Thursday, September 13, 2012

Post Trek Write up - Monsoon Survival Mission – Mind over body - Keerthana



July 13th to 15th 2012

Dear Reader,
Word of CAUTION: The write up is pretty long and may put you to sleep.
Word of advice: if you are an insomniac, the read may help :P
Cheers  
K                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired."
- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian
It was around 4:15 a.m. when Karan with the GPS in his hand, asked the bus driver to stop the bus in the middle of nowhere. The bewildered bus driver said “here?!” and Karan replied “yes, here”. The bus came to a halt in a few seconds and 21 of us, hard core trekkers got down from the bus. I got out my torch in a few minutes with the help of the light coming from the trucks/buses on the road while the rest of them were busy trying to get their torches out or applying leech repellant.  I looked up at the sky to find the moon shining dimly at me through the translucent clouds. To the left side of the road, I could see a wall of soil covered in trees and to the right I could see thick vegetation. I was wondering from which side we would enter the forest and I was waiting to get in :) Peter asked everyone to start walking up the road and fill water bottles near a stream quickly. At 4:45 a.m., we followed Peter into the wild :)
We started our trek up the hill covered in wet leaves and soil. The hill was inclined at around 70 degrees in most of the places and I had to hold the trees and lift myself up to keep the next step. I kept slipping a few times initially and I wondered if I was doing the right thing by coming on this trek and all the things in the mail which said things like they will send us back if we are not up to it in the first few hours etc. kept running in my head. I was hesitating to hold the branches for support because I knew the forest was known for pit vipers.  Last two weekends I was on a leech trek, so at this point in time, that was the last thing I was worried about.  After a few minutes, I couldn’t spot the light from the person in front and I asked someone behind me to go ahead. Even though I was in the middle, I wondered if I was too slow and if I should head back, as I didn’t want to pace of the group to depend on me.  Soon, I met Peter and the rest of them who were ahead and Vishal (KP) had spotted a snake on the tree and I got to see its tail. As we waited for the others to come, after debating a lot with myself, I decided that I will keep up with the group as far as possible.  Soon we were on grassland and we regrouped here and then went in and out of a small forest and then we were back on the grassland.  We walked up the grassland for a bit and finally put down out sacks near a huge rock on our left from where I could see clouds in front and below us in the crack of dawn. It was beautiful :) I went and sat down on the rock staring at the beautiful thick clouds, behind which were mountains. At a distance below, I could see the road lit by the light of the truck and hear its horn. I was waiting to get deeper into the forest now, where all I could see was green, all I could hear was the song of the stream, all I could feel was the breeze and all I could smell was the wet soil :)

On a ridge :)
We now headed up the hill on our right and once I was on top of it, there was no looking back for me! I was so sure I will finish the entire trek no matter what :) I saw beautiful lush green mountains all around me :) I was in the middle of the entire group. A few trekkers were on the hill in front and a few on the hills behind. I thoroughly enjoyed the trek alone up and down a few of those green hills on the ridge, listening to the stream on my left and to the song of the whistling thrush singing away to glory :) Every time I was on top of a hill I would lift my hands and enjoy the breeze and every time I was on the saddle, I would enjoy the warmth and make a funnel around my ears with my hands to listen to the whistling thrush sing. To my left, there were patches of forest in the shade of bottle green in between the florescent green mountains. To my right were mountains far away colored in bottle green with patches of clouds on them. The sky was covered in clouds and gave a misty effect the whole time and I could not see the sun.  I think this was mother nature’s favorite painting  :) Monsoon trekking is the best thing that can happen to a trekker! :)

Misty mountains :)
It was around two hours since we started trekking and I was starving. I munched on an apple now, listening to the whistling thrush sing waiting for Peter and the rest of them to come. Now all of us headed up the next hill and a few more and regrouped on top of one of the hills with beautiful views 360 degrees around us :) All of us were wet already, walking in and out of clouds and the minute I stopped walking, I started to feel cold.  Muthu asked me what I want for breakfast and I told him I want hot filter coffee! It started to drizzle now and I sat on a rock facing the wind munching on a sweet bun. Once everyone were done eating, we headed to the saddle ahead. Some of us went left, only to realize that we were headed in the wrong direction. We gave a shout out to Karan and figured out he was on the next hill to our right and then all of us headed that way. We continued out walk along the ridges, enjoying the beautiful views Mother Nature had to offer and then entered the forest with thick vegetation. We were now descending from a peak which was at around 1200m to a stream which was at 900m. The leeches started to crawl up our feet! Bloody blood suckers! Mentally, I was prepared for more leeches attacking me and hence I wasn’t too upset with the number of leeches on my shoes and I made my way through the thorny bushes and beautiful trees jumping on a broken tree trunk once in a while. The last few meters to the stream was a steep descent. I had to skid on the loose mud to land on the base of a tree ahead, holding the branch of a tree behind (if I was lucky to find one without thorns). Soon we reached the beautiful stream on which the water looked like milk :) I dropped my sack and ran to a bolder near the water and freed my shoes and socks of a few leeches and dipped my feet in the cool water. There were a few leeches crawling towards me, so I quickly put on my shoes and went and stood another boulder, listening to the stream which made its way amid the beautiful forest, while the guys were having a ball taking a dip in the cool water.  We now filled water and then crossed the stream.

