Monday, 28 March 2011

“Re-union its reunion – digging the memories of a wonderful past”

Life has never been the same for all of us it was school first, then college, courts, office etc, etc., but that child heart always throng to meet the loved ones again and again, precisely for that reason we pledged to ourselves “we are parting to meet again” – and the time came to meet and share our life post our college life with our soul mates.

Now the question of “what if’s” struck my mind. 

What if 15 adventurous souls meet up? What if 8 years bond of friendship meet up? What if they meet up after 3 years of gap? What if the to be future legal pundits meet up? What if they meet inside thick jungles, amidst wild life and wild streams?

Read more to get the answers to all the “What if’s”.

The 30 member initial crowd very soon narrowed down to 15 brave souls after hearing to the myths and the mysteries about this place. Undeterred by any myths or mysteries 15 brave souls headed to Nagalapuram on 18.12.2010 early morning to unleash themselves which in turn made a mark and created history.

The reunion was perfectly divided to suit the survivors and the predators. 6 survivors wanted to return back on the same day and 9 predators dreamt to tent and sleep on top of the mountain.

It was first the hidden treasure which welcomed us like pongal over flowing from the pot; nobody had any second thoughts to drench themselves with some Michael Phelps diving inside and exhibiting their almost forgotten stunts.

The daring souls soon became caring souls with each other enquiring about the other’s well being and what they are upto in these years. That’s how flied off the one hour trek in two minutes time passing across the banks of the village dam and trekking along an old jeep trail.
Soon we reached the gigantic trees and started clicking pic’s to hold it for a life time. 
Soon to the tiring souls came the butterfly stream with crystal clear water which made us to dip inside and quench our thirst and gave an opportunity to chit chat like the way we used to do in our classroom.

After delight in the butterfly stream was the real task of hopping in the boulders, climbing small hill by holding the roots and branches of trees and sliding in the slippery soil. Not many would have done this before but still the heart was filled with thrill and happiness and the heart was pounding for the next surprise.

With the oldies leaking the secret about the crystal clear water pool and waterfalls inside the forest the entire group became energetic and started moving at a great pace.

Delight is not the word to describe the beauty of that crystal clear pool with a waterfall filing it up. As soon as the group saw this wonderful pool few jumped inside unmindful of anything while the others reserving for their turn to come up. Beating all the purest forms of water the stream water inside the forest was rejenuvating and refreshing. People galloped the water as if they are not gonna drink water any more.

After jumping, swimming, ferrying and taking a dip inside the natural water pool we all set to prepare our tea to refresh ourselves. Guys who ordered for tea at home and at restaurants started collecting fire wood and in no time created fire and with 30 minutes effort yummy tea was ready to refresh all the chilled body and tired nerves. 

Then came the difficult moment were 6 survivors parted to the car with a sense of accomplishment and full of happiness. 9 predators then decided to trek ahead and reach the highest point in the mountain to set their camp there and stay overnight. The climb was a real challenge to few of us but never deterred the predators. At 6 in the evening we reached the camp site and set our camp and collected wood to prepare camp fire and dinner.

Hot soup came as nectar from the chill weather followed by few servings of maggi with project team in its full swing and the night which followed was something which none of the predators will ever forget in their life time 9 people inside one tent surrounded by rocky mountain, stream, water pool and pale white moon. 

Woke up in the nature’s lap to see the forest at its peak beauty, after preparing and having our breakfast all the predators started trekking down and with heavy heart leaving thrilling memories all the predators came out of the forest at 12 noon.

“If’s and But’s’” were shunned down by the 15 survivors who created history by celebrating their reunion in an unforgettable manner.

Kudoos survivors and predators for being part of an historical event which was a milestone in the history of any “Alumni Event”. Standing class apart from the rest of the world is the School of Excellence in Law, Chennai batch of 2002-2007. 

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Ombattu Gudde a trekker’s paradise

Certainly only to read, dream and wonder for a weak body, mind and soul and never to dare trying, these true stories are only meant to record an adventurous history. This was a three day mission starting from 18.2.2011 to 21.02.2011.

