20th October 2017 and as I climbed berth number 8 in the coach AB1 of Bangalore bound train, I asked Vivek his choice and he preferred berth number 31. As soon as I lay down my whole body was rejoicing at the though of the soft cushion underneath and the challenging two days we had prior. I think this is one of the best highlights of my life and from past one year I had no opportunity to go out and experience adventure.
What did we experience? We trekked to Kumara Parvata which stands at 1712 metres above sea level in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. It is at the border of Dakshina Kannada and Coorg districts, also located amidst the Sanctum Sanctorum of Kukke Subramanya. This is some basic facts for you and when Vivek mentioned about him having an idea of trekking to the spot initially, I nurtured the thought of how beautiful it would be to scale a mountain and what great effort it would require from me to climb.
I have my answers well scripted now, I have achieved a great moment which is going to stay a long time to come and I punched my fist and clapped hands in joy when I reached the peak. It’s a challenge which was well deserved accomplishment and I believe comes to the people who are fear less.
19th October, Morning 5:50 am we reached Kukke Subramanya railway station and seated ourselves in a bus to the temple. We checked into hotel and dumped our things which were not necessary for the trek, had a quick breakfast, loaded with ample of water scouted the place for the entrance of the mountain. After walking around a kilometre or odd from the main temple area we reached the wildlife sanctuary and started our trek. The first look at the start I must say scared me a bit and I was apprehensive of going in, a passerby who saw us starting cautioned about an elephant roaming in the wild and this definitely put me on my nerves. You never want to run into an elephant and that too in a wild forest, however put the apprehensions aside and started to walk. What a life changing experience and amazing walk it turned out to be.
Every step was a fantasy and as I realised what challenges lay ahead, I said to myself one step at a time. I saw Vivek had great amount of energy and was the driving force for my trek, I thought if he could I should and no matter if he is 10 years younger to me. He would wait when I would slow down and I would drink water to regain my composure. We cut deep into the forest, climbed up hill and went down the paths that was full of wet slippery clay and the roots that lay from ages. We had our experience with the leeches who came and stuck onto our ankles, feet and our legs, they had their source of nourishment until we realised.
I wondered and my imaginations were running wild, where was the top? and how long it would take for us to reach the base camp. We had started to trek at around 7:45 am and with no GPS. We followed only the trails, we met few passionate trekkers on the way who joined but they did walk ahead of us and we were left to find the right path. We took our time but did not lose the direction, we were going right into the canopy and gaining altitudes. At around 11:00 am the sun rays pierced through the forest cover on us and we came out into the grand opening. We saw the mountains ahead of us and saw the base camp, we met a noble man and his home is Bhattramane. I already had my share of heavy breaths and was very tired, we were served with the best morsels of rice to this day and we ate greedily to our hunger with tangy pickles and the sour buttermilk.
As we finished our lunch, we were joined by ten more passionate guys who planned their trek and the boys were from their final years of Engineering. I was a witness to some tremendous amounts of energy in them, We got introduced and spoke about our plans to hit the peak with them next morning as there were a few experienced guys who had done the trail previously and we felt comfortable to be with them. After the chat I snored a while and recharged myself, once awake we had a small walk to the base camp where the tents were pegged, we went and scaled the place, we saw the mountains we had to scale the next day. I was spellbound, I questioned myself whether there is a need for me to do it? whether I would be able to do it? I could see small specks moving on the greens far away who were trekkers. I breathed in and said to myself I will scale for down the years I will say I was here, as we sat at the viewpoint we met another lone gunner Tejas and we exchanged ideas on trekking, he provided us with valuable tips which were very informative for us.
The evening tea from Mr Bhattru was a delight and turbo charged were us in itself and as we also understood his purpose of being there on the top was like an oasis in the desert. Believe me when I say this, this man is a messiah and the gods are here when I say this as this trek would be incomplete without the resources here. For the trekkers who visit and find food here, the water that you drink from the running stream is pure nectar. As the evening slowly started to sink in, the clouds gathered and it started to rain heavily, full of thunder this was the last thing which I hoped would not ruin our aspirations the next day. We had a hearty dinner and I will never forget the home-made pickles, we slept like true nomads laughing me hearties before with our companions. Thoughts accumulated overnight to wake up early and start with much-needed energy.
