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Monday, July 22, 2013

DSCN7546 The last minute dropout of my dearest co-trekker was a disappointment since the fun part of the trek would come down drastically, and then I met the new group for exploring the Rangaswamy Betta near Kanakapura district. The enthusiasm shot up soon after I met them in Banashankari (my pick-up point) and soon we started with our traditional dumb-charades. Upon reaching the base of the hill, we lost the way of the exact entry point. After several exploratory work of Patrick, we finally started our trek. The time was 11.30 PM and yes, it was a night trek.

DSCN7547 Bilikal Rangaswamy Betta located close to Kanakapura is around 50 km from Bangalore. The hill stands tall at 3,000. It is part of Eastern Ghats, and is covered with shrub forest. There is a shrine at the hilltop devoted to Lord Rangaswamy. Temple priest lives near the temple and one can spot elephants and other animals in the night. The Trekking Trail starts from Koonala Doddi. From the top, one can see the hillocks of the Kanakapura range, including BM betta and KabbaLa durga. On a bright sunny day, Savanadurga can be seen.

DSC_3500 We had the head count as per the protocol and started ascending at 11.45 PM. Patrick and Rajesh led the trail through the agriculture fields, then finding the way to base of the hill. Rangaswamy Betta is a part of Bannerghatta National Park and is a well-known home for wild elephants & buffalos. As we ascended, the vegetation got thicker and the routes became narrower. There was a heap of elephant dung that was dry, giving a relief that it has passed this place a long ago. We could spot the stamping of vegetation that indicated the elephants trail, but we continued with all enthusiasm to reach the peak. We made three stops; first stop was on a fairly flat area in the middle of the peak. We rested here for a while, ate some energy bars that could help us ascend well.

DSC_3399 The gushing wind and the pushing enthusiasm were just enough for the group to get going. All along the trail there were lighter talks, which was necessary to gear up the mood of tired co-trekkers. Patrick had made it clear that we keep our voices low, since it was night and it was not good to disturb the wildlife. It was almost 30 minutes and then we spotted some fresh dung of elephants that did not scare us either. It was very important to maintain silence and keep our senses open to the sounds of nature around us.

P7210337 A very important thing that I learnt about elephants is that, when an elephant attacks, we should either run in a criss-cross fashion or just run downhill. It was a very valuable information for this trek.

The second stop was at a point where we could see the town below, making it a perfect resting spot since we could also enjoy the marvellous view of the beautifully lit town.

DSC_3501 We continued our way to the top after some rest but from then the routes became steeper and every step was atleast 3 feet height. The ascending slowed down quite a bit and it was really important to pass those areas, since we could spot more and more fresh dung. Every step had to be watchful, since there were other wild creatures that could pose threat. What we hold on during the walk, where we step to ascend had to be carefully done, because snakes and other reptiles may thrive on the tree barks and there was every chance of getting bitten.

DSC_3569 A highly positive face of involving ourselves into trekking is quite obvious if we observe, we are tuned to be alert, our concentration on our surrounding becomes optimum and we tend to push ourselves in the adverse paths of rocks and boulders to reach the final frontier. This is so relevant in our daily life activities. All these things surely help us get through tough times in life, leading us to the ultimate peak of success.

P7200316 The third stop was quite interesting as we finally were reaching the clouds and the visibility range was just a meter. The sudden precipitation resulted in mist formation and the weather became quite pleasant. Initially, it was bliss since we were tired and needed that cool weather to calm us down. It became intense by some time and we started shivering. All the jackets and warm clothing were taken out again to save ourselves. We were still walking through the mist and Patrick indicated that we had almost reached the peak. The peak was about 100 mt far and then we heard Tree breaking sounds!!!! We stopped abruptly. Patrick and I continued leaving others behind to check if the trail was safe to continue. We had switched off the torch and took help of natural moon light. Upon walking a few meters, we heard the bamboo stems being crushed. We were sure that we had encountered an elephant, but had not seen it yet. As we moved further, the sound appeared to be approaching towards us. This was the point where I was freaked out and stayed behind while Patrick still kept walking.

When he realized that it was time to return, he wanted to communicate his decision to me and he turned back, I was all the more freaked out and before he could tell me anything, I started running back. It looked very important at that time because of fear, but then Patrick turned the whole situation into a funny sounding situation later that day.

After this near – to – visible encounter with wild elephant, we decided to descend back to the base, since it was important to stay safe. Trekking is always about exploring the nature but within safety limits of a human being. We had a very tough ascending that had already given us a feeling that we have trekked. We reached back to the base at around 5.30 AM. By then I had already exerted more pressure on my left leg and it had already started paining. We took some rest at the base. Headed back to our vehicle where we freshened up for next trail near Chunchi falls.

At 10 AM, we started trekking towards Chunchi falls and it was only few steps and my left leg had already started refusing to walk anymore. I ignored the pain and managed on the other leg.

DSC_3487 This part is something I will never forget. It was a very small step from one rock to other, and I had to manage with one leg to do it. My right leg got stuck into one of the root; I toppled myself and fell on a rock face-first. World stopped for a moment, I could not hear anything; all I could hear was the strange buzzzz. I immediately got up and sat for a while, but the damage had already happened. Right side of my face was swollen, had hurt my jaw very badly and had a small cut on my chin. Although there were no major visible injuries, I observed bleeding through my nose and was spitting blood quite frequently. The impact was very high and thought I had broken my jaw. I and Anwesh, another avid trekker rushed to the nearest dispensary and got a dressing on my wound and a tetvac shot (an injection).

