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Monday, October 25, 2010

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There is/was so much talk about Ombattu Gudda in the trekking community: its very tough, so many people have got lost conquering it etc., etc., that interested me. It was in January 2007, during Green Route Trek – Sakleshpur, that we heard about Ombattu Gudda. The talk at that time was the finding of three human bodies/skeleton, on the DSC04725-1banks of Kempu Hole river. Naturally everyone thought that they had died conquering the Green Route as we have to cross Kempu Hole in one of the trails. But it turned out that they were into Ombattu Gudda range, that too during Monsoon. Three years on, with all the modern maps, devices, it has become easier to conquer these trails. But still one has to do it right!!!
Now Arun gave us that break. Due to some reason, the initial plan by Bangalore ASCENDers (BASC) got postponed to 23rd October weekend which was ideal for us. And the monsoon was still active in that region, which is a bit unusual. After all the usual emails, purchasing of food, all of us met in Majestic. We were seven of us, Arun MS and MB, Conrad, Krishna Murthy, Rakshith, Me and Suman. The entire group was big 23 in size, managed by Mudassar, the founder of BASC.

Saturday, 23rd October, 2010
It was 5 in the morning when we reached Gundya check-post. We had tea in one of the petty shops, which was horrible to say the leastDSC04752-1. But everyone needed that. Then we started walking on the highway;NH-48 till we had crossed a bridge (On Kempu Hole), to reach the jeep track. Now we got to know why we did not get sleep in the bus as we had a glimpse of the highway, after crores of rupees spent on it to get it repaired, the condition was pathetic. I pity the drivers of heavy vehicles. There was a small house at the start of the jeep track, and we decided to wait there till sunrise. In the meanwhile everyone were busy getting ready, with some repellents for the leeches viz. Zandu Balm (which never worked on l eeches), Tobacco Powder, Salt, Lemon, etc., etc., I decided to do the trek in Sandals. After the makeup to our legs, we had a brief intro session, and by this time it was already 7. I opted to be the “sweeper” of the group, so that no one was left behind, I was given one Walkie-Talkie to communicate with the lead.
The jeep track was straightforward, and within 15min, Arun, MB that is, and me stopped for ablutions. Here we took a long break and the main group went way aheaDSC04760-1d. They kept pinging us on the Walkie-Talkie telling us to keep to the jeep track. At one place there was an Y fork and as luck would have it we took the wrong way which went directly to a local’s house. Luckily they guided us. After 15min for ablutions and 15min searching the path, we were on right track. The main group kept pinging us on our whereabouts. After some 45min of separation, we joined the main group. During the course we had crossed many streams. After sometime we hit a road block. There was one more Y fork, one led to a dead end and other ended up on the banks of Kabbinale River, which was impossible to cross. It was time to get the GPS out. I switched on my N900, after 5min it gave us the coordinates. This with analyzing the Survey of India maps, told us, the Jeep track ended here and we had to make our own way, along the river till we encounter a split in the Kabbinale River. Initially we were on the path where a stream would have flown during peak monsoon. But after sometime we were on a clear man made track. After an hours trek we reached a spot where we had to cross the Kabbinale River. We decided to have breakfast here. Bread and Jam was on the menu. After a quiDSC04764-1ck bite, some of us decided to take a dip . The water here was calm and one could even swim. Then it was river crossing time. It was pretty straightforward. Nobody had any hiccups in crossing.
After a while, the forest began to thicken, and we were lagging behind. We spotted a small snake, supposed to be a Viper. It was a tough and tiring since we had to make our own trails. Mudassar was leading the pack. Few t imes we hit a dead end. Each time Mudassar, sometimes assisted by Ashish, were scouring through the dense vegetation to find a trail, be it an animal one or the one made by the flow of water. At around 4 in the afternoon, we hit one more roadblock with many of us lagging behind. This time Mudassar alone went in search of the trail. In the mean time all of had assembled at the bank of the Kabbinale River eagerly waiting for some good news from Mudassar about our heading. He took more than 30min to get back, that too with a bad news. We were 2 hours behind schedule. We had to reach an Island where the conditions were ideal for camping. But that is out of sight for us now. The only option was to trek for 15 more minutes, to find a inclined rock face, wDSCF6669-1hich would be our camping place. When we reached the spot it was around 5 in the evening. My god we had to spend clos e to 12 hours on that inclined rock face. After the some soup and MTR ready to eat for dinner, we prepared for the night ahead. Each one of us pretended we had the best place on the inclined surface, but we didn’t. Each one struggled the entire night. I remember Arun and Suman getting up in the middle of the night and started chatting. I myself woke up several times hoping that it wouldn’t rain or the level of water would rise.