The gorgeous forest :)
Peter and KP were figuring out which way to climb up then took a big step up the soil wall. I looked up at Peter and told him I am not sure how I was going to do this and he told me “Mind over body Keerthana!” and then KP gave me a hand and I was up. I now walked behind both of them on a steep ascent, amazed by Peter’s speed and KP’s eye for details. KP spotted a bicolor frog camouflaged in the dark brown leaves and twigs and within a few minutes he spotted a gorgeous florescent green colored pit viper on a tree :) The three of us then went ahead admiring the elegant trees waiting for the rest of the team.

Camouflaged bicoloured frog :)

Gorgeous florescent green colored pit viper :)
Once everyone were there, we headed up to our right and then went down to the stream and regrouped once more.  I threw out a few leeches crawling up my shoes and then we were back in and out of a forest. I was happy seeing the grassland :) I stood on the huge boulder for a bit, staring at the forest we had just exited and the mountains and the clouds behind. I then turned and made my way up the grassland turning back every now and then to look at the gorgeous green mountains. I was again in the middle of the group with a few in the team ahead on the next hill and the rest on the boulder near the forest. I was now on top of a small hill and got an awesome 360 degree view all around me :) To my right were a lot of small hills, all florescent green, having a trail on them (the trail was distinct but looked unused as it was the same color as the florescent green hills) and on the remaining sides, there were mountains covered with patches of forest. I stood there for a bit in tranquility, listening to the whistling thrush :) I then headed up the hill only because the view from the top would be even better, turning  around 360 degrees every now and then. Soon I met Peter and the others who were munching on a snack.

Beautiful small hills :)
 This was the 1100m peak, the highest we had planned to scale on day one, although we had scaled another peak which was 1200m earlier in the day. The peak was covered in clouds and I was told I missed the awesome view by just a few minutes. I was pretty positive that I would get to see the view before we left the peak :)  I made sure my shoes and socks were leech free and then munched on chocolate cake while Peter was telling me where we were on the map he had. He had marked 6 trails on the map and we were on trail 3. We had to finish 4 by the end of the day. It was around 12:00 Noon now and we had trekked for more than 7 hours, covering 9 kms (aerial distance as per the map). What made the trek hard was the ascending and descending. We had scaled a lot of peaks till now. We had 6kms (aerial distance) more to go for the day. This was mostly descending so it would take us lesser time. Raj had found a deer’s antlers in the forest and got it to the peak. I was right, soon the clouds cleared on one side and I could see the beautiful small hills far away and similar ones closer to me :) In between were hills in different shades of green. To the left was betta, which I couldn’t see due to the clouds. I could hear a truck! I was sad that after walking so long, we were still so close to civilization and we may hit some jeep track or enter an estate! Then Peter told me that we can hear the sound from kms away which made me feel better :)
 
The mighty mountain with gorgeous waterfalls :)

