This was my first trek with CTC and I was really looking forward to go to Nagala. I had always wanted to go on a trek and now I had the perfect opportunity. We started boarding the van by 6 PM at Guindy. I was one the many first trekkers present in the van. It was a somewhat monotonous and tired journey - for me – and we soon filled our hungry stomachs at a restaurant on the way. It was late night by the time we reached base camp and we decided to sleep on a broad ridge on the side of a nearby dam. We immediately put down our bags and started settling down for the night as we were supposed to get up at 5 in the morning. I was awestruck to see the area of the dam. It was humongous with very little water in comparison. None of us could actually rest and we soon had a small bonfire an hour or so before midnight and we stayed up talking, dancing and sharing stories and reasons that made us come to this amazing trek.
We went to sleep underneath a sky full of stars and a bright moon by one o’clock and we were woken up by Arun Prasath Anna at five o’clock or so and we soon started our trek to Nagala East. I heard about the 7 obstacles that we had to conquer from Arun Anna and I was scared, if not anxious. We climbed down the side of the dam and started walking and we were soon accompanied by Tiger (who came with us the entire way – also Tiger was a dog). It was a long trek to the first pool, which was called the Step Falls. We were all overjoyed to see the cool water. I immediately dived into the ice cold water. We inflated tubes for those who didn’t know how to swim. It was really refreshing and we were swimming and diving for a long time.
We had our breakfast - bread and jam - there and Arun Prabhahar Anna told us to get ready. Turns out, we didn’t even come one-fourth of the way. Some of us stayed back as Arun Anna already told us that it would be even more difficult and they were already exhausted while the rest of started again. We all realized that what we had done so far was nothing compared to what we had again. I was exhausted soon after and completely drained even after the two or three occasional breaks we had.
It was hard keeping up but I managed (barely). We walked on the mountainside for what seemed like a long time and we soon started walking down a dried-up stream. It led to another small but somewhat unclean pool which we had to cross to continue the journey. Tiger parted ways with us at this point, much to my dismay.
We were astonished to see a giant pit-like structure which we also had to cross. Seeing no other way, some of us who went ahead waited for the others to come. Thanks to the organisers, we were able to cross the place either by dropping down close to the boulder to one side and proceeding out through a small cave or by walking along a terrifyingly narrow path along the face of another rock to the other side, whichever suited us.
We resumed our journey to the Sliding Pool. This time, we had no other choice but to walk along the rock surface on one the side of the pool to get to the shore. We climbed down the side of it and started getting into the hip high water to pass the bags. We collected and kept the bags to the other side of the pool and started swimming / walking in the water. I came to know why they called it the Sliding Pool. No other way to say but there were slide-like structures covered in moss in the middle of our passage. We walked slowly and carefully, often slipping in the moss. We conquered the last slide-a somewhat steep one- and climbed up a pile of loose rocks to get to the top, where we had our lunch of bolis. We had a quick rest there and carried on with our trek to the Dead End Pool, which is my favourite.
To get to the Dead End Pool, we had to climb or basically slide down a steep side as we were positioned on top of a small cliff. I was already told by Raja Anna (the one who told me to go all the way instead of staying back at the Step Falls) that the water there would be crystal clear that you can see everything in it. He was right. The water, the rocks, the small falls flowing from it all showed the beauty of nature, something that I haven’t witnessed before. Not on the same scale atleast. We filled our water bottles with the clean water and we crossed a large boulder in the path with the help of Arun Anna, Prasanna Anna and Subramani Anna. We relaxed ourselves from the tiring walk by standing near a small falls, flowing with force from in-between two rocks.
We started walking along ridges on the rocks to get to the Dead End Pool. It was larger than I expected but no less magnificent. We all dived into the pool from a rock high above it and started swimming. The inflated tubes were put to use for the who didn’t know swimming and two or three of us started modifying the tubes so as to transport the bags on the water.
We got ready after we had our fill of the pool and resumed the way home. The rest of the path was somewhat the same - walking in the water which kept altering its height every few seconds. Sometimes it was till the hip suddenly it would be till the chest but we soon started walking on the rocks on the side, with Manickam Anna leading us. Five or six of us went ahead and took some rest on one of the long rocks which was so peaceful.
Some of us went ahead and we eventually went away from the original team. We were separated but not lost. Soon, we came in contact with members of CTC on another trek. As I went with the said team along with some of our own members, I don’t precisely know about what happened with the original team. So, please forgive me.
