I had no idea where we were heading as my sister had booked it for me as usual and i had not tried to gather any info on it!!We were to leave that night and the same morning is when i realized that i have not packed my bags nor do i have the things ready for the trek!! :DI had no proper shoes or a sleeping mat then!! After a lil busy college schedule i was warned that i have hardly got any time left then! I then immediately rushed to pick my sister and did some shopping till the max time available.
The Journey begins....
We started from our home by 8:30pm by bus to reach Corporation circle at around 10:00. We then met Sriranga and Abhilash at the bus stop and could easily recognize them because of their backpacks! We started chatting and got to know that both of them work in Accenture!- the same company where my sister works as well! Then they started off with their office talks and i interrupted them to get some more info on where we were heading. It was then that i got to know about the leopards and bears in the forest!! I was so excited!! I immediately posted my status update on face book!! :D It was around 10:30 but the van had not arrived which was supposed be there by 10:00!! We knew that when it was mentioned in the mail that the van would arrive at the Corporation circle by 10:00; we guessed it that it was 10:00 IST!! :D :D ;) Finally the van arrived and we were greeted by Rafi with a smile and exchanged handshakes. We loaded our luggage and started off. On the way we picked the rest of the participants. Rafi introduced himself to all the participants one everyone was on board. He mentioned that he could not get the 127 hours of movie due to some problem in converting it to DVD. That was a lil bad :( but still we decided to have some good rest by sleeping tight so that we are fit and fresh enough for the adventure unfolding in front of us for the next two days.
We reached Kadur early morning and Rafi went out to get the permission from the forest department. We then had our breakfast and then started off by van to find the trail and then found the jeep trail. We proceeded in the jeep trail for a few Kms and then decided to start the trek from there. We got down the van and tightened our shoe laces, packed our bags and drank some water. We were ready to rock!! Then was the time for Introduction session. Gotta know that one is a cyclist, another a state level athlete and another, to whom this was the 67th trek if i remember properly. And there i was, standing between these guys who had done only 2 trekking of which one was not fully completed and the other was one night trek!! :D but i knew that there was no way out and i knew i had to do it. I then remembered about the leopards and got excited!! i pumped myself up and we had started off. We were told that we will hit the streams in another 5 or 6 Kms by Rafi. That sounded cool. We kept following the jeep trail while on the way clicking pictures.
Dipankar had got the GPS device and it started to show some other route!! so we took a deviation from the jeep trail and entered the forest. We kept moving along the GPS suggested route where we met some people working in the farm there. They said that that was not the way we should be heading and were suggested to go back to the jeep trail!! so we started moving back when Rafi tried and convinced saying that there are 37(don't remember exactly) trails to go along the forest and reach the destination!! We had just started the trek and the adventure had just begun!! :D losing the trail and trying to figure out our way into the forest!! We then saw the totally dried out stream and then Rafi told us that that’s the way we should be heading!! The dried out streams started off with stones and small boulders. By this time the sun was already on our heads and threatening us! We kept moving along while repeatedly asking Rafi when we were going to hit the streams to which he said that we'll see the streams soon!! so i started to gulp the water available since the streams would be nearby!! We kept going on and on but cou ld not find water. All our water bottles were running empty!! and it was noon already!! the patience was wearing thin to find water and we needed it desperately. Some of them started getting cramps as i did and so i drank some water which Bindu was carrying(luckily it was still there). She was looking exhausted already!! and started to walk slowly.
I knew that i need some inspiration then. I remembered about the leopards and then decided that i must somehow find it out!! I knew that the leopards will not be seen if there are a group of people. almost everybody were far ahead of us and Sujeevan, Rafi and Bindu were behind me. So i decided that this was the time for me and started to walk alone!! I thought I'll see the leopards any time and kept the camera ready and started clicking randomly. I looked ahead, nobody was there; looked behind and couldn't find any. I was just hoping to see a leopard soon!! All this was a secret till now!! After a while i found the rest of the participants resting at a place without water and it was already 2:00pm!! We took rest for sometime and th en again started off. As we kept moving a distance, we could hear sounds of water flowing!!! Vola!!! that seemed the moment for us!! We just rushed to the small stream, threw our bags and just could not wait to have water. I looked at the stream and it looked crystal clear. i was so excited and drank lot of water. The taste was heavenly. I had just realized the importance of water. It was 2:30 already and we were all hungry. Just could not wait to open our lunch and munch on it. Me and my sister went and sat on the boulder in the middle of the stream. We started to have our food and realized that we were having the fish therapy!!! All the small fishes were flocking us to eat the dead skin off our feet!! That was one experience! While we were busy having our food, Rafi reached the spot and heaved a sigh of relief!! He knew that he was saved for the day!! :D
We then packed up and started again. We headed to the forests and then again got back to the streams. The boulders by this time had grown by size. We started maneuvering along the boulders and then we reached one of the most beautiful spots- The Cave pool. What a view that was!! At one point the rocks seemed like as though god had made bricks from these rocks!! I was spell bound. We then went to the pool side and had some awesome fun inside the water. Firstly i had thought that 'm not gonna get into water, but that was so tempting that i just could not resist myself from getting inside the water. The water was extremely cold but I loved it!! We really wanted to spend some more time but were told that we would be late and it would get tough if we dint start immediately. So we started off again. Then was the moment, the steep climbs up the hill!! with almost no grip or anything to hold!! and yeah!! no way as well!! we had to make our own way!! That was too tiring and a bit scary as well. One slip and one could be off the hill in no time. We kept going and it kept getting darker. We knew that we cannot make it to the sunset since the sun had almost set and decided to camp. So Rafi came back and tried to explore the route. Now, we had to climb down the steep hill!! This was way more difficult than climbing the hill. The darkness started to threaten us already!! We could not even slide because there were not only grass there but rocks as well!! So i decide to move with caution and not slide.