We now headed to the left towards the next peak. We avoided stepping over fresh Bison crap here and there. As we walked on the ridges connecting the 1100m peak and the next peak, we spotted very small patches of forest in the middle of each hill and wondered how the forest was there, as there was no stream flowing there. Maybe it was because of the direction of the wind and the rain. One person in the team wanted to quit now and asked for an exit route. Peter asked all of us to continue the trek to the next peak and had a talk with the guy who later came along. We were now walking on the highest ridge in the area, before entering a forest and the views were jus breadth taking! There was a huge mountain to my left with one big waterfall and a few here and there on it! It was gorgeous! :)  Peter, Sankar and KP were discussion how they tried to reach the top of that mountain, but in vain in last year MSM.  Karan had seen a Bison resting and it had run away into the forest after seeing him. All of us went and sat at the entrance to the forest looking at the gorgeous mountain with waterfalls on it to our right and the small hills far away to our left. Most of us were tired and I was feeling a little drowsy, Peter sensed this and asked us to start trekking again. Taking one last look at the gorgeous mountain, I reluctantly went into the leech infested forest taking steps on Bison foot prints.  The trail was made by the Bison and hence it was relatively easy to walk in the forest without having to duck in and out of thorny bushes, but we had to jump over Bison poop and walk quickly to avoid the more leeches up our feet. At some points in the forest, we came across thick vegetation of plants which were around 2 feet tall, Muthu spotted a snake at one such area. Mostly when we were entering and exiting this kind of vegetation, we would come across creepers (which made it difficult to walk as my legs were getting tied down) and thorny bushes.
One of the things I thanked Mother Nature for was this: At most of the points in a forest, there are a few things that make it hard for me to trek, but never had there come a time when all the hard things presented themselves all at once. I have observed, if there are leeches, we were generally on an animal trail, which made the trek relatively easy; if there were creepers or thorny bushes, there were no leeches; if there was an ascent or descent too steep, there were trees with flexible branches or creepers around :) And the biggest treat for surviving all the odds were the gorgeous views that I got on the ridges and in the pleasure of walking amongst thick vegetation and crossing beautiful streams in the forest :)
We continued our walk in the dense forest and stopped once to make ourselves leech free. This time, I choose not to, as I felt a few more will crawl up my feet, in the process of me trying to remove a few. But when I stopped, waiting for the others to pull out leeches from their feet, I could feel them sucking my blood! Bloody blood suckers!  Bijesh was the worst hit. I looked away when I saw his frozen feet covered in blood. We then went up the hill and then came to a very small clearing from where I could see mountains covered in clouds to my left and there were thorny bushes and creepers to my right though which I made my way into the forest. We were now downhill and I slipped on the wet mud and in the process of trying to hold onto a tree in front, I hit my right thumb into the bark ending up with a wood in my already cut nail. The pain was unbearable for a bit, and I felt the whole nail will come out due to the pressure. We were then on the vegetation with 2 feet tall plants when it began to rain. Sankar was saying as per the forecast it would rain at 4:00 p.m. and yes it was! While some of us were trying to put on jackets, while Peter tried to remove the wood from my nail with a swizz knife while KP was asking me to calm down. Parts of it came out and I told them we will look at it once we camp and soon we were on our way down the forest making way through the creepers and thorny trees.