Sunday, 24th October, 2010
We woke up at around 6 in the morning relieved that the ordeal is over. But we still had to reach to the top and we didn’t know that we would be successful in that. We started at around 7AM, again along the river, led by Mudassar. After a couple of hours walk, here we were again, having to cross a river. Here we decided to have breakfast, in our case maggi cup noodles, which was way too littlOmbattu Gudda 127-1e in quantity. As usual people in the group were carrying excess and were kind enough to share with us. It was chapati with pickles and “chutney pudi”. Ill have to thank Harish Malleshappa and one more guy (Sorry forgot his name) for sharing the extra food they had got. Time to cross the river!!! At first it looked easy but it wasn’t. After a few initial trials which indicated the depth was way too risky to cross, we decided to use the ropes, build a human chain, pass on our luggage and finally we ourselves would cross. It took us an hour and a half for the entire ordeal. But there were no hiccups. After all this, we realized that we were on the wrong trail and we had to cross back. This was after Mudassar, Harish and Ashish, who went in search of the trail, realized that we should not have crossed the river. Not again!!! But we had to and after 45 minutes, we again crossed the river. This time it was relatively easy though. On the same bank we were, where we had our breakfast and it was time for searching th e trail once again. And we got it, this time though, we had to do ~70deg ascent to get on top of a ridge. Slowly and steadily everyone made it. And after an DSCF6798hours walk on the ridge, we reached the grasslands. This was a great relief, as we were in the final stages. After a couple of hours climb we reached the top, where we had a sumptuous lunch of MTR ready to eat pongal.
Mudassar’s condition had deteriorated, they (Mudassar assisted by Harish and Rafi) reached the top an hour later. My god he has survived till now with a little bit of badam milk. After all the photography of the scenery, taking group photographs, it was time to head home. We had to find the jeep track after about 45min walk, through grasslands, coffee estates, we found it. It was a great relief for everyone, that we reached civilization again. And it started raining.This was probably the most boring part of the trek, walking on jeep track, full of leeches (more leeches here than inside the forests). At about 6 in the evening we reached the estate building where we cleaned ourselves. A mini bus had been arranged  to take us to Chikmagalur. And from there back to Bangalore.

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Written by: Sandeep (Courtesy: http://sandeepprakash.homeip.net/myblog/)
Event organized by: Mudassar
Image Gallery:
Arun M B, Harish, Rafi, Sandeep, Santosh kumar