There was soo much myths and mysteries about Ombattu Gudde (OG) treks over flowing in the net and by word of mouth and there is never a better experience than a personal, first-hand experience. OG is bounded by Shiradi Srisla Reserve Forest, Kabinale Reserve Forest and Balur Reserve Forest located in Karnataka and popularly referred as “trekkers delight

We were celebrating Chennai Trekking Club (CTC) third b’day in a fashion and style known only to CTCians. This trek had all the varieties which a true trekker would look for in a trek, to be preserved and portrayed in one’s mind, heart and soul ranging from steep climb, huge boulder hoping, rappelling, rescue etc, etc.

The trek started initially with 37 trekkers joining from various parts of the country. With 23 of them starting from Chennai and 14 other joining us in Bangalore to trek the OG peaks from 18th to 21st February, 2011. The co-passengers of Lalbagh Express were initially taken by surprise after seeing our trekking bags and our weird sleeping mats and a white man (Peter) jumping up and down with full of energy and they finally learnt that these guys are trekkers and going to trek somewhere in the western ghats.

DAY 1 - The day of hiking in the steep mountains and camping in between big boulders:

We reached Gundya check post which is located in the NH 27 heading towards Mangalore at around 5.30 a.m and quickly had a power nap in the chilling morning weather. The trek started with a steep climb which never got over till the mid of the day. We hiked, hiked and hiked from 200 mts to 1200 mts from sea level till we reached the top of a bald peak which offered some spectacular views of the valley below. One of the co-trekker was unable to climb up further and therefore we had to send him back and soon heard from him that he safely existed.

The sweating soul and the paining body was rewarded with some of the most stunning breath taking views which nature had to offer to us. There were steeps wherein we were forced to climb holding the roots of the trees, grasses. 

To our surprise we saw the carcass of a wild boar which was torn into pieces and my guess was could be the hand work of a group of wild dogs. 
The most challenging aspect of the trek was the sunny weather with no water resource on top of the mountain. Slowly we started consuming all the water we had and very soon almost all of us ran out of water. Hot weather, no water and wherever we could turn there were only peaks and we were left in a very challenging situation. Our hunt for water left no stone unturned and we started descending towards a dry, steep stream almost 70 degrees inclined. The best part was we saw a beautiful cliff and had some breath taking views from that cliff.

Hunting for water and our camp site we got unintentionally split into four groups and un-fortunately two groups took a wrong dry stream and started declining parallelly. After climbing down the steep boulders we found water dropping in between rocks and almost all fought like monkeys for few drops of water and quenched their thirst. Fortunately, in few hours three groups got reunited and unluckily we lost the fourth group consisting of 5 trekkers. 

After a thorough stint of sliding, rappelling and rolling on the mountains with innumerable cuts, bruises and cramps we were just able to reach an altitude of about 800 mts which was way ahead from our camp site and the main stream which was located at 200 mts altitude.

Pitch darkness covered the entire thick forest and started threatening us with weird noises and loads of insects. We made a camp fire and prepared soup and noodles for dinner wherein we received a SMS from one of the lost soul that we five are staying together and one of us have got injured badly, in the intermittent very bad mobile signal. This night was a very long night since we did not have a proper camp site and lying down in slippery, sloppy rocks which did not permit us to have a good sleep despite our tiredness.

 DAY 2 – The day of sliding rocky stream and failing rescue attempts:

The day started with aching body and a target of climbing down the never ending rocky mountain and finding our camp site. We climbed down through one of the densest forest and huge rocks which took us very long time to descend we cut through huge trees which were almost touching the sky and beautiful rock formations. Trekking down the stream got widened up and the water flow started increasing and finally we reached a beautiful water fall where we took bath after two days of sweating and bruising trek. 

After refreshing ourselves near the water fall we (23 trekkers) started our never ending rock sliding in search of our camp site and finally we reached the main river in the afternoon and set our camp over there and started waiting for the rest of the groups to come. Even after 3 hours we could not see any sign of the other trekkers reaching the camp site and we went in search for them and soon learnt that one group (8 trekkers) were preparing dry-fish and were having near a water fall soon they also joined us. We were now 31 with 5 trekkers stranded somewhere inside the thick forest and we could able to trace out their whereabouts.