:D
Now we were walking up hill in the forest and I was desperately waiting to get back on the grassland. And thanks to Mother Nature, we were soon on grassland :)  It was beautiful here. The grassland here was very dense. I walked around 100m from the forest and sat down on the top of the flat hill cleaning my shoes & socks and then staring away to the beautiful green mountains in front. All the mountains were relatively closer here but with a forest in between. Peter was on a hill to my left and as I was munching on a sweet bun, some of us thought we can camp on the saddle between the hills we were on and Peter was on. Since we would freeze at night if we camped on the grassland, Peter told us to continue the trek into the forest (which was to my left, behind the hill Peter was on) and camp on a saddle in it. I got up and went up the hill where Peter was and the view from here was just breath taking! :) I went down the grassland in awe at all the mountains around covered in patches of clouds and I could hear the stream far down to my right. I now sat on the thick grass, got covered by it and felt at home as I stared at the mountains all around me :) I just didn’t want to budge from here. I reluctantly got up after a few minutes and continued my walk downhill on the beautiful grassland covered in creepers and every now and then I stopped to untangle my shoes tangled to the creepy creepers. I stopped at the point where the grassland ended, leading to the forest and sat down on some bushes with the others, waiting for the rest of the team to come. KP was telling me that the beautiful mountains in front were betta! :) Finally! I got to see the mountains that I want to climb someday :) I have heard so much about them :) The gorgeous mountain to the right of betta which was bottle green in color as it was covered in dense vegetation was betta :) After a while, once Peter, KP and Karan figured out which was the best route to descend with the least number of thorns, we followed them to the right. Now it was a steep descent with thorns and creepers everywhere and I had to think twice before holding onto anything for support. After a while we were on a creeper free trail, but that meant more leeches! KP had spotted a tortoise! :) I patted it on its shell and KP asked me not to go too close, as it would withdraw and stay inside for more than an hour and the others would miss seeing it. I acknowledged and bid the tortoise goodbye and was on my way downhill amid thin trees with way to move in-between. Peter told us to walk ahead a little, till we spot a place to camp at a saddle. After a while, few of us found a little clearing in front of us and few of them found a better clearing 20m uphill on the left, but clearly this was not a saddle. We waited at the better clearing for Peter to come and once he came and looked around the place, he decided we would camp here for the day as it was getting dark already and we were very close to the stream and hence had water for cooking. It was around 6:00 p.m. now. We had trekked for more than 13hrs for the day and had covered 18kms! :)
Few of us went to the stream to collect water, while the rest of us started to make tents out of branches, rocks, rope and tarp! :) I was in the tent making team, and this was the 1st time I was pitching a tent with these materials and I was overjoyed! :) I was helping Peter pitch a tent. We first cleared the area from stones and leeches(as much as possible) and then tied 3 branches together and made sure they stood firm on the ground and placed a similar thing around 7 feet away. We then places around 8 feet long branch connecting these 2 structures on top. We then placed one tarp on the ground and one tarp on the 8 feet long branch. We then tied the 4 corners of the tarp with rope and tied it to a small rock to make sure the tarp does not have any creases (to ensure it does not collect water and then drip on us from below). And tadaaa the tent was ready :) I then went and started making soup. Once we drank the yummy hot watery soup in our tent, Subha decided to call it a day. It was dark now and I began to pitch in to make Maggie with a few others. It was drizzling on and off. Half the group which had gone to get water was back and a few of them were missing. Since Karan was with the missing team, Peter was confident that they had headed to the planned camp site for day 1 and since they had GPS and food with them, there was nothing to worry about.  Finally, Maggie was ready and I made sure Subha ate too, because we had trekked a lot on day one and we had 2 more days to go. Ensuring that I was covered from head to toe in my sleeping bag, hoping against hope that there is no place for a leech to bite except my face, I closed my eyes and fell asleep in no time :) I woke up a few times at night to hear the rain drops hitting hard on the tarp and I could feel my feet getting a little cold. But due to the exhaustion, I fell asleep in a few minutes.
Peter woke us up at around 6:00 in the morning. When I got up and sat up all groggy looking at poor KP who had not slept the whole night, he told me a leech was on my cheeks! I thought he was kidding and ignored him, but when he asked me to touch my cheeks, I found dried blood! Yuck! Bloody blood suckers! I got up and gave my sleeping bag to KP who then caught up with some sleep while we heated milk powder and water and added some sugar to eat with cereal for breakfast. Once we were done eating, Subha and I went to the stream which was beautiful with a small waterfall on its right to clean our boxes. We then went back to our camp site and packed our backpacks and were ready to start our trek :)
Trek in the jungle :)
