Post Trek Write up - Emperors Trek to Nagala East to West

Friday, May 16, 2014
Write up by Badri Narayanan

Do you remember the day when you were awake all night getting ready to go and speak to that person whom you have had a big time crush on for a long time?? Sleepless, but still your eyes pleading to you requesting you to just let it shut for a few hours. That is how my journey began.. the following day was a big day as it was my first trek to Nagala Hills. Since I am new I never knew the difference between a Moderate or Moderate + and especially Moderate ++. But my fellow Trekkers made me understand that level in a trek never matters as long as you enjoy it. The day began very early with all of us boarding the buses from Madhya Kailash to Koyambedu. We already began to have a feel of the trek as we were constantly bitten by mosquito's who kept reminding us about whats to come?. At Koyambedu we stopped for some hot Tea and Coffee to refresh. I still wonder how some of you were able to have bondas right it the morning but as venki always says “Soru nu vanthuta vera enthayum pakka mattom”. We refreshed ourselves and headed right for the time of our life or so I thought. Very soon we had our own god created alarm clocks ringing and I could hear many begging the driver to stop for breakfast. I loved it when Ramesh actually thought we were stopping for breakfast every time the van slowed down for speed breakers. Before we knew it we were feasting upon our breakfast. To draw the right analogy it was more like Nagala hills made of idly and the streams were hot sambar and chutney. With that we reached the East side of the nagala hills and started unpacking and packing all gears. We began the trek with a normal trail walking and then we caught up pace as we had a long distance to cover within a short time.

The start was mind blowing as the view showed us the vast beauty of the hills we were to explore and the adventure we were getting ourselves into. We were very fast and crossed the trails to reach the Dead end lake in no time. Thanks to Sweepers Mr. Kumaresh (Come on guys keep moving keep moving run run run!!!) and Mr. Arun Prasath (fast fast fast keep going keep going). I felt like I was the lion being chased by the ring master. With that constant sound we kept running brisk and fast. The moment we reached the dead end pool everybody started to take off their shoes and started wearing swimming gears. As I was totally new I eagerly asked a fellow trekker what we are to do. When he told me what we were to do, I really felt that it was time to head back. I never had the courage to move forward. I was choked and totally afraid to move forward. You might have seen in movies just like any adverse situation always tends to get worse our also did, We had a big bee hive just near the lake and we were instructed to keep silent and swim across.

 It was a wonderful display of team effort of how we crossed that section with all people planning thing and making a ferry and wonderfully carrying us across. But in reality for me it was like a rebirth. After that it was a total rush to reach the picnic pool as soon as possible. The gauge part of the trek was really a challenge. Crossing all the boulders and heading out across was totally a life thrilling experience. As we slowly started to gas out the sweepers kept pushing us by motivating us that we are to have lunch if we reach there soon. With only lunch in mind we all reached the picnic pool very early and all of us took a dive in and beautifully enjoyed the cold water. As the master-chefs got ready to make lunch a couple of us were busy taking snaps with JP the Profiler who made sure we all had a perfect pic to put in FB.. But currently even after a week we are eagerly waiting for Jp's album ,Just like we are waiting for Kochadayan to release.

Never in my life has the corriander thokku tasted soooo goood. Never in my life have i wanted more of the vethakuzhambu mix. In fact I was so hungry that I put the boiled rice inside the bottle and made a clean sweep of its contents. Nobody would have guessed that there was anything inside I made sure I “Vazhichified” all its contents.We then heard the Tiger Vipin say “Okay gear up all of you, Next destination 50 meter Falls”. Initially I thought I could make it, so I wore my shoes and got ready. But as soon as I saw everyone climb up the falls. I could literally feel my legs give up and I heard an inner voice “Sethanda Sekaru”. Slowly everyone climbed up and went ahead and I decided to give company to Jp and avinash. Had a great time with avinash chatting and getting to know about Emperors and their Treks. I felt goose bumps literally when avinash told how Vipin, himself and another friend had discovered the trail for this trek and I knew that the next day was going to be much more challenging and adventurous.