Monday, October 18, 2010

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

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Monday, October 11, 2010

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Monday, October 4, 2010

Castle Rock to Caranzole : Reposing Stride
I have been to most of the water falls in Karnataka but never really had a chance to go to the most striking and deafening waterfalls that subsists in Karnataka-Goa Border knownIMG_4328-1 as Dudhsagar. This time, I was fervent in joining this event organized by Ram through
Bangalore ASCENDers. To get there, we took a train (Rani Chennamma Express) from Bangalore on 01/10/2010 Friday Night 9:30 PM and reached Hubli by 6:30 in the morning. We freshened up at Hubli and most of our comrades finished their breakfast at Hubli, I made a mistake by either not having it there or packing them. I had not even taken MTR ready-to-eat as they were of no use and had to bring them back from earlier Brahmagiri trek, I only had fruits with me.
At 7:30 AM we boarded Vasco-Chennai Express at Hubli to Castle Rock station, on the way to Castle Rock, we had nice f un, specially from Satish the best humorist among Raghu, Naveen and other guys. We had fun about everything, like, News Media, Daily horoscopes, news reading in def and dumb action.  It was 9:30 when we reached Castle Rock. We took sIMG_4446-1ome time in changing our attire and get ready for the trek, by then I had made up my mind of finishing this trek just with fruits. We were all set by 10:30 AM and started trekking towards the Dudhsagar. We must thank Brits for building such an implausible train route in Western Ghats decades ago. Me, Doctor(Ravi) and Apoorva started to lead the way, as we trekked along in the Braganza Ghats, we saw, all-encompassing mountains, the alluring  Western Ghats and by 2:30 we reached a point known as Caranzole and had lunch there. I had only couple of fruits for lunch.
Caranzole to Dudhsagar: Unrivalled Episode
As we finished our lunch at Caranzole, heavy showers showed up. Meanwhile, there was a goods train waiting at Caranzole, the team was split, few of us (Me, Nadheem, Dr. Ravi, Apoorva, Navya, Satish and Naveen) decided to trek all the way in the rain but others were fanatical about going in a Goods train. So, we loaded our heavy baggage onto the train with other accomplices, and started to trek in the heavy downpour at 3:30. Me, Nadeem and Navya were heading the line-up, in fact the rain stopped after 10-15 minutes.  Trust me; the guys in the train missed a lot of scenic beauty. That’s the stretch where we had a gorgeous landscape, sweeping view of mountains, pitch-dark and rayless tunnels, diminutive streams making soothing jingle and railway bridges more than 200 Feet deep. Everything in that stretch was inimitable experience only for us who trekked.
The most creepy and terrific experience was in the tunnels, when we loaded our rucksacks to the train, we forgot to take our torches, definitely we got to be indebted for ourselves for doing this. It’s just not pitch-dark and Rayless; it’s frightening and life threatening as well (Trains run very frequently therIMG_4462-1 e), particularly the 290 Meters tunnel, where there is nearly 180 (Approx) degree curl and everything there is indiscernible, you can’t make out the track or the path, what if the train comes when we are in the middle, we can be dread and it’s very hard to presume the train’s direction. Fortunately, Apoorva’s cell was very handy at this point as I held it in the halfway to find the track and proceeded accordingly in the middle of the track, all of us held our hands and passed through the tunnel. I was sure that our Doctor was feeling anxious. However, after seeing the light at the other end, we were so excited that we started mocking stridently. We reached Dudhsagar by 6:00 PM.
As we reached, I have no idea why the tourists in DudhSagar Station started staring us like we are Extra Terrestrials. We moved ahead to find our troop, thanks to them as they had carried our backpacks to a nice place where we had little shelter which was very close to the waterfalls. WeIMG_4491-1 visited Dudhsagar falls; this falls is crushing, irresistible, appealing. We sat at the base of this glorious falls and soaked our weary legs in the cooling waters; there was a silence in everyone’s mind atleast for few minutes as we watched the prodigious falls, then the sun rays that came from the setting sun turned the falls slightly orange which made the falls even more contemplative.
Night Camp: The Dusk that cannot be discounted
