Post Trek Mail- Emperors Express Trek 1 - Water Special Difficult Trek

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Excellent Write up from Sandhiya
Best days of my Life

 It’s been 10 days since the trek but my knees still hurt when I climb the stairs. My camera needs repair. There are holes in my T.Shirt. The brand new tracks I used on this trek look like they’ve endured a war. My new Power Shoes were Grey-and-Green on Friday night and Deep-Soggy-Brown on Monday Morning. It’s been 10 days – But I can barely conceal a smile on my face when I talk about it. J
“Emperor’s Express Water Trek – Nagalapuram East to South-East”, dated 12th and 13th May 2012, Organized by Marathon-Trekker/Treasure-hunt winner Prem Kumar C.
Sounds “Posh” doesn’t it??
We left the city in a bunch of cars and bikes on Friday night. After eating, driving, eating some more and driving even more, we finally reached the foothills of Nagalapuram-Eastern entry at 1:30AM. Prem gave us 2 options:
1.      Either we climb up to the sliding pool in the darkness and reach before sunrise (that way we avoid the sun – but 2 guys will have to come back in the morning to purchase meat for Lunch) - OR
2.      We sleep on the Dam-bed for the rest of the night, wake up early and climb up with the rising sun beating down our backs (nobody will have to make an extra trip for buying meat).
Option 1 – night trekking and sunrise at the sliding pool won the maximum votes and our democratic leader (Prem) consented. Night trek is nice in the sense that we are twice as careful while walking and don’t tire easily because of the Sun. But I also found it slightly boring because I couldn’t see the colors or scenery of the landscape I was passing. Everything around me was just a varying shade of purple or black.
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 We reached sliding pool at 3:30AM. The swimmers jumped right into the water while non-swimmers like me sat around in the shallow waters waiting for sunrise. After an hour, when Santhosh had successfully sunk his glasses in the water, we went back for some sleep.
I must have slept for 30 minutes – not more, when I woke up suddenly as something tried to enter my ear. Santhosh was trying to stuff a leaf in my ear! Sleep was gone for good. A “Kalaichufying” session was already in progress, with Mahesh Manivannan as the lead-comedy-hero. I don’t remember laughing so much ever in my life. Starting from an analysis of how Santhosh’s banana mysteriously jumped out of the peel and landed 10 feet away - to discussions on “conference calls” that several people were attending behind bushes – the jokes left us literally holding our sides and rolling. J
Soon, it was time for Prem to go back to the foothills to buy Mutton. Some other Emperor organizers joined us soon with the vessels for cooking, but Prem, Mahesh and Vasanth were away buying meat. The rest of us went back to the pool for a nice long leisurely swim. J
After swimming, we started cutting vegetables for the cooking process, but most of the team fell asleep in the shade. As meat had still not arrived, we boiled eggs, started preparing Vegetable Biriyani and even started making the fruit salad. Arun, Masi and Senthil were the chief chefs and some of us were in the cutting dept. Most others were busily sleeping.
Finally, after a loooooong wait, Prem arrived with the meat. The 3 people who went out in the sun were super tired and jumped straight into the Magic pool – we cooked the Mutton Gravy in the meantime.
At long last, lunch was ready J.
Vegetable Biriyani, Mutton Gravy, Onion Raitha, boiled eggs, fuit salad and potato chips J We were all famished and ate everything in no time.
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 After lunch, Prem let us slide down the sliding-pool. Non-swimmers like me used the tubes with swimmers ready for a rescue mission in case something bad happened. J But we were already delayed and hard-pressed for time. This was supposed to be an “express” trek – but all we had done was sit, sleep, swim and eat a LOT of food. So we started out determined to reach Picnic pool before 6PM.
The route to picnic pool was most interesting. Prem took us to a Gorge which had a magnificent water fall at the end. While wading through the water, we maintained absolute silence because there were a couple of bee-hives on the rocks above us and previous trekkers had gotten attacked by them.