That evening after everyone returned we started to cook dinner. Guess what? I never knew you could make biriyani in a trek but man what preparation. We all sat down doing our bit for the

preparation cutting vegetables,Washing Utensils. I always believe that leadership is not something thats thought but it something thats caught. I saw true leadership in all of them that day. The night was beautifully lit with the Full moon and soft breeze. It was a totally different experience being in the wild. Listening to the sounds of the forest and completely dark surroundings. The best was when Jp introduced his friend Ramu who was apparently a biig fish in the pool. It was scary as only that afternoon we all had a swim in that pool. It was then time to hit the bed with our alarms set to 6:00 AM sharp as we had a loooooooooooooooooong day ahead. The next morning was really beautiful as we were all in our sleeping bags and It was looking like caterpillars inside their cocoons. We got up and geared ourselves for the day to come packing everything, filling up the bottles and drying all the shoes by putting them in the camp fire. We all heated up sitting next to the fire. We then had tea which was blissful as it energized us big time and got us ready for the challenges of the day. The start of the day was a steep uphill climb and man it was hard as many of us were very closely climbing next to one other. After we got down the other end it was a run along the stream and our very own duty officers were back on track pushing us to move forward. We ran as fast as we could and as hard as we could as the only thing in our mind was to clear the distance as soon as possible. Avinash had mentioned earlier that the second day was filled with climbing big rocks and boulder and I had a picture of myself doing the mission impossible like tom cruise. But in reality it was much more harder. But we made sure we kept moving paced up completely. With no water anywhere we had to make sure we were not exhausting our water resource and kept pacing ahead. By the time it was lunch we were exhausted and waiting to hit a water site. We reached the 5th pool and set out for lunch. Yummy aval with sugar best combo suggested by sundari. We refilled the bottles and started off all energized to be out of Nagala on time. But what we expected did not happen as we didnt know the trail of where we had to go. We went up and came down many a time to figure out our way just then the best thing happened. We all got ourselves a little time to relax as our lead went ahead to find us the route to move about. It was time to take some selfie pictures and also the landscapes. Later did someone tell me that it was Viper snake zone. I wonder why everyone tells things only after we have been through the space lol.

Once we were back on track there was no time to waste and we were literally slidding, falling, slipping,running to heard to the 3rd pool. We were all dirty with the sand and sweat and were eagerly waiting to reach the pool. “Run Run Run just 15 min more just 10 min more” our thala pushers were pushing us big time and mannn what a view it was. For all of us who were waiting to jump in the water and take a big time dip. It was like heaven. The vast scene and the lovely cold water and the beautiful terrain. Man we all got crazy and geared to do big time dives. Veerapandi made the best attempt at the dive but ended up doing the classic frog jump. Followed by aravind who made sure he jumped flat inside. Vipin the star diver absolutely did a perfect dive and landed smoothly. Kudos to sruthi for making her first dive form the same spot. The fear of water was no more and I was happy to take a dip and enjoy myself. It was time for group pics and jp had the entire group pose for such a long time taking multiple angle shots or was it same shot multiple times JP?

Have you heard this song “ Vela Vela Vela Vela Ambalikum Vela Pombalakum Vela!!!!” That was the song running in my mind as we were running out to get out of the nagala west. It was getting dark and things were beginning to get really scary. But the team made sure all of them we intact and we all were running along the trail with our Torches in the mouth completely oblivious and closed to anything around us. Just looking doen at our next steps we were progressing through many small rocks crossing streams and jumping stones. Venki constantly telling us come on guys we have to have dinner at dhaba. The chicken motivated all of us especially Jp sir who took off in tremendous speed and made it out in no time. As we almost reached the end the beautiful moonlight and the mountains were bidding bye with tears of fire coming from top hill. As we steeped out and reached the dam there was a feeling of achievement and a sense of accomplishment for all of us to have completed a Moderate Trek as per Vipin but as per Sindhu and Sruthi it was a Difficult “++”. Thank you guys for organizing such an amazing trek and man we all had the best time of our life for sure in this trek. Halo it does not end here!!!! How can we miss the Dhaba Experience??? we all walked into the restaurant waiting to be served actual food and man I was so happy to be amongst other fellow brutal chicken eaters who not just ate chicken but literally ravaged them. KUDOS Buddies!!!!! If you think this was over well not at all... We all have set back to our dens only to recover and be back on the next expedition.

The Emperors Journey Continues!!!!!!!

Write up by Shruti
The way we see it and the way it is - Nagala East to West​

Someone with great insight, lets call him Ela, said that this was a double moderate + trek. I don't know what a double moderate + trek is, honestly, but I think somewhere between hanging on to a vaadi pona branch to keep me from hurtling down the mountain and avoiding the rolling rock that the guy above me loosened, I found out. Good ol' Nagala - home to most of our fresher's treks. These boulders, slyly slippery sometimes, have seen us all tripping and slipping and falling in all comical ways. The trees have laughingly seen us hold on to some branch or the other only to see the 'oh shit' look on our faces as it breaks and we fall awkwardly on each other. The waters probably have the best fun. How many of us have attempted to dive into the water only to hit it with our faces, stomachs and chests (throw in some armpits and I think we get Virapandy's dive). The valley is echoing with laughter, so hard, we hear it all night while we sleep - and we'd laugh along with them, if we weren't so tired inside our sleeping bags.