As the nightfall was nearing we tried putting up a campfire by means of few newspapers and soggy woods which were available nearby. Campfire was not that great due to moist woods. We should undeniably be grateful to the people who prepared soup and noodles for us and stewed our MTR ready- to-eat using the portable stove. After finishing dinner, we had a grilling session, where an individual introduces himself/herself and questions are shot at him by the chosen ones, had great fun with that session. Later by 11:00 everyone went for a snooze.
The whole team decided to sleep in the nearby shelter but Me, Doctor and Apoorva slept right below the sky, gazing at the infinite (Stars) and we were hardly 50 Meters away from falls, that’s an unforgettable moment. The trains their run every 30 minutes with 5-6 engines fastened on either sides, most of them were goods carriers, carrying iron ore. The sound and the shuddering spawned by engines were astounding. It was 4:30 in the morning when I woke up to see that our sleeping bags, sleeping mats were wet due to the mist created by the colossal falls. Then all the three of us decided to sleep under the same shelter with our other teammates till 6:00 AM. IMG_2139-1Day 2: DudhSagar to Kulem
Almost all of us woke up by 6:00 AM and freshened up; few took bath in the nearby falls. It was too deep at the top. So, Me, Allwyn, Rajini, Dhananjay and Vinay trekked to the base wherein the trek path had a gradient of almost 75 degrees  and bathed in that chilling waters. I and Allwyn got almost drowned at one point because of our irrational foolhardy stunts. Most of us tripped while bathing due to the slippery rocks. One must be very careful as the currents there are fierce and the water pools are very deep. Nadeem, Ravi, Hemanth, Apoorva and few others had trekked to IMG_4682-1the base just to check out the far-reaching view of the falls and they took some snaps too. Regrettably, even Nadeem slipped into the stream but got out of it soon. After bathing, we changed our outfits and started to ascend.
We reached the top and everyone was busy having breakfast. However, as I had mentioned before, I took nothing apart from fruits. I thought of having one oran ge for breakfast and taking some snaps of DudhSagar falls as falls area was completely vacant. It was only me and falls for at least 30 minutes. I went down and took some snaps and also used the timer for my pictures with falls, by then everyone had finished their breakfast. After having tea from a portable teawala, we started trekking towards Kulem which is another stretch for 12 Kms.  Even this stretch was fabulous. Me and Nadeem were leading the way by surpassing all the part takers. We had carrots, bananas on the way. At one point we saw jeep trail, and took that path for a while as we were jaded of those spiky railway path. WeIMG_0173-1 came back soon to the railway track after noticing that the jeep trail was opposing the railway track. Doctor and Hemanth joined us when we were almost nearing Kulem. Goa welcomed us with its usual intense heat and humidity, as we proceeded towards Kulem we took around 2 breaks to ensure there’s enough fluid supply to our bodies. We reached Kulem by 1:30 to find Susheel and Ajay waiting for us. They were surprised to see us reaching the station at least 2 hours early than the expected time.
The Return Voyage
We had a lunch at the nearby restaurant, as we finished our lunch there were heavy showers poured like it never rained in Kulem before. Everyone arrived except few who waited in Sonaliam with Rajini as she had slightly warped her leg. We all took a train to Londa by 4:45 PM. We had to take General Booth, as there was no booking. The General compartment is utterly congested and stinks. However, me and Nadeem stood in the door and never gave up that spot to others where there was a cool gust and the heavy thunders. We picked our other teammates from Sonaliam and progressed towards Londa.
In the train we had a matchless experience, we had to listen to the song sung by a old man, and as we reached Londa there was also a transsexual who IMG_4904-1was collecting money from people. I was anxious and rushed towards the door when the train almost approached Londa. We reached the station by 6:30 PM and had anything  that is available there as a dinner and got into Rani Channamma Express at 8:20 PM. Even though everyone was worn-out because of immense heat, humidity and 12 Kms trek, we started playing Dumb Charades in the train. We played, giggled, chuckled, snuffled, took some cool pics and then dozed off  by 11:00 PM. We reached Bangalore by 9:45 AM instead of 7:30. Our DudhSagar Voyage ended there.

Every comrade in the team was terrific, would like to see them in the impending rambles.
Thanks to all the Patrons for making this Trek a Remarkable Empiricism.
collage

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Written by: Lakshmish (Courtesy: http://lakshtravel.blogspot.com/)
Event organized by: Ramprasad
Image Gallery:
Apporva, Alwyn, Hemanth, Mridula, Naveen, Navya, Ramprasad, RaviChandran, Rajani, Satish R, Susheel