Anyways, after walking for a long time, we were reunited with the team that stayed behind at the Step Falls. It was a really long walk this time and we joined with another CTC group, who were headed the same way. We walked along narrow pathways, up and down mountainsides and we finally took rest for a long time, and the pain in my calves gradually started to subside, while we all drank lemon juice and had fun.
We walked through the dam and finally reached the base. We waited for the original team to reach and it was night by the time we took the photos and bid goodbye to those went home directly. Some of us boarded the van while the rest of them came by car. Late night, with an annoying and painful rumbling in my stomach, I was eagerly looking forward to the dinner that will put an end to this hunger. We had our dinner in the same restaurant and we said our final goodbyes to those who went by car and we started our long journey home. It was 11 when we reached Guindy. My parents and I said farewell to all our friends and team members in the van, promising to see them again in the next event, before taking that cab ride home.
I would like to thank the organisers for making this event possible and for encouraging me to go on and I also thank the photographers for capturing the amazing moments of my first trek and many other’s.
Write up by Jayasruthi
This was my first trek with CTC, and I was really looking forward to it. Finally, March 19th came, and we assembled in CMBT at6 o’ clock, where we got acquainted with each other while waiting for our transport. We then boarded a minivan and started to Nagalapuram. Although the van was crowded we enjoyed travelling sitting on the steps, with the wind blowing in our face. It was more opportunity to interact with new people, and we had fun talking with them throughout the journey. I was really awed by Elakkiya, who's a biker and inspired me to learn biking.
We then halted for dinner, where some of us ate home food prepared by Tharani. We reached Nagala at 10.30, where we went and set up camp on the top of the dam there. We lit a warm campfire for the cold night, and a formal round of introduction happened. We came to know a lot about other activities of CTC, especially Ainthinai, which was explained by Abirami, an Ainthinai core member.
After this, there were several fun stories, around the campfire, and around2 o’ clockwe reluctantly retired to sleep. It was a great experience sleeping under the stars, with the gentle breeze from the dam.
The next day dawned bright and clear with the sweet chirping of birds. After refreshing ourselves and changing into our trekking outfits we embarked on the trek at around7 o’ clock. Manick took the lead with Praveen following behind. Initially the climb vas very steep and we, as newbies to trekking, found it a bit hard to climb. But seeing the Magic pool and Sliding pool gave us new vigor and after a short distance of hard climbing we reached the step falls at around10 o’ clock. Here we had ultimate fun, playing in the pool, diving, learning swimming and of course eating breakfast (soft white bread and tasty sweet jam)! After being fed and watered, many of us were completely energized and ready to proceed further. But very few decided to stay back, gain more fitness and come for the next trek with greater stamina. After the step falls, most of our journey was through the stream. We had a lot of fun because it wasn’t up hill; it was more of a game, hopping from boulder to boulder. Along the way, we had several hurdles. The first was a deep cleft through which we had to climb down.
Manick guided a few of us through bare rock with just enough space for one foot. It was a thrilling experience crossing that stretch. Others who preferred climbing down were helped by Arun and Praveen. The next hurdles involved climbing using just tree roots for support and sliding down a stream to reach a deep pool. We formed a human chain to pass the bags to the other side. There was a steep rock, where we literally had to climb down standing on one of the organizers’ shoulders. We ate a quick lunch (sweet polis) sitting on the roots of the forest trees. We took power naps, lying down on the warm rocks near the stream or on the roots of the forest trees. I could only sigh at the silent beauty and surrealness of those picture perfect spots. Finally, we reached the famous Dead End pool, the pitstop. It was literally a dead end,endWe we had to dive into the pool and we had epic fun doing that. I was exhilarated to learn how to float like a log, I’ll never forget that.
We made ferry with sticks and shoe laces and used the swimming tubes to take the bags across. After everyone was rested, we proceeded on our return journey. We met another CTC group along the way and devoured their Biryani and curd rice right out of the pot. It tasted awesome even though it was burnt. Slowly but surely we came back to the dam wall, and lay down exhausted but extremely proud of ourselves. After everyone had reached , we regrouped, took one last photo, and said our goodbyes and see you agains, and started back home. It was a wonderful experience, living in the forest amidst nature and being away from the chaos of modern civilization. I would especially like to thank Praveen, Manick, Arun and Arun for being the sweetest organizers ever. They made sure every single person was comfortable and personally helped everyone to complete the trek successfully!