The Dead-End pool was equally fascinating. The sleeping mats were tied together and our backpacks were ferried across by the swimmers first – then we followed with their assistance in tubes – once again in complete silence for fear of a bee-swarm.
Finally, we reached Picnic Pool at about 5:30PM. Naturally, we jumped into the water again. That’s the whole purpose of a “Water Trek”. You never stand long enough to get properly dry – by the end of the trek, your skin will just peel off with all the dampness J
After a swim, some enthusiastic/hungry folks made noodle soup. We changed into dry clothes, drank the soup and talked about cooking rice. It just stopped with talk. The group was so exhausted that we didn’t even care about food – in no time, people found flat surfaces, spread the mats and started snoring.
The next morning, Prem called asking for people interested in exploring the peak. My request was politely turned down because I’d gotten awful cramps the previous day. So the fit-as-fiddle boys set out for the peak when 6 of us sat at the camp making breakfast.
Menu: boiled eggs, plain rice and rava upma. It got to cook with minimum assistance for the first time as the others jumped in for a swim. It was an interesting experience if you ignore all the coughing when I thoughtlessly blew into the flames and got a mouth full of ash… J
When the boys came back from the peak, we started out again. Occasionally we would stop for water or to just catch our breath. Along the way, we saw several tiny water-falls and jumped in. J After about 3 hours of this, we came to a point where Prem proudly pointed somewhere up a slope and said “There is an 8m water fall up there, no regular CTC trek has ever taken the group to this place; I’m gonna take you.” So we climbed up for yet another waterfall J But when we reached the lower-segment of the fall, Prem humored us for a few snaps and said the girls should probably refrain from coming up all the way. Apparently, the terrain wasn’t fresher-friendly and he didn’t want us breaking our bones. I can only hope to heavens that someday, I will be fit enough to go anywhere I please on all the treks. I was so jealous watching the guys go up the water fall when Madhu and I were sitting at the lower segment. One of the guys who went up sent a massive rock rolling right down the fall – it landed like a bombshell at a spot where we had clicked a picture just 2 minutes before. Not wanting to risk our lives with these boys up there, we came down to our regular trail again.
After the 8m water fall, we made for the ridge – a plain, flat almost grassland like surface right on top of the mountain. It was surprising to see such an even terrain after enduring all the rocks on the stream bed. We picked up speed and reached the source of Nagala South-east. It was time for a quick lunch of “Aval with sugar and Onion rice mix”. Post lunch, we started descent again. Soon the grasslands gave way to a deadly stream trail.
When we reached the water, I forgot to put my camera back in my bag. As I tried to step around a huge rock, my camera fell right into the water L
Darkness was upon us and Prem kept warning – saying we have to cross the stream before we lose total visibility. But given the varying speeds and exhaustion, we managed to mess it up. Pretty soon, we had to pull out the torch lights – our steps were careful and measured – speed dropped down to 1/3rd of the original daytime rate. I remember crossing a particular rock face that was sloping-steep and slippery on one side and had a 20ft drop into water on the other. Not wanting to slow the group down, I just shut up and kept all my fears to myself, crossing carefully trying very hard NOT to imagine falling down. No wonder they say trekking is all in the mind.
Then the worst happened. As I tried to jump from one boulder to another with a wide gap and water in between, I held a torch in one hand and used the tree-branch over head for support. What I held was NOT a tree branch but a SNAKE – except I didn’t know it was a snake!!
I thought it was a bat that fell on my head, hit my face and slid down my left arm. I screamed, slipped and shouted like crazy till Santhosh came running after me asking “What happened??”
I said “BAT”!! He shone his torch in the water and we saw a snake sliding through it.
