14 February 2007
Meghane trek log - II
11:30 AM : We all started.. but not before taking the vow that "No plastic will be thrown in the forest."
It was instructed to us that the organization we were trekking with would not tolerate people indulging in smoking or having alcoholic drink or non-vegetarian food in the forest or during our stay in villages.
There was a clear-cut instruction to us not to harm any animal in the vicinity, and not to spoil the serenity of villages by making loud noises/playing music or by any other abnormal thing.
It was also communicated that the trek leader would be the first one and the second leader would be the last one to be on the move.
Well..It was all agreed upon and the ascent begun.
Ascending would be an inappropriate word for this peak, I guess. I'd better use the word climbing(!) instead.
Yes, Believe me..The hill was dead steep, damn scary, naturally mystic, heavily gifted with thick trees, wonderfully mangled with the long vines around them. It all seemed so much exciting and inspiring for us.
Western Ghats in Karnataka is the most un-tamed part of the whole of Western Ghats, I think. It has been commercially very much utilized in Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamilnadu. But Karnataka has preserved it as it is. May be sheer negligence of authorities or may be lack of proper planning, whatever the reason is, it, hence, is a heaven for nature enthusiasts from everywhere.
In the pic, the Meghane top looks awesome. Yes, thats the peak I am talking about
The ascent began and everyone started heading up-ward. First few meters were thru a sufficiently enough space(road)...but the road narrowed down as we dented further. That explains that no person used the route for a long time.
The monsoon that ended a few months back had uprooted some huge trees off guard. These trees were lying across our pathway. We had to either climb on fallen trunk of some of them to surpass or had to creep thru the space these left with the land, for we were really unable to get on to them and jump off side, or had to jump across to cross if these were smaller ones. It was really a delightful and debilitating exercise.
As mentioned earlier, road had narrowed down to allow only one foot to be kept ahead, it sometimes became so narrow that, on to our left, was a steep mountain, and to the right, was a steep drop downward..we would have to balance ourselves with the passing trees or small wooden sticks or some one's helping hand... It was taking our breaths away.
In first part of this travelogue I had mentioned that Ganesh is a photography enthusiast. He just continued with his newfound hobby. He took the snaps of every cliff and tree, every dirt and stone. Remember he had to continue with it by balancing himself on to the road, carrying the huge luggage he carried. Others too were taking some snaps, though.
The forest...I must admit that it was really dense, mystic as said earlier. It might be housing some dangerous species of animals and snakes. It certainly housed many colourful flowers and had a distinct odour about it. There were different varieties of fungi that looked like artwork by the creator. Uprooted trees, blunt vines, varieties of orchids, lines of ants spread across, and what not..
Best thing about the forest was the absence of mobile phones, a blessing!!
Second best thing though was no honking, no hurry-ups, no red lights, no policemen...!!
Third best thing was that not many people were seen, literally, we were the only trace of humans in whole of the forest, a true blessing again!!
We could listen to varieties of tunes by formidable birds. These divine tunes turned our attentions from the Herculean climb towards these excitements. It was really getting exciting as the time flew.
Since there were different set of people in the group, (by different set, I mean, people who are on to their first ever trek, people who were recovering from some small illness etc..) it was very difficult to maintain a constant synchronization among all the members in terms of pace. This caused a virtual split in the team in terms of the distance covered. I was with the first set of people on move, with Nayana and Madhu leading, Ravindra, Sandeep, Rajashekhar, Manoj and Subramanya in my league.
Now, how do we know where the others are? Its by screaming out loud "Oh! Hoy! Hoy!!" If we get a response, we'll know that they are right there. And also, the direction of sound will help us identify whether the next team is heading the right way. (This is a common practice in such treks). If we feel they're not on the right path, we again scream out "left thogo" or "right thogo" (Take a right/left) as the situation demanded.
At one point, there was no pathway at all. All we found there was a steep slope with trees on the cover, some big, some small. The slope was so jittery that anyone could fall off any moment. We had to catch hold of a branch of the tree in front of us by hands and then with its help, put a step ahead to reach there. It was such an exhaustive journey that no one could hear the sounds of other people or birds or the wind movement. All one would do then was to concentrate on strategics of how to reach the top.
At this moment, Sandeep, who was carrying an extra luggage in hands, the food packet, found it difficult to trek carrying that. It was decided that he passes it to the one in-front of him, by throwing it, and that person keeps it safe with the balance of the stem he was standing at, and Sandeep marching to that tree to get hold of it. All this exercise needed was Sandeep throwing it properly and the person ahead catching it and keep it there, which could be recursed until the terrain is passed.
I was the person to be catching it. He threw it at me, suddenly I had a slip and couldn't get my hands on to it at right time. So, it fell off guard..since it was a difficult slope, it went on jaggedly down wards with such a pace that no one could ever catch with it. But suddenly it stopped at a tree, Thank God! a tree stopped it. And now it was Sandeep's turn to get down to it and bring it up, or else everyone would have to be starving that afternoon. He finally went down like a flier and got the packet up, with much difficulty.
And then after some more struggle, the difficult terrain was over and we found a feasibly flat piece of land. It was decided that we wait for everyone's arrival there, a blessing in disguise where we could have a quick rest too.
1.00 PM : One-by-one all assembled there. as soon as one arrived, he threw away his luggage and put his back to it, which displayed how much tiresome the journey was.
Meanwhile, Sharat had an ankle twisted while ascending with a heavy baggage. His was the heaviest bag amongst us. Ganesh also had a heavy luggage, to add to it, he had collected that antique looking fungal remains on a piece of forgone branch of a tree. It looked awesome, but at the same time, for a man who was carrying his luggage with breath-out, this must be a commendable thought to have carried it home.