We now started our descent in the dense jungle :) The descent was pretty steep. I kept clinging on to the branches of trees till I could find another one which was thorn free and the process continued. There were a lot of times when I didn’t follow Peter on the trail he made, reason being, if he was a little ahead to my left/right, I would take the shortest route to reach him instead of tracing the path he had made. As I put my feet on the ground filled with dry leaves, I kept wondering a few times if a snake had laid eggs below! This motivated me to walk right behind the person in front! There were a few times when Sankar and Vipin would take go in different directions and I would be right behind. I would shout out to Peter and then go wherever he suggested.  We were back to an area in a forest covered with dense vegetation and creepers. We then ascended a bit and waited here. Peter and Sankar were trying to find the best way to our right through a dense cover of small trees. The branches of these trees were entangled in such a way that we had to duck and go under them, or squeeze ourselves through them. It was a little tricky with backpacks on. Once they found the best way out, I followed Peter, squeezing myself between branches, crouching and crawling under the next few and then I was finally out of the tangle! :) Peter and Sankar went ahead in different directions and I didn’t know which way to head. Assuming they were figuring out which way to go like before, I asked the entire group to wait here and I was trying to memorize everyone’s names.  After a while I called back to Peter and he told me I should have followed him (Sankar was with him now).  All of us then headed downhill to our right and soon came across a stream.  We followed the gorgeous stream downhill and I took a sip of the cool water and continued my way along the many small waterfalls made by the stream and finally came across a huge fallen tree. While I was deciding if I should duck down and go on the other side of the tree or take a right turn, Raj called out to me from my right! I was glad to see Raj smiling; it meant the other 5 were safe :) I jogged to my right and followed Raj on the trail. We then came to a clearing, where 5 of them had camped at night. I put down my backpack and ran to the gorgeous stream, threw away my shoes and dipped my feet in the cool water :)
Beautiful stream :)
It was amazing how the 5 of them had made their way thought the dense jungle at night. I listened to Raj, Muthu & Karan as they narrated their adventure :) Soon Subha joined me and the two of us were watching all the guys jumping around in the water having a blast after the exhausting descent :) It was now time for us to head back. We wore our leech free shoes and started our trek from the clearing where the 5 of them had camped and took a left on the trail. We walked up the trail for a bit and then crossed the river with a helping hand. I went and sat on a rock on the other side munching on an apple waiting for the others to come. We were now on a hazy trail to our right which was infested with leeches. We climbed/jumped over a lot of huge broken trees on our way, crossed a lot of small streams and walked along streams. There were a lot of leeches inside my shoes and I ignored them for a while. At one point where we had to take a right at a stream, away from it, most of them decided to clean their shoes. I thought it was a wise idea and I removed my socks to find too many sucking from one point. I freaked out for a bit and threw them into the water and Peter ensured that there were no more on my socks! Bloody blood suckers! Disgusting creatures! Poor KP was the worst hit now and I felt disgusted seeing loads of them on his feet and turned away only to find Sankar applying Savlon wherever possible on his feet. I then distract myself by looking at the beautiful forest and the stream :) It was now time to head right and we crossed a few more streams and walked along some of them. Fatigue was giving in and I was praying that we reach grassland soon and we did! :)
Gorgeous waterfalls on a misty mountain :)
Thanks to Mother Nature, all the hard work paid off :) Initially, all I could see was few trees on both sides and some mountains covered in mist to my right. But as we ascended, the view on the right got better (with more mountains in sight) and then we reached a flat area where there was 360 degree view :) I could see stretch of beautiful mountains covered with mist above them and with dense forests in-between in front, a huge mountain with dense vegetation all over and a gorgeous waterfalls at back and a trees at a distance to my left (that’s where we were headed next) and right. I sat on a boulder, cleaning my socks and shoes from leeches while waiting for everyone to come. Most of us were tired and we decided to break here for lunch. After munching on a lot of Khakra with Cheeze, we headed to our left. After taking one last look at the beautiful waterfalls on the elegant mountain, I followed Sankar and Vipin on the grassland. We came to a point where we could walk to our left and into the jungle, or walk up the grassland for a bit & then head down into the jungle. Sankar went left and Vipin went up and I just waited there and told the others to wait as well. Once Sankar shouted out from the jungle asking me to follow, few of us went left on the grassland and into the forest and then went up a very steep descent clinging onto trees and loose mud. Most of them had followed Vipin and we met them on the top. After a few ascends and descends in the forest, we were almost running out of water. All of us were sipping on water mixed with electrol as fatigue was giving in and we rested near some huge rocks in the forest. I looked around me and the forest looked the same in every direction! We now followed Peter and soon hit a stream.  We crossed another stream and climbed the roots of a humungous tree and then up a wall made by the tree’s bark and then were on the other side of it and on a trail. We followed a stream for a bit and when we had to deviate from it, Peter told us that this would be the last water point for the day and we had to each fill 2 liters of water. 
