Trek to Heaven – Venkatagiri Hills 22-23rd Aug, 2015
This was not yet another regular CTC Treks, myself having done some CTC treks in past will definitely say this was one helluva rare fun treks. First of all I would like to say thanks to organizers (Arun, Masu), volunteers (Vel, Manoj, Abdul, Prakash) and all those helping hands and fellow trekkers.
Venkatagiri hills lies in the Venkateshwara National Park, near Venkatagiri town, Nellore district, AP. It has a fort built on top by robbers apparently: P to which people trek.
This trek was rare because many interesting things happened on this trek which inspired me to write this article.
Getting Permission for a rare trek
This trek was off limits and we had to get permission from local DFO to enter the forest. Masu had to wait in DFO’s office & police station for 6-7hrs holding everyone’s ID photocopies. So I believe we must be lucky to be part of such a rare trek.
Helping School kids
This time we not only gathered to enjoy the trek but also made sure that we gave something back to the society. We bought school bags and stationary and gave it to the local kids in school. Smiles on their faces was heart warming. We also enjoyed this small give back gesture that we did, kind of brought in a good twist to the trek agenda. I believe giving back to locals should happen more often in organized treks,it kind of fulfills a part of responsibly enjoying nature.
Climbing a 90 degree wall to heaven
We started our trek around 9:00 AM after grazing through the valley we reached the base of the hill. Then we realized when Arun told that our destination is at the top of a seemingly impossible to climb 90 degree wall on top part of the hills. How we are going to achieve this kept me on my toes all along the trek. I believe every trek has 5 stages and this applies to this trek also 1.) Enthu phase, where all trekkers are beaming with energy and high hopes of completing the trek. We talked, tried to know the fellow trekkers who they are. This is where people realize they are doing trek with like-minded people 2.) How far Phase - ‘How far it is’ was the most used phrase after the hot idili’s did their job and people were getting hungry and water became a scarce resource. Trekkers started asking how far it is to rest point, how far it is to lunch point, how far it is until something comes up other than jungle. And we see our motivating organizers saying ‘just 5 min we are there!!’ 3.) Last leg phase - We finally reached to base of the wall where we had lunch and a power nap before we started to assault the 90 degree wall. Zig Zag stairs like formation led to the top of the wall and one needs to be careful and not have a fear of height to do this task. As and when we gained elevation the view of surrounding valley became more breathtaking which took away all the fatigue. We reached to the top by 4:00 PM for an ever inspiring, mind blowing, burn in memory view. And then the water hunt began !!
Surviving a torrential rain
4.) Camping phase - As the sun went down, there came along the heavy downpour. Since we didn't have tents we had to improvise with the tarpaulins that we carried. Entire trek gang got covered inside 2 tarps and then the fun began. Heavy rain on top of tarps and fast blowing winds made the tarps rattle like hell, it was a like a thrill ride in one of the theme parks. Food, PJs and someone snoring like a snake :P inside the tent made it a much more enjoyable evening.
Sleeping over a gusting cliff wind
Well there is nothing much to do on top of the hill after sun sets, so we started to settle down. The rattling sound of tarps made it impossible to sleep. No sleep and getting bored some of us decided to get out of tarps and started chit chatting. Surprisingly we had got a fire cracker which we burst on top of the hill !!.Crackers on top of a hill I mean come-on nothing could beat that. That’s how a long sleepless night went on.
A rare 950m top view and sunrise
Everyone tired of pretending to sleep was eagerly waiting for sun to rise. The gang woke up to a chilly windy morning looking towards east for sun to rise. Early morning sunrises on top of a cliff will never fall short in amazing you. The entire valley was lit with warm mild sunlight.Perfectly suited for the moment, we started the photo sessions, group pics and solo pics came pouring in.
Losing appetite for poli
5.) Climb down phase - Jumping around for pics made us very hungry and the heavy winds started to get on to us. Its breakfast time, means we have to eat poli again!!, after eating poli for the nth time in lunch, dinner, and all along the way, people had poli’s of their lifetime. We started descent, we took a slightly less difficult route downhill. On the way we had intro sessions where those gaps got closed, and everyone knew eachother very well by then. The memorable journey was coming to an end slowly as we climbed down. The trek had bought strangers together made them into friends.
Blasting hot food post trek
After coming back to civilization tired and sweaty we entered a farm field where water fountain was there. Ahh!! Nothing is better than splashing water on body after a tiring trek. We enjoyed like kids in front of water fountain let all our tiredness wash away. Adding to the sweet pleasure of small things, we arrived at the starting point village where a hot homely meal was getting ready. The very idea of having a good hot meal right after descent made our mouth water. We had an Andhra style spicy chicken curry, sambhar, rasam, potato side dish which just rejuvenated out taste buds and kicked us back to civilization. That’s how we ended our 2 day once in a lifetime experience trek. I could have asked for nothing more to a well spent weekend.
Got clicked in police station
The happy ending - The journey back home begins. We boarded the bus and started back to Chennai. On the way we had to collect back our id cards which was given for permission in police station. Well our police officers are not used to trekkers going to a fort built by robbers, couldn’t digest this fact and called everyone inside the police station and started interrogating. Well it was funny how the interrogation went, our fellow trekkers instead of putting up a serious face in station started giggling :P. Officer couldn’t wrap his head on the fact that we went trekking and started asking ‘enduku ? enduku ?‘ (what ? in telugu), somehow we dodged that bullet but as a safety measure !! Officer took a pic of the entire gang. We got our id cards and left. We reached Chennai by around 10:30 PM and said bid adieu to everyone in hopes to see them again in future treks.
Among all these the most common thing that I find in all CTC treks is the energy for adventure, bonding between strangers, fun all throughout the treks, friendships that form and memories that remain forever.
Each one of the treks in CTC is a memorable experience and this trek was the best among them.