Excellent Write up from Siddharth:
It was almost a month long hibernation for me-missed a hell a lot of 5th birthday treks!!!Was very badly waiting for my next trek but each weekend kept passing......and finally it was prem who came to my rescue! It was the Emperor's Express trek IV-din't even feel like calling him up and inquiring about the plan/terrain/team or anything-just registered blindly :)It was a three day trek but that dint stop me from registering-bunking office on a for an express trek would probably be the most sensible thing for someone like me :P
It was a silent morning one day before the trek, and Prem came up with a shocker-'We are leaving tonight':O That meant I had to leave early from office,plus I could not buy a weinbreiner for the trek :( My several attempts at borrowing a shoe had failed the previous night and I couldn't afford going barefoot on a trek with Prem ! So made up my mind-ended up with some brand new local shoe after confirming very many times about the warranty, terms & conditions :) Anand sir sent the prep mail and thats when I came to know abt the team size-Just 6 of us :O Thanks to a drop out-we were at last reduced to 5 !!! After a real last minute packing,buying food and other items,I reached Rohini theatre,where Prem was waiting - Anand Sir reached in a few mins and we set out to fix his car puncture.'Our Experienced Trekker' Ram Mohan arrived at last and we left for a biriyani dinner,with Prem's words-'This is your last good meal for three days' :P
Picked up Busa at Karanodai and then set out to the foothills.Had a heavy discussion-if we need to skip sleeping and scale the southern peak or sleep over and then follow the south east stream.Busa succesfully brainwashed all of us and made us sleep :P The next morning,we learnt it the hard way-scaling up the southern peak would have been easier than waking up some one like Ram Mohan :P We parked the car at a nearby house and after a long walk,reached the Kailash kona falls,from where the trek would start!!I remember this stretch from my previous South-East trek with emperors and now,the condition was worse-with bottles,plates and glasses floating all round the pool.
We climbed up the falls,passed our bags and started hopping along the boulders -the water level along the stream was decent,much more than what I had seen during my last trek .Dipped in at two mini pools there,with one having a mini slide too.Stopped for a bread breakfast by the side of a huge falls like structure-I remember having lunch here during my previous south east trek.It was a huge crowd then and we had a nice time standing beneath the falls,posing for pics and experiencing the pricking,tickling sensation.Now, we were a compact,ready for anything group and we wanted to reach the huts before the sun gets high :)
After breakfast,things became slighly difficult for me-the huge thorns and the undergrowth all along,the loose boulders and several other factors made things tough for me and I started lagging behind,with several huge thorn pricks on my hands.We soon went up the ridge-though a bit hot,this was easier for me than the boulders :) We expected to go to the south-east campsite with huts and then to the origin there,but that dint happen :( Went round the central peak and then Prem took us to the marathon trail-Now Ram was finding it difficult.And we no longer had any stock of water,except for the 2 litre reserve that I was carrying.The sun was literally at the peak of its cruel form and we were getting fast exhausted, like our water reserves :( Little did we know that this was just a preparation for the last day's trek!!!
Meanwhile,Prem and Anand sir got into a bet,which Prem won,though Anand sir claims it was not convincing enough :P Several dry streams later,we finally got into a big stream,which would lead us to Picnic pool,our camping spot for the day. Fortunately,there was some water trickling down a side stream .Though a nearby beehive was scaring us,we decided to stay there and have lunch-rusk with cheese,nutella and tang. A few minutes of rest and we started moving again,after waking up Ram. Slowly,the water level started increasing.And soon,there was a kutti falls with a wonderful pool :) Prem's nasty (A)joke deterred Ram from getting into the pool :P We proceeded along the stream.Prem and Busa moved up quickly and the the rest of us walked slowly,following the stream,moving up the ridge at some points.This stretch was wonderful -abundant shade,comfortable small small boulders and water everywhere :) Soon,picnic pool was in sight.
Anand sir,Busa and Ram started setting up the camp site and I was helping Prem with his crunches :P Ram declared that he wanted to drop out the next day,due to some headache.Everyone had their share of dipping and jumping into the picninc pool-I just lay down flat-relishing the beauty of the place and the day's trek.And finally,I was now at the famous picnic pool-which has been evading me for the past one year :D Tea was served and then they started playing cards....I was the scorer and as usual dint understand even a minute bit of the game :) Ram as usual started sleeping and woke up when dinner was ready-A wonderful dinner of piping hot rice with ghee,Gongura and mango pickle(Courtesy Busa).And thanks to Anand sir for his excellent mixing :) The cards game continued and I retired for the day-we were scheduled to leave early the next day ,so as to escape the dry trail and reach the stream before the sun rises.
The next day-had tea again,followed by a quick breakfast of noodles with pickle- the scheduled early start dint happen and we had to tolerate the heat-no other go!!! A quick,thorny climb of 150m and then some slight ups and downs-Some dense bushes which we had to cross with utmost care & caution, as a bear has been sighted there recently , a small man-made hut like structure and then...finally,we were on the trail!!Encountered some wood cutters on the way and realized we were close to some village and then later understood that this was the exit route which Prem had planned for Ram.It was the eastern exit which we were approaching.Soon we entered the stream-gave away the thrash to Ram,took back the common gear from him ,redistributed everything ,had some well deserved rest and then started offwe were now reduced to four:( And now there was no one to question and torture Prem :PPrem's objective was to scale the eastern peak by EOD :O Enroute,we crossed the 1st pool,central pool and a cool cave like structure. It was decided that we would have our lunch at the sliding pool and then proceed.The sliding pool was yet another new location for me and the view of the magic pool were splendid.After spending some time at the sliding pool,we came up for lunch-the rice was almost ready and we finished off our stock of gongura and some pickle.