I completely lost my head. I am not proud of this part. Before I could control myself, my eyes started watering. I was delirious, weeping my guts out with Santhosh asking “did it bite you?? DID IT BITE YOU??” I answered honestly saying “I don’t know”. He replied saying “We’ll find out in half an hour if it did” J That didn’t help. Madhu was doing everything she could to console me. When Santhosh suggested we take a break, I panicked there might be more snakes and opted to leave. My feet were shaking like jelly. All confidence gone, I did my best to keep up with the other two.

After a while, we came to a point that seemed to end in water. Some others were already there wondering what to do – they didn’t know the way. Then Prem entered the scene and pointed left at an impossible looking face of rocks. I thought he was kidding. Then he made me climb it. Darkness, torch light not giving me the grip of one hand and the jitters from the snake were making life miserable. Once again, we came to a point where the route was not clear. The rocks were smooth, steep and didn’t seem climber friendly at all. But, we had to cross them to reach Kone Falls.
At last – we arrived at Kone Falls. The experienced trekkers (like Selva) had already set up a Rope for us to climb down. We passed backpacks separately. The last lap was to cross the water which was about waist deep – holding the backpack above our head. Santhosh did the first trial walk to test the depth. 3 snakes in water looked at him and slid off in opposite directions. But Santhosh wanted us to know that he is BRAVE.  He maintained his composure (Gethu) and walked steady (I don’t know if his legs were shivering under water) – I wonder how many Gods he was praying to…. J
Following Santhosh’s example, the rest of us also walked across the pool. Then 4 people formed a human chain in the pool and passed backpacks to the other side. On the other side was flat land – another 4 kms of walking will take us to the parked car J
Finally, at around 1:00AM, we all managed to reach the parking spot. Only Prem’s car was there (after he had bought meat). Other cars were parked at the Eastern entry. So the drivers set out in Prem’s car to bring their own vehicles while we sat for a self-introduction session. Santhosh was snoring loudly on a sleeping mat. J
Stopping for tea in a 24x7 tea shop, we reached the city at 5. I was home by 5:30.
With every trek, I learn something new. In this trek, I learnt Team-Work.
Day-1, I sat on the tarp loafing around and eating. But the lunch preparation took a minimum of 10 people’s work. Day 2 we covered about 28 kms and got our butts kicked. But our return in the darkness would have been impossible if not for Mahesh Manivannan, Selva, Vasanth, Vimal, Santhosh, Kaushik, Oinam, Khaliraj, Madhu, Prem, Sandeep and so many more. This trek was a test of everyone’s attitude.
Everyone performed admirably, took up initiative and contributed their bit. There is only so-much that an organizer can do. Without the cooperation of all the members, we would not have exited the forest that night.
Our strength, stamina and speeds may vary. But I believe that with the right mindset, no terrain is too tough to conquer. I thank this trek for teaching me that. The snake did freak me out – but now I have a story to tell that makes jaws drop during lunch J
Excellent Write up from Madhumita
17 / 31 - Its not  my Marks  :-P
I was happy to see my name listed among 31 participants for  this trek. My exticitment was limitless. I didn’t want to be a lagger.It was clearly written in the mail that they are going to cover 3 days’ distance in 2 days, so I did my primary prepartions a week before.
The fun part of the trek began days before we started the trek. Soon after  Prem sent the thread mail, for the preparation, discussions began about food.  Deciding the food menu for the ‘emperors trek’ isn’t that easy !!!  Emperors’ Rajkiran (ARUN PRABAHAR) was in charge of buying mutton.  Almost the whole team was involved in deciding the menu and who is bringing what. Finally on Tuesday, a mail came from Prem with a list of only 17 participants who were ready to trek.  17/31 Its not my marks.
Active  lycans set to the field
As per our plans, we started travelling towards Nagala East on Friday night in 3 cars and a bike. Prem ensured that he gets goat “kaushik“ boarded his car. As most of us know each other well, it didn’t take much time to intereact among us. On the way we had our dinner at various dhabas. Although it got delayed to reach the thriuvallur high road due to  usually expected traffic , we reached the eastern foothill around 2’o clock in the morning. As per the “viewer’s choice”, we decided to trek at night. We planned to trek till the sliding pool so that we could get water for our chef Arun and his team.
