Post trek mail - Treasure Hunt II - Emperors II - The Winning Story

Friday, May 11, 2012


Treasure hunt has been an acme of CTC for the past two years. With TH-I: 2011 being the first attempt to entice the participants, the league of intelligent planners has made TH-II BIGGER AND BETTER. For those who don’t know what Treasure hunt is: Exploring the firmaments of Nagalapuram, finding the clues and right waypoints and finally finding the priceless treasure in a particular latitude and longitude. After my worst nightmare in Treasure Hunt-I (that everyone knows about), this time I decided not to participate as TH-II requires far more skill and the tenacity to fight till the end.  Then a call came from Prem –A really crazy trekker (So called Emperor) to take part in his team. He trusted on my speed and navigation very much. He is very good friend of mine as well. The same day I got my GPS from Garmin which gave me a drive in my heart saying “Treasure is on the trail”.
It has been like a month since I trekked as I was volunteering at Agumbe. And I was pondering about how Prem completed two marathons; Prem leading Treasure Hunt would be of marathon speed for sure. Then I realized Senthil and I should be leading and navigating in front which was supposed to be the game plan. The buzz was all around – really all over Facebook, group mails, CTC site. The first phase was testing the navigators by identifying the side streams, ridges and valleys for acquaintance to GPS and maps. At that point, I was having thoughts about the famous Marauder’s Map that is a magical document that reveals every inch of the grounds as well as secret passages to the treasure. Soon the reply mail came from Peter saying the identification part is perfect. You can proceed to the next phase. This showed how the Treasure hunt-II was meticulously planned by the founder and Nobal. Thereafter , I received the nagala KMZ file –Topo map which I loaded onto my gps .Out of excitement , I bunked my afternoon session in office and started early to Nagalapuram where I met the Pirates , Emperors-1 with their precious Quechua tent for the participant rest zone and my team members.
The night before Treasure Hunt
Prem gave me the laptop which I had asked for checking and loading some more trails onto my GPS, as it was my very first time with my own GPS. It was night around 10pm , I did not have my lunch , dinner and the only gleam of light was coming from my laptop monitor screen. Then , I heard a huge laughing sound and constant talking from the other end which was the Pirates with their  usual unruffled attitude started their storied about past CTC treks (which is one hardcore habit of most of the CTCians). It was almost 12 am , everyone where sleeping with some snoring sounds , constant chitchatting of pirates and my monitor light. I loaded the trails and the battery got down and I also went to sleep which I did not get till the morning .It is when Brijesh came out from a Scorpio and within few minutes Peter coming from Fortuner.  Soon after all teams came and started exchanging thoughts, trails, stories and waterbottles for morning …

The Day-05/05/12

We started distributing food items. As usual my bag was heavier than me, within few seconds prem checked my bag’s heaviness and dumped the bag in his car. I took few chocolates and filled in my two pockets .Soon, Peter Van Geit started his briefing to all the teams with the rules being identifying all the three clues that 
will lead to the final treasure point.

He checked all the GPS units for proper conditioning and display and distributed the Geo referenced topo maps for mapping latitude and longitude in the map as well. I loved each and every bit of this because TH-I I did not know how to use a Gps or read a map or interpret a contour line as it was my second trek 1 year back. The 1 year old memory was also pumping me to win this hunt badly. All teams were set and started picking the initial clue from the lot that Nobal distributed.
The teams were Pirates led by Alex, Brijesh leading Cavaliers, Nachiketa and Arun Sekhar leading Maverick Meer Kats, Arun Prabhahar leading Emperors I and Prem leading Emperors II (v2.0). All teams were equally placed with extreme, hardcore and crazy trekkers everywhere. Everyone was pretty excited to get the first clue from the trailblazer Peter.

The Blazing “Sehwag” –Start 
N13 29’ 48”: E79 49’ 32.3”

The first hint was N13 29’ 48” E79 49’ 32.3” IN A PIT ALONG THE RIVER I LIE BELOW THE BED OF LEAVES AND TWIGS , we deciphered the hint and marked the Lat: Lon onto our Mapping devices. Senthil and I identified it to be a side dry stream on our way to first pool. Prem told both of us to run and lead in front, we started slowly coming at last, making futile attempts to mark the point at GPS. Then the lead just said press “Enter and Go”, the two words that recorded onto our minds not only for using GPS but for leading the team in front. We started running and we crossed emperors I, Meerkats and our team members as well.
We saw the mundane TP Kota Dam and started walking along the side trail until we encountered the stream. We found the dry stream onto the left, not even a single drop of water was seen there. The terrain was flat and full of thorns .The sun had started playing its role by providing the most deadly and scorching heat to Nagalapuram.

