After a two month hiatus, I was itching to go on a trek when the mail for western peak single day trek came. And being the only day free for a couple of weeks, I signed up instantly. My previous visits to Nagala have all been a combination of trekking and picnics in the eastern range so this was my first time trekking up the western peak.
On 23rd Feb at 3:45 AM, the 16 member sleep deprived group started from Koyumbedu. After a refreshing stop for tea near Nagalapuram bus stop, we reached the Western side at just as dawn was creeping up behind the hills. After a quick bite, full of energy and enthusiasm we set out with a goal of reaching the western peak by and having breakfast on the peak. Very soon, we came across the western stream and followed it. Pools came and went as we made good time. By we had reached mini-Kuttralam and waited for a couple of people to catch up with Ela and Karthik bringing up the rear. After a long time, we decided to have breakfast there instead of wasting time. What started out as a 10 min halt stretched to more than 30min. The four hour goal seemed to slip away. Finally at , started ascending up the hill and spent the next half hour cursing the bloody thorns that plagued our path (or the lack of one). After a quick and steep descend, we came by the stream and followed it to Pool 5. It was already . Here the slow trekkers decided to stay back while the rest climbed the peak. So 14 of us set out in earnest with just water and some snacks. We made really good time and after a while decided to ditch the trail and make straight for the western ridge. By we reached the peak and relaxed. Spent a good hour taking photos and talking about various arbitrary topics.
We made it and the only thing remaining was the descent back. It was a perfect trek till then. Everything went according to plan. And then we started our descent back at . A group of 7 started quickly headed by Nachi while the rest came a bit leisurely. We didn’t catch the trail, but weren’t concerned as our GPS showed us we should catch up to it eventually. And then suddenly we came up against a rock face in front of us. None of us expected it and we had run out of water and food at the peak itself. We spent a good half hour trying to find some way other than climbing back up to the trail. But there was no other way other than backtracking for over two kilometers. After cursing the contour data, we had only one option remaining, rapidly gain altitude and get back to the trail. Only problem was, the trail was atleast a 100m above us and the climb was almost 80° steep. In some places, it was almost vertical. Full of dry sand and loose rocks, we took at almost an hour to climb that face and exit the valley. And to make matters worse, my hands were not free as I had a bottle and my GPS too.
Finally, at around we reached the trail and let out a huge sigh of relief. By the time we got back, the rest were about to send out a search party to look for us. Starving, we attacked our lunches with gusto. Dried idlies never tasted better. After lunch, we dived into pool 5. The pools are the best part of Nagala. In all other places, especially the Western Ghats, they are freezing cold and can give you a bad case of sniffles after swimming in them. But the clear, deep pools of Nagala are just right. Cool enough to feel relaxed, refreshed and energized. At pool 5 we met Raj Jacob’s group who were on a two day moderate trek. Nachi decided to leave early with the slow hikers while Ela would bring the rest later. Most however left with Nachi to take a dip in Pool 3. We started our descent and soon reached mini- Kuttrallam, when we had our next problem. Kamal and Anitha, who were lagging behind were lost. Kamal got a signal and called Nachi, who went to look for them. After about 30mins, Nachi came back with the two in tow and we started our descent to Pool 3. A corporate group picnic with lots of soupy noodles was having a picnic there. After gulping down some of their noodles we dived into the pool again (this is Nagala) before continuing our descent down to the van. We reached the Dam just as the last rays of the sun were receding by and waited for the rest. Again, Kamal and Anitha took the longest and we waited for over an hour for them to reach us. The corporate team, who we had passed long ago had already left while we waited. Finally at 7 30 PM we started back to Koyembedu. Hungry and tired, we had to skip our dinner at the usual stop as a couple of people (including me) had a train to catch. Finally at we had reached Koyembedu bus stand and while the rest went to AAB, Arjun and I rushed to catch our train back to Bangalore.