Sweet water from the stream :)
We were now at a spot with 3 trails around us. One was to our left, and then heading straight up; to our right were two more trails out of which one was branching to our left another going straight. All of us first followed Peter to the left and then up and then came back realizing it’s the wrong route. Then we headed to our right and after covering some distance, realized it’s the wrong route. It started to rain now and I put on my jacket. We then followed Peter on the right trail which deviated to the left and waited for a bit. I was feeling a big hard lump below my toes on the left feet from quite some time now. I thought it was a leech which was fed well and wanted to remove it now as most of us were waiting while a few of them were figuring out which way to head. I removed my shoes and socks to find nothing, not a leech, not a rock. I put on my socks and shoes and felt the lump again. Not knowing what it was and assuming a rock must have gotten in again, I continued limping now when they had decided that this too was the wrong way! Welcome to betta with GPS, you will still be lost! :P But since we were with Peter, there was not a moment that I panicked not knowing where to head. I was sure he would figure that out very soon.  All of us now headed left and up (the first trail that we thought was right) and continued our trek up the trail.
The beautiful humongous tree :)
We continued our walk in the forest and came to a clearing where the trail deviated to the right and there were huge leeches crawling up my feet here and we had to wait for Peter to tell us which way to head. As I was marching in the same spot waiting for Peter, I was glad to see the sunlight after walking in the tree cover for so long. We headed to our right once Karan confirmed and after a bit, to our left, we could see grassland on the top. There was a trail going to the grassland and I was tempted to go on it. All of us were now waiting for Peter. Vipin was saying that we need to continue walking in the forest as it was the shortest way to our destination, else we will be going up and down the grassland. Raj had found a bullet and all of us were admiring it. Once Peter was there, I followed Vipin who was leading us. He spotted a beautiful florescent orange pit viper on the trail, to our right. I cautiously made my way to the left, on some rocks and through webs and continued walking along the trail. The trail was ascending and descending and had leeches on it. It started to rain heavily now and I continued walking along the trail and we soon hit a jeep track! :) To our left, the trail was deviating to its left and right; and to our right, the trail was heading to a village. All of us regrouped here and then headed to our right.
We walked up the jeep track and took a turn to our right and walked along the neatly trimmed bushes which were fence to the coffee estate. The trail curved to our left and then went downhill and the first turn to our left, we found ourselves in front of a small temple with enough shelter for all of us to camp. I dropped down my bag, removed my shoes and stepped into the temple. I limped till the main door only to find it locked and I was tempted to ring the bell in front of the door, but Peter told me not to (as it may attract unwanted attention from the villagers).  I now sat down and turned my feet to find 2 toes blistered beneath. So it was not a leech/rock that was hurting me all this while.
View from a hillock in a village :)
 Peter told us that we can join him to explore the village we were in. I was contemplating whether to stay back and rest my toes so that it would be easy to trek tomorrow or push myself and explore the village and trek tomorrow. I listened to a few suggestions that hinted I will be fine and headed out to explore the village with Peter and 7 others. I wore my floaters now and headed down the jeep track in front of the temple, only to find a lot of leeches crawling up my feet. Rajeev was having problems with his slippery slippers and the both of us went back to the temple, put on shoes (bad idea as my toes needed to breathe) and jogged back to catch up with Peter and the others. The place was covered in mist and it was hard to spot the team. I shouted out and got a reply and then Rajeev and I went to our left, into an open area covered in grass. We joined the rest of them and then all of us jumped gates and fences to find ourselves amid cultivation. We spoke to a few locals who were working in the fields and then spotted a hill behind us, which was the highest in the area and decided to climb it. We trespassed a few houses (some with dogs) and some more fields and then went up the little hill. The view of the colorful fields below, the trees around them and the mountains far away all under a cover of mist was so soothing and a perfect ending to the adventurous trek that we had that day. After taking a lot of jumping pictures, we sat in silence for a bit enjoying the spell of rain and then retraced our route back to the temple, as it was getting dark and all of us didn’t have a torch. We had covered 20 kms on day 2.