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The fact that I was wearing a shirt was making me itchy, sweaty. Instantly I removed my shirt and was moving along with Senthil to the specified point .There Our clue finder Senthil instantly jumped and started moving away all the dry leaves , Prem slowly looking onto the rocks , Karan and Shon searching near the thorns , Balaji and Vikki  probing near the trees ,Rajasekar and myself examining along with Senthil. We instantaneously spotted out our second clue and all set for a group photo for the evidence.
N 13 31’ 37”: E 79 48’ 45”

The clue said N 13 31’ 37” E 79 48’ 45” MY GRIP IS FIRM MY FINGERS ARE MANY LOOK ABOVE. Soon we took our gps units and marked the point onto our devices. We found out it was a dry stream before the picnic pool. We thought instead of taking this dead dry stream and steep climbs, better we go to the stream and run as usual which was our humdrum habit for CTCians. And it really was my habit for the past one year moving in nagala eastern stream for warm-ups. Soon we went to the stream and we went to first pool within 10 min where we spotted Peter and Nobal. He was asking about the plot, how was the clue finding route and overall teamwork. We simply smiled at the game maker whose crazy master plan making us victim of this addictive sport. It’s so addictive. Everyone was having bread and jam and had a refreshing dip. For me, Food was never going through my mind, it was the next clue, and how was it planted, where it could be – all possible notions were running. So I instantly started from first pool towards dead end pool. Behind me was Senthil-the fastest man and Rajasekar.
I started moving towards dead end pool very swiftly. Backing me up was Senthil and others. Prem was sweeping along with Balaji. Balaji and Karan was amazing, even the Bangalore 6 hr travel did not have a slight impact on their speed. They were constantly moving. I could hear Prem’s voice “It’s just 26 odd km trek, we should finish it in 4-5 hours Vishal”. My mind voice “RIGHTUUU DAAAAAA NADUTHINGAAAA”. I was practicing swimming at dead end pool for few min Soon Peter and Nobal came and Maverick Meerkats also was in the party which was led by my close friend Arun Sekhar. He started his ferrying process and we were talking amongst ourselves. Soon we started ferrying our bags, Peter’s bags and crossed the dead end pool. It was only this spot we made a slight delay. After the crossing, soon we started our record breaking run towards picnic pool, everyone focused and totally motivated. Senthil soon spotted a rat snake which was taller than him; suddenly it jumped into water and went away. I was sharing some knowledge about identifying the snakes and we spoke till we spotted the dry stream but we did not have the clue sheet with us. So we waited for Prem and everyone started climbing upstream (of course its dry stream-no water at start) 800m to the clue. We knew the clue was hidden inside a tree branch as the clue clearly indicates Grip is Firm and fingers are many. We saw small, muddy pools on the way, thorns and thorns everywhere and my body was imprinted with all possible logos and designs made by these. We spotted the tree, and it was Senthil who instantly climbed the tree and got the clue and behind him was me just climbing for photo: P ;-).

N13 30’ 26” E 71 47’ 26.6”