We began fresh and early at 4 am on saturday morning. As often happens, most of us didn't get much sleep the last night. Packing, partying, praying... each had one's own excuse to get a little shut eye in the van. Quietly we slept for a while until we were crazy with hunger. Some friendly Idli, sambhar and a Labrador named Rose greeted us upon our arrival in the town of Nagalapuram. After we ate (a bit too much) we started on our trek. I won't say much about our Eastern trail... Most of us have already done that trail before. I was a little surprised I wasn't slipping so much on the boulders as last time. Then I realised, its because the boulders are just not slippery at this time of the year. Be honest, how many of you thought you got better?


We moved fast and quietly (well, amost), for it's bee season. Dead-end pool, bee hive, big boulders, small boulders - we stopped at nothing! We reached picnic pool by 1.30 - extremely hungry, strangely sleepy and quite proud of ourselves. Some cooled off in the pool, some took a nap under the trees. A simple but ample meal of rice and various assortments of thokku made its way to our stomachs before Vibin announced that we must, absolutely must, trek to the 50 meters fall. So off we went, caps and shoes and undigested food together, up the fall to investigate the mega source of it all. The sun was on its way down, so the temperature was pleasant. We were energized and perhaps eager, but I think after the 5m fall mark (which someone wrongly pointed out as the 20m fall) we started exchanging puzzled looks with each other. About half an hour later....

Nah, but seriously. One only needed to see the height of the ridge and do some quick math inside our heads. And what do we have imagination for, if not to fill in the missing pieces of reality? We need only think of how beautiful the 50m fall probably looks in its hay-day. Juxtapose it on what you saw, and you discover something interesting - that you want to come back again, to see that fall again. You're saving up the 'wow' for another day, and perhaps Nagala intended that to happen. On our way back, we discovered that some pretty unemployed bees were hovering around our shoes and other belongings. A detour, a lot of thorns, some sliding and slipping later, we recovered our things and trekked back. We made it back to camp just as the sun was setting; enough time to take another dip in the pool and cool off. We didn't waste any time in eating (thanks Ganesh for the biriyani!) and going right to bed. And we slept as the water gushed and the branches giggled. And somewhere deep in the night, we probably laughed a bit too, and then everything fell silent. The next day felt like it was 108 hours long. Scarcely had we woken up, tested to see if our limbs are working and had some tea that we were off, along the Western trail. New to me, and perhaps a few of you. The boulders were bigger, the rocks higher. Our breakfast was a couple of apples along a stream and my stamina was rapidly waning (my 15x2 sets lunges that I did the week before got used up on Day 1). But friendly faces, helping hands, glucose water and the promise of lunch kept me going. We lunched on aval and thokku and water and air and thus, energized, were off again. We climbed up, climbed down, got lost. Relaxed and waited while poor Vibin and Ganesh tried to figure out the route. And off we went again, down what was decidedly an 89 degrees slope. We dodged rocks and branches and our own body weight, silently promising ourselves to work out a little more. Over burnt mountain land we went, kicking up ashy dust and wondering what had happened here. A forest fire, perhaps. And finally, the 3rd pool. Gloriously beautiful. I cannot even explain. Like it was touched by some special magic. Green was greener here. The water so pretty. We just couldn't resist getting in.

Virapandy performed his infamous dive here, along with a few lesser known, but equally interesting dives by others. We were supposed to be there for 20 minutes. We were there for an hour. It was fast becoming dark now, so off we went again and out came our torches. At first we all tripped, but soon learnt how to navigate in the dark. Luckily, we soon reached the known flat trail, along which we walked for what seemed like forever! We exited the mountains. The trek was over. I remember leaving Nagala along this trail. The moon was full, or almost, and the mountains were quietly standing around, guarding the memories we had just left scattered from East to West, along with our blood, sweat, orange peels and apple cores. I was tired like I've never been, or maybe I was sad - I couldn't tell the difference, really. There's something about witnessing beauty when you feel like you're too weak to reach out and touch it. You experience it differently. I think my heart broke a little. But then somebody smiled, and somebody else laughed. And I think we heard it echo behind the mountains. And that's how we left.

Nagala always leaves us with memories of laughter, along with the many discoveries we make, of our relationships with friends, with food, with nature, with our shoes, with those three or four people and things we carry with us every time, that never let us down. But most importantly, of that promise we make to ourselves, to come back and experience it all over again. As a note, this was a beautifully organized trek, as always. All those who wander are not lost, but getting lost is not such a bad thing. If I'm lucky, I might have the privilege to get lost with you guys again, in some future trek. I'm glad I was part of this, and thank you all for including me. A big shout out to the organizers and the volunteers!



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