Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Post Trek - Mother's Day Trek to Nagala West on May 13, 2012



                                          Write up by Punitha

What does a Mother do on Mother's day ?? Clean, cook, feed & chauffeur kids, finish her pending office work, do projects for her kids, go about routine, and if one is lucky maybe go to a restaurant or catch a cinema?!
Well, in India many of us don't even know of this day or are just going about our routine. Ofcourse everyday is Mother's Day for a Mother ! But this Mother's Day turned out to be special & adventurous for some fun-loving Moms !! We went on a trek to Nagala West, AP on May 13th, 2012 ; with our kids ofcourse !
This is a new initiative by the newly launched CTC Women's forum. Chennai Trekking Club is a volunteer driven adventure club based in Chennai that organizes regular treks on weekends.
The response to this trek was good, and the registration sheet resembled a volatile stock graph – numbers kept going up & down and the chart finally stabilized at the minute we left the city limits of Chennai on the morning of May 13th !! We the organizers Sinu & Punitha were busy with preparations for the last few days, constantly making adjustments with the fluctuating registrations ! 3 vehicles, 23 trekkers and 3 hours of introductions and laughter later later we reached the base of Nagala mountains.
After a breakfast with the spread from continental to Indian (read chocos to idlis !), distribution of common goods to be carried and instructions, the lead trekker Ajay marched forward with kids matching his steps and some moms trailing behind. Arjun , Sankara and Chellababu were the mid-sweep and sweep of the trekking group respectively, and, between them the regular CTCians steered us safely up the rocky path. My kids Abhimanyu & Rahul had already been on the same trail a couple of weeks before and hence thought they were experts themselves and tried to match steps with Ajay !
We were a motley group, from a spunky 6 yrs kid to spirited 16 yr old teenager to a saree-clad 60 + yrs mom ; with all ages and shapes in between !! But this was planned to be an easy trek considering the differing endurance levels of the participants. The weather also seemed to be celebrating Mother's day ; it was comparatively cool on that day and we did not feel much heat once inside the forest.
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The first reward for our relentless march was a stream of water – gurgling down the mountains ! The kids had reached the streams along with the lead trekker and splashed water on all others trying to cross the stream ! Soon most of us were drenched with bottles and cooking vessels being used to do 'abhishegam' (drench) on all trekkers ! Kids rolled around in the stream laughingly ! Everyone felt refreshed after a dip in the stream ! We reluctantly left the stream to trek further into the forest. But we did not lose sight of the stream from that point on, as we were walking along its banks !
We passed by the first pool and there were two small challenges on the way, like the walk on the ledge and pulling oneself up a narrow space between the rocks. There was another steep climb down a slippery dry mud path, where one had to hold tree branches and find roots for leg support to navigate. With the help of volunteers everybody crossed the path without slipping into the stream below !
After 2.5 hrs of trekking we finally reached the second pool which had a small water fall at one corner. It was a picture-perfect setting for our Mother's Day picnic :). We threw the backpacks, inflated our swim tubes and jumped into the water ! What a sweet reward for a few hours trek !!
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A few minutes later, some of us set about cooking ! First tea was boiled and while sipping the tea we planned on how to go about cooking our lunch – veg briyani, aloo gravy & raita ! And a delicious dessert in payasam ! Ambitious menu indeed ! But with everyone giving a hand, it seemed easy ! We laid out all the ingredients we had carried and realized we had missed out on some items ! Not losing heart, we tried to tweak the recipes and started cooking; collecting twigs, setting up stones for fire and collecting water for cooking.
In between we took turns to jump into the pool and enjoy the cool waters ! Moms & kids splashing water, pulling the other into water and generally sharing lots of fun on that day. The falls, pools & streams of Nagala are all fed by rain water collected in nooks & corners of the mountains. They trickle down, collect , gain force & take different shapes to nourish the mountains, vegetation and nature enthusiasts like us who take the effort to come there !

After an hour or so our lunch was ready ! Well, on any other day and in any other place nobody would have accepted what they saw as veg briyani or aloo gravy – neither the colour nor the form was true to the original dishes ! We, the too many cooks who had spoiled the broth, were wondering how to market this lunch to our group and clean up the vessel ! But luckily the group was famished and had a big appetite after the trek and the swim and were ready to eat anything even remotely resembling food ! We exchanged a triumphant smile on the sly ;). We ladled generous portions of the food onto everyone's bowl before they realized the taste ;)
More luck was on our side ! Two more CTC trekking groups were in the vicinity and as they neared our pool, they stopped and joined us for lunch ! A few tried to remedy the situation by making payasam and that was also finished within a few minutes amid laughter and leg-pulling !
It was soon time to pack up and trek to the base. We cleaned the place of plastics and collected it in a trash bag. CTC is very eco-conscious and has no-litter policy which is commendable. CTC also has a no-smoke and no-alcohol policy in treks and camps which raises the reliability of the group. We cleaned even some of the stuff littered by other non-CTCians.
Few of us started first with kids and some volunteers stayed back to complete the clean up. The heat had reduced even more and we reached the stream quickly. This time the other two CTC groups (one of them was the Ladies freshers group and another private group) also joined in playing in the stream. Atlast we moved away and reached base camp.
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The sun was setting beyond the mountains and it was xgetting darker. We clicked a few group photos and chit-chatted for a while. Finally we boarded the vehicles and started back to Chennai! It was a different Mother's Day – adventurous & fun ! Low on luxury, more on effort ; less on cost, more on fun !! And it was a wonderful experience organizing this trek and seeing many freshers enjoy the experience ! Thanks to all the volunteers and participants for making it a wonderful trek !
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It was a lovely day, spending fun moments with kids in a pristine locale ! A true Mother's Day where I,  the Mother became a child in the lap of Mother Nature !
~Punitha
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