The clue said N13 30’ 26” E 71 47’ 26.6” COME AND JOIN ME WITH 8M SHOWER. Prem and others arrived and decided the game plan and started discussing the trail route. Shon and Senthil quickly moved in front. Soon everyone targeting picnic pool started moving expeditiously. While getting down, I got slipped into the muddy pool I was mentioning and got the dreadful cramps which I have never experienced. I told everyone to go in front and stayed there for a while. Soon Prem came from behind with Balaji and gave me a lemon and told how to eat a lemon while cramps occur. With one gulp I put the lemon and crushed it, and it tasted as if my enamel is going to wear off due to the citric content. Prem came near me and said “Machi, You only can cope up with greater speed, so take 2 min and start quickly”. I let Prem and balaji go and was alone thinking what if I fall back. I stood up and my nerve in right leg was pounding with blood flow. Slowly walking, I reached down and heard Senthil and others have flown like an eagle. I soon gained my speed and started running and somehow caught up with Senthil, then came the mighty gorge and I was back with greater speed and confidence after that lemon eating session. Soon we started climbing and the gorge was deadly hot. We did not even wait for a single minute; we directly went to picnic pool at a single stretch without breaks. No chocolates, No lemons, NO STOPS. Karan with his GPS instead of climbing the trail and getting down to the picnic pool , went slightly away and we were shouting for him and expectantly he came back and joined the team.
Balaji and Vikki were coming behind along with Prem; they were doing great listening to Prem’s instructions. We had a Nannari Juice at Picnic Pool and Soon Prem suggested me and Senthil to start. We knew the third clue will be tougher as the sun is deadly hot and lots of climbs are ahead us. Surprisingly we saw Peter and Nobal in Picnic Pool .And he was dazed to see us finding the clues and reaching the picnic pool in almost 2.5 hrs. Just imagine this entire write up till now just happened in 2.5 hrs of trek. Still remember Peter saying "Go and wait in treasure point we will come and next time we have to increase the toughness, See this guys are going to finish in the afternoon itself.” Prem was anxiously telling us the target is just 3hrs away and within 2pm we should reach the treasure. I was flabbergasted by his Olympic attitude and speed. So this is how the game plan was shaping, so we chucked our bags and all stuffs in picnic pool and decided to finish the hunt a.s.a.p. Senthil and I was in the side stream to picnic pool when all this happened. Soon all other members joined us. For Shon and me, it was our Second treasure hunt, and we were sharing memories how the previous treasure hunt irrespective valiant attempts flopped. Each and every thing matters: Speed, Teamwork, Comradeship and Navigation. It’s more of a mind over body game.
My cramps started again and I was slowing down the team, luckily we had Senthil who is always fast and barefoot trekker who was leading. Suddenly I slipped out of no reason and whole body was cramp prone. Everyone waited for me, electrol from Prem, lemon from balaji, Are you Ok? From ma close friend Karan, Vishaaaaaaaal a protracted shout from Senthil. This is what I needed at that moment. A single slip made me realize, I am not alone, and I am on a mission to the treasure point. Senthil and Shon were way ahead and they had reached the third clue spot just waiting for us to come. We were proceeding at a constant speed (but not as fast as earlier) and suddenly spotted and Eagle from nowhere with her majestic eyes and sunlight rushing into his head.

