A Well documented Write-up by 50 yrs young soul Suresh Rajagopalan
Nagala trip on 28-29th April 2012:-
Oh...what and awesome trip the whole experience - read on for more..!!!
Well that is what it was a cocktail mix and call it the best mix possible...:-)
It was really great how we teamed up together and here is the great 2 day story of the kids and family trek to Nagala.
26th April :- I filled and sent out my form, called up Chellababu ( Lead and one of the great organizer's I know in CTC ( Chennai Trekking club) ) on 26th April to confirm my participation in this trek and he promised to accommodate me and my 10 year old Rahul into this trek. Then things happened very quickly with the prep email on 28th April 2.46 AM (Oh...What a time and goes to show the real effort Chellababu and other leads had put in to make the plans for this great trek) detailing the items to take and touch points on leads and sweeps.
28th April Morning 9.30 AM :- I gave a wakeup call to Vinod ( My car- mate and senior on this trek and got an answer from a sleepy voice that he will be there in Nathans cafe Koyambedu and will coordinate and bring our other team member Gauthaman who will also be part of a member in my car. Me / Vinod and Gauthaman Qui
28th April 3.45 PM: - Until I reached Nathan's cafe I was not really excited at all as I have not experienced the energy and fun in CTC until then. The moment I met Vinod near the pickup point with his bag pack I knew where I was heading into. We all assembled near Nathan's Cafe at the appointed time.
The convoy of 8 cars ( each with 4-5 members) left from Nathan's cafe heading towards Ambattur Dunlop our first stop where we would be meeting Chellababu and then the next point was Uthukottai and then onwards to Nagala.
With all the meticulous checking and counting by Chellababu (over all lead) and Vinod sitting beside me in my car we called up each other on the mobile and stopped periodically @ intervals. The first tea break stop @ Nagala was great. Vinod showed us the small cafeteria were they normally stop for Idlis and how tasty it is for such a small price of under Rs.300 for a party of 20-30 members. This time we all chose to have only tea and it tasted great.
28th April 7.00 PM: - A convoy of 10 cars drove into the base camp of Nagala foot hills and parked under a probably 100 years old two huge mango trees. We quickly got to work with the instructions and advice from Chellababu on the do's and don’ts. It was completely dark except for the partially hidden moon light and the light from the stars. The kids did and amazing job of getting the twigs gathered while the elders went around with the bigger task of getting a wood log chopped off from a huge tree that had fallen down nearby. I did my small help in offering a left over axa blade from my car and the team went about chopping off the tree for a big piece of log to keep the night fire going. As we went about the task more helping hands came and finally with the help of a knife we completed the job. In the meanwhile a quite fire and work was already progressing on the food preparation from the girls and ladies who had gathered around the fire and in a very quick time our "sweet corn soup"..Wow the taste is still lingering in my mouth and is a challenge to China town or any other top restaurant in Chennai. Think of a panneer butter masala and some rottis to top it up...Wow the dinner was awesome.
28 th April 12.00 Midnight :- After the dinner as we we were all about to settle down a call came from our lead Chellababu that we are all in for a treat from Manik who is going to give us all a small lesson on star gazing. This is my first experience in star gazing.Manik with his laser gun pointing to the stars went about his task so meticulously and made me think that what little I know about the stars that I keep seeing every day and take them all for granted. He explained about the big dipper and how to find the Pole star which we all as beginners in trekking should know for our night directions without compass or gadgets like GPS. He explained with a lot of enthusiasm on the constellation of Gemini and how to read and know the inverted question mark of the constellation of Leo. He offered kids to explore with his laser pointer and kids were all thrilled to use it. We also saw the flashing lights from nearby peaks from another CTC trekking camp that had already climbed up and camping there on the peaks for the night.
As we settled down with the quietly dying fire flames a couple of tarpaulin sheets was laid on the ground for a sleep under the stars. With all the lessons from Manik on star gazing I am not sure whether any one slept @ all as it was like heaven coming down from the skies with such an amazing sight of stars that we all miss in our city life. My son Rahul beside me asking all the questions. Rahul and I slept for only 1 hour that night. We could over hear some senior trekkers mentioning that they were planning for a night trek and returning by morning.
29th April 5.45 AM: - We all woke up to the wakeup call from our leads Vikram/Vinod/Chellababu and others. After we woke up only we knew that we were sleeping in such an amazing valley surrounded by the great and challenging Nagala peaks. There was a huge tree that had fallen down and some of us climbed and took pictures on that. We gathered some water from a nearby stream of water to prepare for morning tea/ chocos for kids and bread for breakfast. Breakfast was through by 6.45 and after getting the non disclaimer forms signed up for swimming risk/ trekking risk etc and getting the supplies of swimming tubes and energy food for the trek from our leads the trek started around 7.00.