It was almost dark by then and we all took out our Torches outta our bags. Then came the bigger rocks on which it was extremely difficult to go on, downwards. So it was time for rappelling!!! That too in dark!! :D That was a tough task. We started to first shift our bags and then get down. By this time it was totally dark and one could see stars shining bright. I could not spot the moon! The view was amazing. As i enjoyed the view of the stars i just saw the camp fire lit by Sriranga! It was then it became sure that we might reach the base soon!! It was my turn to rappel!! Initially it looked easy! i wondered why the ones who went before me were tensed while getting down, but when i tried to get down, i was shocked to find that there was absolutely no grip on my legs and i was suspended by just a nylon rope!! i wondered if that rope could hold all my weight!! I got scared for a second when i thought about what if!! I was then helped by Sujeevan to get my grip and land safely. I then picked up my bag and proceeded to the base camp. I could hardly see anything around since it was totally dark. I was then told that we were on the place on top of the Cave pool. I just imagined it myself how the place could be. Felt great. Then we warmed ourselves at the campfire and had some food and went to sleep. The place where we slept was very close to the water front i realized!! There was lot of undulations in the place where we slept and one roll and we could be inside water!! Then we started to sleep. It started getting cold. I wore an extra shirt and tried to sleep while enjoying a clear view of the s tars. Then it started getting really cold. I just rolled to my left, then to my right and then looked at the sky if it was morning. Was just trying to find some light to convince myself that the morning is about to happen!! I did that at least some 5 or more times!!
It was 5 in the morning and Rafi started waking us all up!! I guess i was the 1st one to wake up!! It then began to become brighter. I saw that we were the 14 of us surrounded by tall hills on all our sides and were just next to a waterfall and a gorge!!! The view was breathtaking. As i enjoyed the view we took some pics and started off on a new day! full of energy! We were told that we will be going along the stream for many Kms now and so it was necessary to carry water with us. As we started, on the 1st rock itself, we were welcomed with red ants!! But that dint reduce our spirits one inch. We started moving along the stream. Now these were big big boulders and crossing them was fun. Along this route many had falls!! I luckily dint have any fall!!! The terrain was really slippery and one could fall anywhere!! Then came the river crossing!! We had to wade through neck deep water!! We passed our bags by forming a human chain and the next was to pass ourselves! Here i thought Bindu dint know swimming and i was trying to help her cross the stream. But suddenly she jumped and started to beat her hands!! The next second is when i realized that she was swimming!!! All the while we came across crossing the streams and walking on slippery boulders. At one point it was getting extremely difficult to walk on the rocks so we had to take the river, but the river was at-least around 11ft depth according to my estimate. So i was perplexed as to what to do next. That was because i knew swimming to an extent but swimming in that deep water!! i knew my sister will not let me take any chances. Then we got a lifeline!! There was a tube that one of them had brought along!!! That made crossing the river so simple!! My sister tied a rope to her waist and then got into the water with the tube on. She was assisted by Arun and Deepankar. Actually they pushed her way all through the river to the safe spot while she was enjoying the joy ride!! :D Next was my turn and i did the same, but i swam across myself!!
Next we came across a spot where we had to cross a deep river which was easily 100 mts long an d deep!!! so had to swim all the way!! Dipankar did a great job of finding the other end of the river. Then Bindu, Arun and all the swimmers started getting to the other end and positioned themselves to pass the bags and the non swimmers. It was taking a lot of time and Rafi decided to send me with the help of sleeping mat! I was a lil scared at the beginning but then i thought of going ahead with the idea as that was the real adventure and thats the thrill all about. I was assisted all along by Dipankar while i tried to push myself along the river. Then Bharath and Sriranga helped me out to reach the deck safely. Rafi crossed the river the same way as i did but he looked so funny to me while crossing!! :D The rest of the non swimmers who dint want to take a chance reached via tube. We then had our lunch and then started off again. We were greeted by numerous waterfalls. Each one of them were so beautiful. We could not spend much time at the waterfalls since we knew that we were getting late as Rafi kept telling us. Bu this time Bindu had some problems with her legs and could not walk fast. After we all got along together, we were about to climb a steep hill again!! This was more difficult since the stones used to come crashing down from the top since it was a slippery terrain. Many got hurt with these rocks as well!! i did!! Immediately after we climbed the steep hill, we had to climb down from the other side!! It was really difficult since there was hardly any grip available and there was no room for error. Then we saw that the sun was fast setting down and we decided to have a group pic.