I must say, Bangalore Ascenders is the right organization for any trekker, because they are not only experts in organizing treks. Each one of them are great humans, who love fun, who believe in protecting nature, respecting the interest of every trekker and more over who care very much about the safety and well-being of each one.

They were ready to withdraw trekking but then I did not want to be a party-breaker. So I requested them to complete all that was planned, while I could take good rest in the bus. Some started to trek down the valley and reached the base of the valley. From there they climbed the other side of the valley and reached the stream from where the Chunchi falls originates. Finally reached back to Bangalore by 8.00PM.

All in all a mixed experience of enthusiasm, fear, pain and excitement. What more could a passionate trekker ask for!?

DSC_3381Thank you very much for reading my story without any pain & Special thanks to Patrick, Raj Esh, Anwesh & Joisa for keeping my spirits up. Can’t wait to meet you guys again :-)

Join Bangalore ASCENDers @ CLICK HERE

Written by: Pradeep
Date: July 20th

Event organized by: Patrick Samuel
Image Gallery:
Rakshit shetty, Ravindra, Miten, Srivatsa sharma

The Crew: Patrick, Kiran, Pradeep Damle, Anand Kumar, Prashant, Harshit Shrivastava, Ankita Nanchahal, Vikas, Rakshith Shetty, Ranganath Mukunda, Rajesh R, Ravindra Joisa, Srivatsa Sharma, Chaitra Joisa, Rajesh Suvarna, Miten Odharia, Arun Kumar, Chandrasekaran, Sivaraj, Shweta Hunagund, Anvesh, Satish Anand, Anitha, Tulsi, Sanjib

Monday, July 15, 2013

With  more excitement and energy, I had geared up for another one day exploration :). I registered for the event as soon as I checked my mailbox. I was very happy to see my name getting selected. I was ready to volunteer for any task and was given the responsibility of finance management.
Along with Shalini I reached KR Market (our assembly point) around 6:50am. After meeting old buddies and getting introduced to new ones, I started collecting money and Swetha noted it down. Our team of 21 crew  started off from Bangalore Kalasipalya bus stop around 7:30 am.
As we all settled in the bus, I took the count of number. Then sat in the last row of the bus with Patrick, Swetha, Shalini and Chiru. The bus started moving and it was time for some munching. We had biscuits, chocolates, chikki and kaccha mango. Our bus journey consisted of pestering, commenting, chattering (and ofcourse eating :)) and we didn't even realise we reached Kanakapura.
Chandan, native of Kanakapura had made arrangements for food and local transport (Thank you Chandan on behalf of everyone). We had our breakfast and packed our lunch from Vasu hotel (renowned hotel in Kanakapura). Then we started off to the base camp in minidor (Not to forget the bakwas talks we had while travelling :P and dog that followed us).
clip_image001With the introductory session and after signing the BASC form, we started ascending. The initial part was rocky and then came the thick thorny way through the bushes. It was an exploratory trek, Patrick and few others carefully directed fellow trekkers. Walking under the trees was a fantastic experience. It seemed like we were a part of some English movie like the 'Jurassic park'. We carefully moved forward bending, crouching and moving between the thorns. The dog (called by different names Scooby, rocky, ramu, tommy) followed wherever we went. We were all attacked by thorns and mosquitoes which left few of us with cuts, bruises and itches. Even though it was not sunny, we were all sweating and we took rest here and there along with snaps :-), doing masti and eating.
clip_image002After succeeding through the bushes, we came across a rocky region. Few enthusiasts started climbing the rocks and found no way further. Then later they climbed down and we followed the directions of a trail(The dog also directed us in the same way). To replenish our energy, we ate chocolates, pepper mints and chikki. From there we climbed through the greens, rocks with beautiiful view of the nearby villages, hills, water reservoir, clouds. We reached the top and had conquered the hill around 1:30pm.
clip_image003On top of the hill, we had a brief session on Yoga from Shalini with everyone having their eyes, ears and mind open to know on how to reduce weight, how to get sleep and many more questions running in their minds. During the Yoga session, we ate fresh oranges, plum cakes, salt biscuits, salted peanuts, kodbele, fried peas and biscuits. After some time, we had lunch and took rest for a while. Then with the group pic, we started descending. Almost after 50% of our journey back, rain God poured but we were all ready with jackets, rain coats, wind cheaters and hats. It was another lovely view with foggy clouds, bosky bushes and shining rocks. We slowly climbed down and reached a place where we could all sit. Again it was time for some snaps and munching.
clip_image004
                                                                   (group pic).
clip_image005                                                         (Group pic on top of the hill)
Later we reached the base camp and started off to nearby water stream. Soon we found that the water was not fit for water games so we returned to the bus stand. We then had juice, butter milk and coffee. We departed from Kanakapura around 6:30pm. Myself and Swetha were busy in calculating the total trip cost and returning the extra money to all. Meanwhile others were playing dumb charades. We reached Banashankari around 8:00pm, said good bye to all and departed.
I thank BASC and everyone for making this trekking a memorable one.
Visit our Group @ CLICK HERE
Organizer:Patrick Crew: Rajesh, Nagaraj, Shamanth,Swetha Padakandla,Jijo ,Dinesh,Shashi,Apoorva,Shalini Batra,Deepika,George,Sreeharsha Aithal M,Anshul Chaurasia,Manohara,Ramya,Rama,Anand C,Kondur chiranjeevi ,Chandan kumar,Priyanka,Deepak HK,Patrick,Supreetha,Durgacharan,Tulasi
Written by : Shamanth Prem kumar Image Galleries:Dinesh, Anand