My toes were in worse condition now. They were very sore and a lot of water kept oozing out. Sankar gave me a cream which I applied and it started to burn. I sat nursing it for a while, till someone made soup. Once I finished drinking the soup, I went and sat with KP and the others who were around the pot cooking Maggie. Since I was starving, I sat right next to the pot to taste the Maggie every once in a while to make sure it was cooking just right :P Once Maggie was ready, I served it to everyone who did amma tai and then ate my share :) It was now time to go to sleep. I lay down tucked up in my sleeping bag, listening to the sounds of insects (and few others snoring  :P), staring at the beautiful fireflies and soon fell asleep.
En route betta :)
It was around 7:00 a.m. the next day morning when I heard a few people talking and got up. We were supposed to leave to Betta by now, but most of us were still asleep. My toes had gotten worse. The blister had now spread to 4 toes and I could walk by putting pressure only on the left heels. Once I was done brushing, I went limping to the pot which now had water and tea powder boiling in it, warming myself. Once all of us were done drinking tea with/without milk powder (we had choice even on a trek :P ) and munching on khakra and cheese burger, I wrapped each blistered toe with a tape and then put on my shoes. I was eagerly waiting to scale the highest peak in this range, standing at 1387m :)
En route betta to a village :)
11 of us had the energy to scale betta. We went uphill and straight ahead instead of taking a right turn. I realized it was easy to jog so I jogged for a while, till we realized it was the wrong route. Once we were on the right path, on the jeep track which we had taken yesterday, I started to jog downhill again. Once I was at the exit spot (from the forest) of day 2, I waited for Peter to tell me whether to take the left or right turn ahead. He told me right and I started to limp uphill. I was now worried whether I will make it to the top. We now came to a flat land from where we could spot the peak and this motivated me to scale betta and I was sure I would! :) We now went zigzag along the trail and up a few hills, in and out of a few forests. And we were soon on a ridge that was going to take us to betta. The plan was to start at 7:00 a.m., but we started only at around 8:30 a.m. We had calculated that the entire trek to betta and back would take 5 hours and I didn’t want to slow down the group. So I kept pushing myself to keep walking up the steep climb to betta, admiring the mountains around covered in mist. I could now spot the betta peak and I was waiting to get on top! :) I pushed myself and walked up an even steeper climb and soon was on the top! :) I was elated! :) There were a few stones and a lamp made out of stone on the top which made a temple. I removed a few leeches that were in my shoes and sat down staring at the mist around praying that it would clear and I get to see the view from top :) Raj gave Subha and me beautiful purple white flowers :) The rest of the gang came and sat around and everyone were busy yakking .I wanted some quiet, so I asked Peter if I could sing and then started to, once he gave a go signal. I felt at peace and on top of the world, while singing “On top of the world” :)and I thanked Mother Nature for all that she had done to help me scale this peak :) The mist cleared for a bit and I was able to see the other hills below and the beautiful blue sky :)
Those of you who like the original, please don’t commit suicide :P
It was around 12:00 Noon now and time for us to head back. We had scaled the peak in lesser time than calculated :) Unintentionally I became the sweeper now. I sucked on a lemon and slowly limped downhill. We zigzagged our way across the hills and forest, regrouping once in a forest to munch on khakra and drink the sweet water from the stream and then headed back to the temple. Once at the temple, we cleaned the place, packed and got ready to trek on jeep track for another 5 kms to reach the nearest bus stop. I now rang the temple bell and as I heard the beautiful sound of the bell, I was happy with myself for completing the 3 day monsoon mission and to have survived all odds and thanked Mother Nature once again :) As I limped away from the temple, I realized my mind had won :) We had completed 56kms at the end of the trek :)
My mind had won :)
“To those who have struggled with them, the mountains reveal beauties that they will not disclose to those who make no effort. That is the reward the mountains give to effort. And it is because they have so much to give and give it so lavishly to those who will wrestle with them that men love the mountains and go back to them again and again. The mountains reserve their choice gifts for those who stand upon their summits.” (Sir Francis Younghusband)
Thank you Peter, Sankar and Karan for organizing this amazing trek from CTC and thank you team :)
Thank you Peter for all the beautiful pictures :)
Thank you Priyanka for sharing the beautiful quotes :)

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