We clicked a few of them and had our food and then started again. Next was another tough one. We had to walk along the slippery rocks alongside water and any slip and fall from there and we would be easily be a few hundred mts below. We managed to get our grip and crossed it without any fall. It started getting darker and Rafi started moving very fast. A few were left behind and the others were far ahead of me. I knew that i need to move faster. So i started to move faster. At one point i realized that i was totally alone in the forest and my friends were not to be seen or heard!! I called Rafi aloud but got no response. I was perplexed whether to go back to the rest of the participants behind or stay back in the place where i was or to keep going. I then decided to move on, come what may. Another thing that inspired me was the hope of finding leopards!! I had heard that the animals come to drink water at night and if i was alone, i was sure of having a chance to spot the wild beast!! I wished to at least spot a snake somewhere!! At least in water!! so kept watching the water carefully from then onwards!! As i kept moving ahead i heard the voice of Rafi. He guided me the route and i followed it to the top of waterfalls, this was another tough one. We then, all of us had reached the spot but Bindu and Sujeeven had not come yet. They reached the place only after around 45 minutes of Rafi reaching the spot!! As soon as they reached, we realized that the sunset was all but over and it would get extremely tough from now onwards. Rafi even tried to convince us to camp at the place for the day and start the next day to which most of them disagreed. So we took our torches out and started in dim light. We were all walking extremely close to each other from the time we restarted to walk the path. Since it got dark we had no clue about the way and we were lost in the thick forest. We tried all the way possible from gong to left, right, up the hill and down the hill. But dint get any route.
By this time every one was sure that we had lost our way in the thick forest which is a home for leopards and sloth bears!! And that we were miles away from the human habitat!! Then Dipankar opened his GPS device and then we knew that we were a few kilometers away from the actual trail. We then followed the GPS and it lead to some other place where we saw the rock on which "200m" was written! we followed the path n then found that the next writing on the rock showed "600m". So we decided to move back in the same path as the GPS had shown a smaller distance from the "200 m " rock. At this point i was really disappointed and i had given up all hopes of going outta the forest that day and so decided to camp then and there. But Rafi convinced that it was not the right place to camp since we had also seen elephant footsteps on our way there. With no much support to me, i decided to trek along. I then thought, afterall that was what adventure was all about. We then reached the place and then with no other option we decided to tread the path shown by the GPS. Finally after long hours of trekking, we found a board showing the direction to Talakona!! I started getting my hopes back!! because Rafi had told me that we need to descend a few hundred meters from the jeep trail to reach the waterfall and another few hundred meters from the Talakona waterfalls to reach the destination. Still i kept moving, hoping for the best. Finally we reached the base of the waterfalls and tried to view the waterfalls at dark night!! Then Rafi used 2 torches to show us the top of the waterfalls and that looked huge!!! After that we started moving further downwards to reach the base. We finally reached the base and crossed the small stream of water. As we came out of the forest and again started moving on the road, i saw some animal sitting just next to the tree!! I immediately told my sister. She was extremely afraid thinking it to be a leopard. After all, it could have been a leopard itself or a dog or any cattle!! I really wante d to know more about it. But my sister just did not let me look behind. Had it been a leopard, that would be the best moment for me. Spotting a wild beast in the forest!! You gotta be extremely lucky to spot one. We then walked on the road for a new Kms and then we came at the entrance of the forest. It was already 2am!! We then proceeded to the van and just could not believe that i had actually made it!! We all started from there by 2:30 and were all hungry. Rafi asked the driver bhai to stop at a nearby dhaba, but when the driver stopped at the dhaba, we were all in deep sleep!! :D The next moment i remember was morning!! and we were close to Bangalore and i had started getting calls already!! I just thought- What a life i lived for 2 days in forest and totally disconnected from the world!! We then got down at near Hudson circle, bid goodbye to all and got back home.
Hats off to Rafi for organizing this trek. Considering the fact that this is the first time BAsc had organized trek for Talakona, it was a herculean task which Rafi handled very well. Having the patience was the key and keeping the tempers in limits worked well. I thought i would blame Rafi for losing the trail but at the end of the day, that was adventure all about, and that we all really enjoyed it.
Special thanks to Dipankar for GPS support and hats off to the energy that he carries. Swimming all the way at so many places called for real energy. Special thanks to all the swimmers for helping us all non swimmers in crossing the rivers.
OOPS!! i just realized that i have taken more than 2 hours to write this !! :D Just hope you enjoyed reading!! :)
Hope to see you all again soon! :)