 It was like some Harrison Ford movie, dense forests, huge trees cut down, and lots of snakes. Till now we have spotted 4 snakes most of them being rat snakes. Karan with his GPS stopped at a diversion and told we need to climb the right side dry stream to reach the ridge. We were shouting for Senthil and Shon and the only response we had were our echoes. We waited there for 10 min and we thought they would have reached the ridge, so we started climbing; the time was 12 noon, sun was right above our heads. Everyone was totally tired and dehydrated. Prem was leading in front and I walking next to him was highly determined to take the third clue. I still remember Prem telling me “I don’t have the energy to shout to call the participants, we must win”. 
We must win attitude was there till the end for everyone. I shouted as Karan came along then others joined and we were blindly following the GPS. What we saw was open ridge with thorns, dry leaves,  trees with no foliage and was surprised to see the clue saying 8m shower. Soon Prem and me started deciphering it whether it could be a 8 m tree that gives shade as the LAT:LON was pointing exactly to the tree which was around 7 m. Prem climbed and checked it , but no sign of hope. Everyone was in the state of despair as we deciphered 2 clues in no time and came this much fast to end up in a no-man’s land. I immediately started moving around searching each and every rock, moving leaves and out of frustration threw away my food items that were in my pocket. Vikki went to other side of ridge and was telling about a huge vertical drop there. Two guys were down, totally inundated in sweat due to the scorching heat . It was the first official time-out for us. I got the phone from Rajasekar and started climbing for getting signal .  Karan was going crazy shaking all trees he could see that were 8m in height .
Just imagine the state of the 6 guys going crazy, thinking in all possibilities to get the third clue. Adding to the misery, Senthil and Shon was away from the group. I went to open huge rock and lied down under the Sun. Prem was telling to me “Last year also it happened to you, this year also: I am sorry macha”. I got the phone from him and called Peter, Nobal , Sankar, Kathir ,Arun and my brother . All phones were switched off except for my brother. I was confirming all the phone numbers from my brother, and then soon Prem got the mobile and called his brother. He was asking for Nobal’s number. Even the support team was down. After 5 min, Balaji mohan came and asked me, What if this GPS reading is erroneous? What if Senthil is in right place with the right gps reading?  Which gave me a quick insight of deviation that could happen in GPS readings? Instantly we teamed up and I told them 3 possible options :
1.       The vertical drop Vikki was telling about. What if the 8 m fall is there?
2.       Search for Senthil and Shon by going back
3.       For sure Senthil and Shon got the third clue and sleeping somewhere.
4.       The first clue is under leaves , second clue was tree and third clue will surely be near water
Suddenly something struck my mind, I instantly started shouting the team to go to the stream, climb down 800m FAST FAST  FAST . Karan and Prem went down so quickly. Rajasekar and myself were coming behind and others coming behind me. We got down the stream and asked everyone to refresh. 2 hours went like this. Prem and myself went back looking for Senthil and Shon , we returned back after going to a certain extent and while coming we saw 2 more snakes . Prem told the team to rest for 5 min. I took an immediate power nap with my body fully experiencing cramps.After 5 min , we decided ,even if we don’t get the third clue ,atleast we will go to the south east origin where we could possibly meet someone. Within 2 min, I saw Senthil’s bag and behind him was Senthil and shon sleeping in a huge rock near the stream. I was constantly having faith one of three possible options will work and NO.3 worked But wait I was asking them where is the clue don’t play machi . They said we waited for 2 hrs here and searched constantly. Prem and Karan was asking where? The 8m falls they showed towards the right side. Now #1, which Vikki was telling was also right. Everything was SYNCHRONISING. Internally my heartbeat was thumping. Everyone immediately went upstream and saw several tiered waterfall flowing and it made the day .Each and every tier was like 8m to us. We went to the top where there was a nice 8m falls below which there was nothing except a pit viper on the green leaves.

Soon Senthil and Karan started climbing sideways. Prem and Rajasekar climbed along the stream. I was very tired and was searching the muddy pools, the leaves around. But we did not find the clue. Everyone came down, sat on a tree and was in a total state of despair. We were still thinking why the lat and long was pointing on the ridge to that tree, why the 8m falls that we searched did not have the clue?
Everyone was totally lost and Prem said Team we played well, we will go to the Origin, meet someone and communicate this news. Prem came to me and said sorry machi we did not make it this time .Lets do our best, we will reach and meet Peter and other teams, still 1.5km to the origin. Senthil then replied it’s just 400m to the origin. Then I instantly asked, why not we search from the top (ridge) again, I am pretty sure it is near this place in water. We were chanting COME AND JOIN ME WITH 8M FALL and realized it is asking us to join. But everyone was tired as well and decided to leave further. Then I thought Cavaliers or Pirates would have finished the treasure hunt for sure, Atleast we should find the clue. We left the place being totally dejected. We went to the south east origin where water was flowing in drops. Everyone collected their water in the bottles and started following the trail to central origin. Suddenly we heard a “HOY” from the opposite end and that was Peter. I immediately ran to the opposite end, along with Prem and Senthil coming with camera and GPS with them. Within 3-4 min we climbed the hill.I was surprised to see Peter and Nobal coming along with an injured guy from Arun’s team.
Peter was surprised to see us and asked us what happened?  We explained him everything and Peter was checking out our photos and was surprised of our speed and rapid trek to treasure. And they saw the message now that was sent from the peak by Prem and me.  Nobal checked out the photo and said the place is right; the clue is there in that stream only go and take it. The actual clue was 180 m away from the mentioned location though (in reality).But we showed the latitude and longitude did not point this whereas it was pointing a tree on ridge. They told its GPS Error and told us to go again and get back possible.  When we met peter,no one knows whether other teams had won or not. Peter asked do u want to take rest instead of fighting again? We answered immediately we will fight till the end to win.Still the GAME IS ON as no one had reached the treasure yet. OMG when this uttered from his word, instantly everyone started tracing back to the place.