In the evening one group went in reach for the stranded trekkers and came back in vain since they were not able to find them and another group went to the nearby village and brought some eggs, fish and rice and we had a yummy dinner along the beautiful river bed near our camp fire. But still we were worried that we could not find out our stranded trekkers and were worried about their whereabouts. 

Nevertheless it was an amazing camp site sleeping on the laps of a broad river underneath the glittering stars and chilling weather this is what may be called as “elixir of life”. 

DAY 3 – The day of “Rescue, first aid and rejoicing

As planned the previous day we all got up at 5.30 a.m to find the stranded trekkers. The rescue team consisted of 11 volunteers headed towards the rocky mountain and started looking for them and we started moving a great pace and after 1.30 hrs of climbing up the mountain the stranded trekkers heard our whistle sound and started shouting.

It was that moment which none of the stranded trekkers would ever forget in their life time we met them after almost 46 hours of gap and we could see the re-birth in their eyes, soon we learnt that Rajiv got dislocated his ankle and was unable to move anymore forward we quickly rolled a grip bandage and gave him the required first aid and provided some refreshments to him and also to the group.

Soon we found a very old jeep track and decided to take it to reach the base of the mountain. Rajiv was unable to move his body because of the pain in his ankle, we decided to carry him on our shoulders and slowly we took him to the camp site. Credit goes to the volunteers for carrying Rajiv safe to the camp site.
It was now almost 11.00 a.m and we had our bus at 2.30 p.m to catch and we need to trek 6 kms to hit the bus stop. Quickly, we prepared a stretcher got hold of two big and strong sticks and few small sticks running across those big sticks and a sleeping mat on top of it. A perfect stretcher was ready to carry Rajiv out of the forest and we started carrying him on rotation basis since it was hurting and causing pain on our shoulders. Kudoos to all the guys who took this paining task of carrying him back safe. 

Rajiv was given a once in a life time opportunity of being carried in a stretcher and the other trekkers dancing, beating drums and signing in front of him. This perfectly portrays the fact that “OG” is a deadly place to trek and one needs to have excellent fitness level to survive in these forests, these treks are certainly only  to read, dream and wonder for a weak mind, body and soul and never dare trying it in their lifetime. 

This trek made to realize that this life is worth living and brought me very close to nature. Taught me how to care for a fellow human being and happily live in an environment filled with joy and blissfulness, overall truly it was a “once in a life time experience”. 

Happy Trekking...

Friday, 25 March 2011

Face to face encounter with a sloth bear in Venkateswara Reserved Forest

Trekkers always throng to spot wild animals deep inside forest and not all get an opportunity to spot one and that to at an attacking range of 5 feet distance. It happened with me when I went on my 3 days trekking mission to Venkateswara reserved forest situated in Andhra Pradesh.

Day 1 of the trek i.e. on 31.12.2010 along with Chennai Trekking Club (CTC). We were climbing down a hill inside thick forest and were heading to a stream which was 50 meters below. Gowri Shankar was leading the team with a help of a GPS and I was closely following him and next to me was Gurva a guy from Bangalore and there was a solid distance between us and the rest of the gang. We went near a hole in the mountain and saw the sand very freshly dug and thought it was dug either by a wild boar or some other wild animal. 

Gowri first peeped inside and then I followed him. Gurva looking at us was also eager to peep inside and soon he also peeped inside the big hole of the mountain. Initially, there came a heavy roar from the hole and Gowri said it could be the sound of a wild boar. We got scared to death and did not know what to do at that moment.

Gurva again peeped inside the hole and a full grown ugly sloth bear showed its scary face to us and this time with a much louder roar making the mountains to tremble. All three of us were panic stricken and had no clue what to do. Within seconds the black sloth bear came roaring outside the hole and vanished inside the thick jungles. The rest of the fellow trekkers were watching this whole episode to unfold from the top of the mountain and they were fear stricken for a long time. 

This was my first face to face encounter with a wild sloth bear in its own territory, although sloth bears are known for their un-provocative attacks we were lucky enough to escape unharmed. 

Happy trekking

Durai Murugan