We crossed the dam and the great opening and visibility of the peak ahead came to our breathtaking view what an amazing sight to be just there. My son Rahul picked up friends with a Mongrel dog and I was surprised to learn how quickly dogs befriend humans for a couple of biscuits. I picked up a long staff from nearby to help me through the trek.
As we stepped into the path of the river stream the team split into two with Chellababu/ Vinod taking the lead with some seniors and he called that path a little easy path and the path through the river stream was given to kids and those who wanted some more challenge under the lead of Vikram and Shankar taking the team of kids and others. The path became more and more challenging as we kept climbing up. We heard some birds chirping and I told Rahul that birds and water are close by and we will be seeing water stream shortly. As I mentioned in less than five minutes we sighted the first stream of water flowing. Wow and amazing sight and we had trekked for almost 45 min to 1 hour now up hill. We progressed further for the next 45 minutes for the first pool our very first landmark in this trek. As we sighted the first pool the excitement and cheer got louder from the kids. We spent the next 30-45 minutes in the crystal clear water and then gathered some water from the stream. Wow if someone gives me an option to drink from the best bottled mineral drinking water and the one I saw from the Nagala stream I would choose the Nagala stream water. What a fresh and pure water and made me think how much we have abused nature and neglected our water ways that are so polluted in other places. With a wish and prayed to god to keep this stream pure for the next generations we all proceeded to the next more difficult pool/falls.
The climb became more difficult and the terrain became greener and lush with thick growth coming in our way. We saw trees that were 100's of years old. Spotted the first plant of fern and I told my son Rahul that Fern can grow only in unpolluted places like this. The 70 degrees pass or climb was our next challenge. With senior trekkers and leads like Vikram/Vinodh and Sankar helping us to pass the bags and other things kids were all offered a helping hand. To our surprise none of the kids and the oldest lady in our trek wanted to get help from the seniors. The all moved effortlessly in the 70 degrees pass and gained one more foot of self confidence as they passed over to approximately 600 meters high. We were all greeted by Manik (our star gazer guide) @ 70 degrees pass.
29th April 11.30 AM :- Our goals of reaching the 800 meters high planned for this trek was still not in vicinity with the team getting visibly tired but their inner strength was all strong to climb to this peak. More shouts came from the lead and push came from the sweep. After more passes and climbs and steeps we reached the promised 2nd pool with waterfalls. Wow what an amazing sight. It was all worth the entire 3 hours of trek and we were all here to gods own place. We all made it together but the real victory came for Ms. Vettrichelv (64 Year old) and the amazing strength of the 6 year old Diya (this is my guess of the kid’s age but I am pretty sure she must be much younger). What a great team it was to be with.
All of us wasted no time in quickly getting into the pool of water and there was a rush to reach the water falls. The water was pristine clear and we filled our thirst with the sweet water from the falls. It was fun and party time for the next 2 hours.
Swimming in the water playing games/floating and flashing water on each other. Wow...the leads and the sweeps did not leave any one on the pool to escape from the water games. After about 2 hours in the water we heard a sweet voice calling over that the lunch was ready. Wow...chapattis/ vegan briyani / cauliflower pakkodas with Raita. Tasted better than the most delicious food we can have in Chennai Hotels. Thanks to the ladies team who made this happen...:-)
These are the places that send a reminder to all man made creation versus god’s creation and goes to prove how god handed over the earth to us and the mess man has made and still making under the disguised uncontrolled progress.
29th April 3.30 PM: - With our bellies full the team reluctantly wound our way down from the hills. The way down was much easier as we chose the easier path of the trek and not the stream path with pebbles. As we got into the plains around 5.00 PM it started raining and we quickened our pace to get to our base camp where the cars were parked. My sons Rahul’s dog friend was still tailing behind us despite the heavy downpour. Rahul was more concerned about his dog friend getting wet than him get soaked. He in fact stopped under a small tree expecting his dog friend to stop but no luck and he started following him as soon as Rahul and me started off from the small tree cover. As we got near to the dam the rain gathered strength and turned out as a big thunder storm. Completely drenched we took shelter under two tarpaulins as the blinding lightning and deafening thunder became louder we decided not to take a chance any further and quickly leave for Chennai. We got into our cars fully drenched and quickly turned on the heat inside the car. Soon the passengers were fast asleep until the driver took control and drove us all back to Chennai around 9.30 PM.
When I woke up my son and told him we are all in Chennai he was still in his dreams of Nagala hills and the water falls.
I quietly hit the bed with a prayer to get me and all of us back to Nagala many more times in future.
Some thoughts from me to the CTC organizers:-
On our way back we heard from the lead Vinod that there was another team in Nagala during the same time. It would be wise to share the trek information across to all the leads by SMS leads of CTC ( group alert). This information can be helpful and handy during times of emergency.