Hidden talents rapidly exploded – CTC’s answer to Arya and Santham
The terrain being well known, trekking at night was a bit comfortable for us. We reached the silding pool around 4’o clock in the morning. After taking a dip in the magic pool to rejunuvate our tired muscles , we decided to opt for a power nap. Then came the most funniest and unforgettable part of the trek. Magesh and Vimal paired up so well and came up with many spontenous timely jokes. It was like being part of a Crazy Mohan play, no gap in between two  jokes, which was partly seasoned by Santhosh and  Kaushik.  Santhosh’s  “banana “ joke was the ultimate. Pavam Santhosh !!!! Two hours of non-stop comedy set every one to roll on the floor.
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 IT’s lunch time
Later on by 7’o clock,  Prem , Magesh and Vasanth agreed to climb down the hill to purchase mutton while  the rest of the team got back into water and had a splendid  time splashing around in the water. Having had our early dinner, we were damn hungry and were  waiting for Arun. Soon the cooking team arrived and started its work. Vimal with his “ great” skills chopped briyani ingredients while I, Sandy and Romesh prepared the fruit salad. A tasty, delicious lunch was served – menu: Veg Briyani, Mutton Gravy, fruit salad and boiled egg.

End of day 1
Having filled our stomach , we had fun at the sliding pool and then started trekking towards the picnic pool. On the way, we had to cheat the deadly kissing bees  near the dead end pool. With help of sign language and  great team effort we ferryed fast  and crossed the pool.  My sandal got wet, I didn’t have any shoes to replace, I  was skidding down very often. Dinesh offered me help and carried my bag from the half way through  dead end pool. On the way to pinic pool, we explored the gorge.  I was terrified  to see the waterfall at the end of the gorge fully filled with cobwebs and froth.The whole gang reached the pinic pool around 6’o clock. We made tomato soup as a starter with potato chips which eventually  became our dinner. We went to sleep very early. The whole pinic pool area came to slience by 8’o clock.

Getting prepared for ninja jumping
Early morning at 6:30 on Sunday the gang (except I, Sandhiya, Magesh, Santhosh, Kali ,Romesh and Raushik) set to cover  Nagala Eastern View Point- 50 Meter Falls Above Bathtub Pool - 50 Meter Falls and Pool. Fearing that I might have problem like the previous night I didn’t want to take the risk of climbing up. Meanwhile, otheres who stayed back made boiled egg, white rice with rice mix and upma for breakfast.
Later  around 9’o clock, people who went for 50 m falls came back. Prem was the firstt one whom we saw, rushing down and jumping into the pool. He instructed the people who stayed back to  start  ahead  towards  the treasure hunt pool 1. I found that I didn’t wear the sock the previous day for the grip. A new lesson learnt  - use your sandals with socks for better grip!!! A gang headed by Magesh and me went forward . After 2 hrs of trekking on a path strewn with irregular large boulders which formed like a waterfall was a visual treat.Then at the start of dry stream towards the right we climbed up to step falls, “awesome” steep climbing with lots of sharp throns that pierces into the skin. About 500m of steep climbing came the 1st set of mini step falls. It was worth climbing . Despite the slippery rocks on the way to the falls , it attracted  most of us towards itself to relish its beauty . I remembered  one particular line  in tamil  -“அழகாய் இருக்கிறாய் பயமாய் இருக்கிறது” on seeing it. After  having great time over there, few set to climb a little futher (300m ) to visit next set of step falls. But I and few others climbed down to  get recharged ourself  for the dry stream climbing. As I have been to dry stream already I knew that it would be a difficult task for me to cilmb up. While waiting for others to return, we had a mini-competition between Vimal and Dinesh as to who is good at climibing trees.  Even though Vimal tried his level best , Dinesh was unbeatable.
