I have been looking forward to a CTC trek for a long time, and the Theni-Munnar trek was a perfect one for my initiation to the group. Atul and I were a little tense to embark on this trek, since this was listed as a “difficult” one and we didn’t feel physically fit for one. The last trek we had been on was more than a year ago. But the mental motivation to push ourselves was stronger than our physical capacity and we are glad we went ahead with that instinct.
Our bus (a private traveller) set out to Theni from Bangalore on 23rd October at 9pm. We had agreed to meet Arun and team at Theni by 6 am and were very eager to reach there on time to gear up for the trek. But as things generally go, our bus delayed us by a good one hour, and the team from Chennai had reached Theni an hour before us! We felt it unfair to delay a team of 20 members for the sake of 2, so we suggested the team carry on without us. But in a sweet gesture, the entire team decided to wait for us. We reached Theni around 6.30am in the morning and met the entire team at the bus stand. We were then directed to a restaurant where we freshened up, had our breakfast of hot idllis and vadas and were all set to go. We set off on a drive to kurankani village, the start point of our trek which was 20km away from Thenni. We got introduced to the team members- a jolly bunch who were going to be part of this memorable event. With the backdrop of music, Zumba moves of Karthik and the melodious mallu song by “chechi” from god’s own country, we got inducted into the group. The jovial and the supportive ambiance in the bus made us feel welcome and part of a big collective.
Fortunately, we had an accommodation in a dorm at Munnar, and could leave our sleeping bags and excess luggage behind…..something we were going to be grateful for later. We reached kurankani, and set off on our climb with charged determination and excitement. Our first halt came soon enough, at a pleasant stream where we freshened and indulged our self. After a refreshing swim and merry, we set off on the trail again, the trail was close to 12km, gaining an elevation of about 1800mts. Soon after we had begun, we got off the trail into a steep incline. We made our way up for about an hour. This climb was more challenging than we had anticipated. Gaining quick elevation, the tall grass surrounding us and reducing visibility, soft mud beneath, we pushed ourselves seeking the elusive “single tree”. The long steep trail, was punctuated with short breaks and refreshing snacks and meal. We were treated to the day's lunch….Poli!!!! And as we continued to ascend we had a continuous supply of orange and lemon candies to keep our sugar levels high. We climbed through tall shoulder length grass and meandered through lush green forest paths. Eventually we reached the pine tree forest that finally gave way to the tea plantations.
We had arrived! At the world's highest organic tea garden. The evening mists were setting in by the time we reached the peak, and we rushed in to sip the hot steaming cup of fresh organic tea. It was most refreshing. We relaxed and captured the proud moment on various cameras as we waited for the jeep to come get us and take us back to munnar where we were to halt for the night. The jeep came in after sunset, and we had a thrilling ride through the narrow ghat roads in the comfort of darkness. We reached ours dorms, dined and turned in for the night tired and happy.
We started around 7.30 the next morning, and set off to a small hill nearby. All of us set off to climb the hill, in a more relaxed pace this morning, and in no hurry or pressure to reach the top this time. We sauntered around the hill, taking in the breath-taking views, and capturing the tea estates, the mountains, the mist in our memories and cameras. After a leisurely climb [some of us were satisfied with a half way climb], we returned to our jeep and headed to top station our next destination. From here, we were to climb down another 10 kms on a jeep trail. We had a sumptuous lunch and started our climb down top station. As we zig zagged down the mountain we caught glimpses of the Kurankani trail that we had climbed the previous day. We stopped often and with awe to watch our climb and the majesty of the mountains and continued ahead with proud satisfaction. The climb down was fun, and enveloped with beautiful panoramic views. Arun, Karthik, Pallavi and a handful of other members explored a new untraveled route and we all met at the base around 5.30. We had a quick tea and snacks and started back to our respective cities around 6.
We are pleased to have embarked on this trek as our first CTC event, the place, route and views were gorgeous. The company and new set of friends were entertaining and cordial. The organisation, meticulous and well executed. It left with lovely memories, and eagerness to join in on more.