We woke up at 4:45 am next and finished the morning activities, at the base camp we met our friends and took the first few steps towards forest office at around 6:00 am. The officer took our details and collected a nominal trek amount of INR 200/= each, also we h gave him our address and contact details. Doing that all of us were pumped up and when I saw the mind-blowing view in front of us, one question remained as if the mountains were asking “CAN YOU TAME US”? I replied with much ado “with your permission ye mighty, allow me to walk on your trails and let me be one with you today”.
In the next one hour we climbed slowly and kept the pace with the group, Vivek was ahead of me and I was the tail of pack. I am a slow bird who takes time to reach the summit, the enthusiasm of the young boys kept me on and Vivek always waited for me until I covered the distance. We would take small sips of water here and there, regain our momentum and move one. At around 7:30 am we reached Kallu Mantapa ( Stone Platform), we gave enough break until all the guys gathered and had some chocolate bars and biscuits to eat to revitalize. We started again at 8:00 am and kept walking and walking, the trail went up and down. Sometimes steep up and at times way too down, sometimes steering out with steep drops, it was also flat and then we gained a lot of altitude also. We cut across mountains and then at one moment we matched the flight of the birds, we were so high and could see from the distance the trail where we had started. Everything looked so miniscule and it was only me and Vivek now trekking as the boys moved ahead of us but we could still hear their voices whenever we let a shout out as that was the way we made ourselves sure of being on the right way.
We were at great heights and we saw the clouds moving in and within no time the mists gathered around us – it was so magical, I wanted to show this to my family and let them know what we experienced. We walked and then suddenly descended into a green canopy of forest which smelt of the moss and the raw timber, I am proud my place is so beautiful. We walked under the canopy of green forests with the streams running beside with gurgling waters of joy and we drank that sweet water like the most essential need of our lives. We walked to the end of forest with snails walking beside us and the lovely audio that nature was offering. We reached the end of forest and the boys were not to be seen, we saw the stream of water running down from the rocks and we looked at each other as we found the trail ended abruptly there.
We then climbed up the rocks and reached on top to be clueless, we walked left and right and found no way ahead. We called out to our friends and thought they would respond, but they could not hear us. We stayed there for a good twenty minutes checking and exploring for a small trail or opening, finally vivek slowly crawled beside the stream and squeezed himself under the green shrubs. I followed him slowly and then we came into an opening of a big rock and saw no one there. We were a bit disappointed and Vivek said lets head back, I told as we are here lets walk till the summit and head back.
As I saw a flag swaying in the breeze we reached and Vivek smiled, that was the peak. Yes my joy knew no bounds I exclaimed, shouted in excitement, clapped my hands for good few minutes, shook hands with Vivek and then we heard the boys call us. There they were behind the green cover taking snaps, someone thought I would not make it. I am so glad to change their views and most of all what I achieved is something that will remain in my heart for a long time to come. We exchanged pleasantries and took pictures, the boys took another route to head back and we took the same.
On the way back we dreamt of the lunch we could have and all the wonderful food that’s actually available in the universe. We reached base camp at 2:15 pm, had lunch at bhattramane. We thanked Mr Bhattru and he charged us very nominally, bid good-bye to him and then started to descend again. We reached the roads and out of forest at 6:15pm in the evening, we reached our hotel to get fresh. A quick visit to the temple and then the train chugged slowly into the Kengeri station. All this while I lay disconnected from the network and I loved every bit of it, I thanked Vivek for bringing this up and now I will look forward to the next.
Mountains calling man, Heard it! Been there! Done it!
PS: We also saw a champion stray dog who walks with the trekkers all the way up and down the entire trail absolutely charging only love and compassion. For the whole two days within a span of 12 hours she was up the peak twice, here is her for you