@vimal:Got damn company is deducing 2000 points for insufficent  performance.
Later around  2o’clock we started  climbing towards the dry stream and this effort took our breath away. (Trouser taaruthan!) . Big boulders  were challenging enough for us to climb. It took around 45 mins  to reach Nagala east origin. clear chill water  rushing out like a brook , which feds all throughout  whole Nagala East region.
“The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”
-          Percy Bysshe Shelley
After steep climbing , very soon the surface became flat and grassy of about  5 km strench  beautifully gardened with plants like cycas which stood like smaller versions of coconut on one side and a scenric view with  vibrant colours of mountains like a painted picture  completely still life on other. Which let us to the Kaliasa Kona origin. We had our lunch near the origin. Prem  prepared yummy aval and spicy onion rice mix .
Ingenious system  kept alive
It was fascinating to see  how the natives  have skillfully channelled the water with bamboo pipes to draw water from the stream.  Earlier I have read in textbooks about this which is commonly used in the north eastern states.  Something new that I saw for the  1st time in my life. And it was further protected by local worships by tribals - A way nature is worshipped and preserved .
Searching for trail
After  prefect light energetic lunch for steep climbing, we resumed back around 4’o clock , through Nagala Golden circle – a place where south eastern  and western entry meets togather.  Prem warned us to move fast and to match his pace. But steep climbing down with irregularly large boulders challenged us and slowed us from fast moving. And soon it became dark and slowed down our pace.
Around 6:45 , whole gang (expect Mahesh and Vimal who knew the way and went out in jet speed) had to halt in search of trail.  They was a deep pool front of us and steep rocks at its edges.we were sure that we need not to ferry across.if any , prem would have insturcted us.  Darkness made it worse . Later vasanth and prem , who were sweeping reached there .We came to know that my very friend vikram is weak and he will take little longer to climb down. Vikram and kali were held back .And they were planning to put up tent for them at that moment. Vasanth and santhosh swam through the pool to find the depth of the pool .  Prem climbed from the  otherside of the pool and found the easy possible way down to the other end.  Excellent effort from selva , who was trying to figure out the way but could it make it.On the way Dinesh who got sprain also decided to stay night and continue next morining.
S for Snakes  ella  its SANDHIYA
Mean while Prem managed to inform majesh through Selva  to return  back to  get Prem’s  key so that he can bring the car inside through jeep trail.
It was about 8, just  4 km left behind to reach the exit , suddenly I heard  a nerve wrecking scream  . I didn’t know how it react. Was completely puzzled and blank on hearing .It was Sandhya’s .She felt like she had touched a bat or something creepy. She was shivering and whimpering in fright. To add oil to fire, santhosh shone  the tourch into the water . we saw a  beautiful snake ( a water snake if my eyes werent blind !!!)  moving itself gently on the surface of water. Sandy got petrified .She had a energy and willingness to complete it but got scared . I would also react the same .  I guess , sandhiya will be writing a post trek write up , atleast this part .  we talked and and moved ahead which kept us thinking about snakes , and finally reached the Kailasa kona falls. On listening to the voices of my fellow trekkers , It felt like boost for me.

You can do it !!!
We saw Prem midway ,returning back to help Vikram and his grove. Climbing down the Kona falls wasn’t easy at night. A rope tied to a tree for support . Santhosh and Selva helped us in guiding where to place our footstep . later we crossed the Kona pool which was a knee length where we crossed.Before the whole gang crossed the pool, we hearded the prem and others ready to climb down the kona falls.Soon around 1’o clock at night the whole team assembled at the car parking area. While the car owners left to eastern entry to pick their vechile, the rest had small intro session . soon we left off to  chennai
“Remember that you have the power within yourself
And a will that can never be broken
You will survive and grow stronger
This much I know for the angels in Heaven have spoken
Never give up on you
Never forget who you are”
                                               - Rebecca Burns

 With Regards



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