I was flying and brimming with energy as we are still on track. The game is still on as no one had reached the treasure. Prem was telling to the team, whatever happens we should win this, Even it takes midnight we are returning back to the treasure point with the third clue. Soon everyone pushed our limits and did the same (what I told in previous paragraphs) but took the clue and came back at 11:30 pm.

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N13 29’ 35” E 79 47’ 40”

 And there was the treasure in the Central stream origin filled with 10 redbulls and packs of chocolates. By the time we reached Peter and Nobal slept near the huts . We went to them submitted all the clues and photos and we tried to sleep. But as usual I did not get sleep , because of me Senthil and Balaji did not sleep. Peter woke up, Prem,karan and vikki also got up. After 5 min they slept again. But I was so happy that I did not even get a single wink in my eyes for few hours. Now I took the Pickle, Bread, Jam and whatever was there in the bag and started eating. Rajasekar helped me a lot in providing all kinds of foods.Till 3 am, Senthil, I and Balaji did not sleep. Others were pretending to sleep, but they were looking at the stars with heavy winds making the enviro so cold.
 Morning we woke up, Peter and Nobal gave us the treasure, RED BULL. More than getting the red bull , I loved the total feeling of winning the hunt. It was amazing. I immediately questioned Nobal , how many guys planted the clues and treasure and he said 3 of us did it . I was staggered as all these were done in 2 days.(MANISHANAYAA NEENGA LA).
I can never forget the winning moments, each one taking red bull and bashing it like Stone Cold. Shon and Vikki taking dip in the origin with Red bull in their hands.It was one heck of moment for e veryone who sweated out each bit of calorie left in their body to this point. Truly, a valiant effort from everyone. Myself and Rajasekar posing for photos, Prem and Karan still pondering over the amazing clues that Peter and Nobal had planted , Senthil playing around with my GPS , Vikki and Balaji jumping with joy . After all , this is one moment in lifetime to cherish .Emperors II were the best in planning and execution till the end. Hats off to the brave hearts. And special thanks to Peter and Nobal,without them this would have not been possible.

Soon we started posing with the clues and treasure before leaving to Picnic pool. Peter told us about a path that takes just 1 hr to picnicpool . We marked that in our gps and happily started towards picnic pool. After 20 min we saw Arun sekhar and others in the opposite direction and Arun congratulated us and we passed on. Soon the misty mountains became deadly hot . Senthil was leading in front with the GPS,myself in the middle and Prem was sweeping.

 We were constantly walking over the ridges , where we could see full Nagala in all directions from the top. After 1.5 hours of strenuous trek we reached Picnic pool .There was Sankar ji lonely practicing Backflip and soon we started cooking maggi , lemon juice , pickle mix . I told for 2 hours I won’t move this place. I instantly jumped into water (of course with mat) and slept in the mat for some while. Soon Shon, Senthil, Sankar and Prem were doing their backflips.

I was really happy at least all the efforts did not go in vain this time (this year).  From 9:30 am to 1:30 pm it was full relaxation, sleep, food and all talks. After 2 pm we started moving swiftly towards base camp. Within 2 hours reached the first pool, where Brijesh ,Durai ji were swimming and Pirates were enjoying. I also had refreshing dip and talk with Briju. Sankar and Shon joined us. After 15 min refreshing talks with Briju, I went along with Prem till the base camp where peter was standing near his fortuner .I thanked Prem and others for making it a success. IT WAS A TOTAL TEAM EFFORT And Great leadership shown by Prem.I can never forget about the total team effort that has gone into this :Prem leading ,sweeping , motivating everyone at all times . Senthil ,the ultimate speedy guy,cluefinder ,ma best pal,cool navigator. Karan, the calm guy , constant hiker , best attitude ,ready for anything. Shon,ultra fast,weight lifter,smiling attitude. Balaji, cool stamina,very good memory,logical thinker and always supportive.Rajasekar, the DFS guy,food provider, helping around and telling stories,supportive.Vikki,Sweeper,exploring mindset,helpful and calm. There ends the ROAD TO MAGICAL TREASURE IN NAGALAPURAM……..EMPERORS TEAM II had sealed a clear victory at the end.




Susan Deborah on: March 15, 2013 at 7:22 PM said...

Gosh, adrenaline racing hunt. I'm sure you would've enjoyed every minute of this trail. Not for the weak-hearted, I reckon.

Great man.

Joy always,


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