With almost everyone tormented by the hill, this was a welcome halt.
Some suggested we having lunch there itself, but Sampath ruled that out since it would become more strenuous to do the rest of ascending after lunch. And also, the peak seemed un-conquerable so easily. Hence that sounded acceptable and all started again.
As everyone gained some energy, we were up on our heel again. And due to various factors already discussed here, the team again got broken into many small teams. This time, Ravindra, Sandeep and myself accompanying each other was the first team in the trek. Nayana and Madhu staying to give directions to others. They had already instructed us about the route to be taken. Dwarka and Sampath being the second leaders, had to wait for everyone to cross.
As we were on our heels, suddenly Ravindra stopped. He was scratching a wood log, I was surprised and asked him the motive for this act. He didn’t reply, but pointed his support stick to what he saw. Yup. It was a Viper, a small venomous creature that was sleeping behind the log of dead wood on the road. I was taken aback. He said, don’t wake him up, just pass him thru. We tried to push the reptile aside, but since he didn’t care to move a bit, we carefully stepped off side and passed him thru. This made us plan our next steps more careful and guarded.
Now wherever we saw, we could find these vipers. Under the shed leaves, off side of the dead log, or on the branch that we were about to touch. But it was just a part of the trek. So, we moved on, shouting as a siren for others who would pass by.
We three were close to a part of the hill that seemed next only to the Sun. I mean, we thought we were reaching the peak. The path was getting tougher as we climbed higher. A cool place was in the vicinity, as it seemed. We could feel it. And there it was, a small pond-like structure. There was very little water in it though. Place was cool and highly serine. Out of the world!!
Here, we were welcomed by an unusual bird, green necked, orange skinned, small in structure, it was a fantastic watch. The sounds coming thru all directions were brilliant, the ranting of the birds, moaning of the crickets, low train of the flowing wind. It was heavenly refreshment after the absorbing trek up-hill. We were all thrilled. As soon as we reached the place, we decided to stop and wait for others. And then we were on our backs in no time. Sandeep said, "Istotge Benglooralli yavdadroo hotelnalli chicken tintaa iddidre yestu chennagirtittu"(He was depicting the ironies in the world, one place we have all the mortal joys of the world and on the other hand we have a place where the serine joy is only attained after shedding some sweat). We tried catching some sleep in this divine atmosphere, but the adventurer in us was not yet satisfied. We tried hiking to other part of the water body. Hecked somethings that were plying there. Awed at all those we saw. The view itself was real, rare and charming, at least for computer professionals like us, who always live in a virtual world.
2:30 PM : All joined us in this celebration, everyone exhausted and bating for their breath. The joy of taming the shrew was visible on all the faces. First thing one did there was to throw the luggage away and put the back on to the ground. Nayana alerted everyone, and declared to everyone's joy, "we'll have food here!!". The Bread-Jam combo seemed heavenly. There were traces of some animals visiting the place as well. The dung that we found there was identified to be that of a bison, the footprint on the sand was assumed to be that of some deer or something.
After freaking around and some boyish giggles over each other, and resting a while, we thought it was wise to take off before it’s late. Nayana announced that we were to stay at Meghane village for the night and to reach there, is again a horrendous task of another 2 hours down the hill. Usha's shoes were giving away first hint of what was coming ahead. The sole of one of them had opened up. Dwarka did some quick fix for it, and she could and had to manage with it for rest of the day.
4:30 PM : It was another 20 mins trek up-hill. voices of hooters and bats coming from a rear end of the forest was an indication that it was getting late. This time, hike was less troublesome. Everyone almost simultaneously reached the peak. It was a grassland, opened in to from a thick bunch of forest. The grass was dried since rains were stopped long ago. We reached the peak, enjoyed the light Sunrays piercing from the top. This grass pitch made the mountain look like a baldhead over a macho man.
However, view from this grass top was incredibly amazing, whole of Sharavati valley being showed from there. We were just a small point among the whole lot of things that was visible to our bare eyes. Gods must really be crazy for creating these beautiful views to teach us the lessons of life in this cryptic a way.
Shrubs on this grass pitch bore some unimaginably beautiful flowers with magnanimous colours. We were thrilled at the treat that was offered to us by Mother Nature (Prakruti Maate). I suggested we stay back till the Sunset. Nayana refused and said before sunset we must reach the village or else... we understood and reluctantly continued our journey further.
We were awed to see a golden line across the horizons in a far off place. First glance we thought it was Sun rays streaming over a beautiful cloud. But a deep look at it had a different story to tell. The bright golden line was the reflection of Sun's elegant rays over the Arabian sea. It was the sea that was visible. I think sea was at a fair distance from Meghane top. But that was visible to bare eyes in this awe-inspiring manner. It was an amazing sight. We were, but, dumb struck at this wonderful view of nature.
Journey downward was not as eventful as that of the ascent. But we had some breath taking scenes here too, with the valley dangling between our strengths and efforts. The steep downward journey had its share, as the pathway here was terribly small and distinct. Path also covered a set of a "SHOLA", a bit of brownish grassland, a piece of plain land everything. We again "Oye Oye"ed and carried on till some one down there smiled looking at Nayana. Nayana greeted him and said "Anna chenagidira?"(How are you?) That man replied with a smile "Aakulge Kotge soppu kitkondu hogakke bande"(I've come here to collect some leaves to be put as a bed to the cattle). Then I was told we were staying at his house to spend coming night.
I was thrilled to find a village, green areca trees, a rural house and a few traces of men!!!! It seemed ages we were away from them!!
To be continued.....