After lunch,it was a few minutes of walk along the stream and then we had to climb up the ridge- there was a small part of it which was really steep.Prem & Busa climbed up a dry stream pretty easily.After a couple of failed attempts,myself and Anand sir decided to brave the thorns by the side-as both my hands and legs were already damaged comprehensively,I dint have any problem with the thorns :) This stretch was very tiring with several steep climbs and descents- and no water,except for the reserves which we had. Had adequate rest and proceeded-soon,reached the 300m falls.Water flow was scanty but sufficient-had to make a couple of trips up & down to collect water and firewood for cooking,drinking,washing vessels and then for the morning chores. They started playing cards and I slept off.Dinner was soup with Pasta and some left-over pickle. We retired for the day on one nearby dry stream-the '2 days-past full' moon was shining gloriously and I was shivering with cold-dint feel like spreading out my sleeping bag though.All three of us except Prem were tired but our minds were eagerly waiting for the next day's trek-which Prem had promised would be a trek of a lifetime :) And personally for me,many of my must visit places-the pools of the east and then the Tada top would have been visited and checked off in style :)
The next day,woke up early morning and discovered that all of us had ended up with some trouble in the tummy-probably the previous day's pasta or the near-stagnant water !! Though this was discouraging,we dint allow this to deter us-Had our oatmeal breakfast there,filled our bottles and left for the day- We were in search of an ancient British jeep trail which would lead us to Tada top. Thankfully, Prem evaded a 200m climb up which we were all dreading :)As expected,there wasn't any water point all along the way and the trail too was non-existent. The heat was picking up and we had to rest often. It all trickled down to the 'Mind Over Body' motto now-I was all exhausted,just dragging along.Our legs needed rest but we knew that rest wasn't affordable now. We had to reach Tada top and get down before it gets dark!!To add to my woes,my shoe had cracked out at the sole and I had the pleasure of feeling the earth with each and every step of mine :)Hot sun,scanty shade,no water , heavy backpacks and exhausation from the two previous days-it couldn't get worse ,but we were loving this :)
Soon the jeep trail came in sight and we picked up speed-We had some pretty good 20+ Kms ahead of us!!!! As this was supposed to be a bear infested area,we decided to stay and trek as a group!!!Emptied the available nutella packets at some point on the way and Prem promised to show us water in some another one and a half hours. At one point,we decided to move down towards the stream as we dint want to risk staying water-less till we reach Tada Top.This was in fact the best decision of the day -the Stream was super cool-a climb down and not so exhausting :)Though it was dry initially,we soon encountered water-stagnant at first and then moving :) After someone sighted bear foorprints,droppings and broken tree branches,we started walking extra careful.And we realized the real use of Anand sir's voice-loud enough to frighten away any kind of bear,leopard,Elephant or any other wildlife which you would hope to encounter in a forest :P.This stretch was shady and fun to walk along.And not to forget the experience-several steep vertical climb downs and bag passings and some beautiful streams and pools-The arch pool,leaf pool,deep pool and several places visited by very few CTC teams :)
Soon,we reached Tada top-had some cool soothing time in a not so deep pool,emptied our tang and rasna supplies,clicked some pics and then left-We will now have to climb down to the base of Tada and then exit through Varadhaiya Palayam!! Prem warned us that this climb down to the base was a bit dangerous with steep vertical drops at several points and also because he had sighted pythons there in his last trip !!And one more reason -there has been a bee attack previously in one of the spots with vertical drops !!!! Thrilled , anxious and eager,we rushed down-My shoes had worn out completely and I was grappling for some grip with each and every step- really slowed down ,but that dint matter,as it was almost the end of the trek,except for the two climb downs which prem had mentioned about !!We could now hear the noise of the human civilisation down from the falls-it was a mixed feeling now!!!Happy on almost having completed a wonderful trek and sad on thinking about how our lives would take a drastic turn back towards normalcy from the day after :(The climb downs were done with utmost care and safety,though we managed to do it without ropes. Thanks to Prem,Busa for guiding me!!!
After this,there wasn't much of a worry for us-we now had to face troubles of a different kind.Bottles,broken,shattered and abundant were present everywhere,in fact in each and every step :( And there were plenty of other things to complain about-disposable plates,glasses,polythene covers,cloths and left over food items!!! Imagine-a pristine forest with crystal clear water and proof of wildlife just above us and down the hill,we human monkeys are spoiling everything!!!!It was almost the same case at our entry point too-Kailash Kona falls!!!Probably this is what access of irresponsible humans to nature results in!!! Such access is indeed nature's bane :(
Soon we had to meddle with share auto drivers and local goons to get back to TP Kota,where our car was parked-we probably loved the wild independence of the forest more than this 'so called civilization'!!!
Had dinner,reached home and slept-woke up with pain in the limbs for the next 2-3 days,but was loving it-Felt good in fact !!!56 KM in rough ,hostile terrain under high temperature with partial availability of water-Made up for my 1 month hibernation and gave me the confidence to take up many more difficult missions in the future :) Thanks team for the wonderful trek :)
And above all,completed 1 year with CTC on April 1st,a few hours after this trek-it has been a wonderful one year!!!!Thanks everyone :)