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Monday, November 18, 2013

Treks are addictive. They make you give up your inhibitions and your fears, shuts up your doubts and confusions and pushes you towards the road less travelled. And you come back feeling better than ever, feeling the joy of experiencing the unseen, of exploring the unknown, of realizing that you have it in you to do the un-doable!!

IMG_9621 Treks are also the best place to meet awesome people, people you wish to hang out with even after the trip is over, people you want to be friends with for a long time to come. Most people you meet on treks are down to earth and humble and if you like that kind, you should definitely try and trek!

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By the time I finished Kodachadri, I realized how much more there is to do when it comes to building my endurance, to become stronger mentally and physically. So far, none of my treks demanded so much out of me as much as Kodachadri did. But, I loved it. I loved every bit of pain in my body, loved every step taken towards a new experience.

Nagara Fort, the first pit stop at the break of dawn was a treat to the eyes. A quick route to the top gives you a panoramic view of the landscape which looks picture perfect from every angle. Cultivated land, a house in between, a river flowing in the background with multiple bridges, trees all around and the fort itself adding to its beauty. Nagara Fort is a must see place on the way to Kodachadri.

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View from Nagara Fort

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View from Nagara Fort

IMG_9530 Nittur fed us with some delicious South Indian breakfast and soon, we were ready to start hiking. From the Main Road, we entered this small opening and hence started the 2 day long, almost 30 km hike, trek, exploration. After walking through a jeep trail for an hour or so, we entered through the fields and forests to reach Hidlumane Falls. The water here was freezing and everyone played in the falls. No leech bites so far :)

From here we started the almost 4 to 5 hours of steep uphill climb to reach Kodachadri peak with not many breaks. This was my first 2 day 1 night trek - Which meant heavy backpack with sleeping bag, poncho, extra water bottles, food, clothes etc. The bag was heavy, the mountain steep and end was nowhere in sight. So we kept hiking, chit chatting when we could gasp a breath, pushing ourselves to greater heights.. literally!

 

Very close to the peak, there were vendors selling cucumber, watermelon, churmuri, groundnuts. We gobbled them all :). As we reached the Kodachadri peak, we saw co-trekkers, sitting at cliffs and waiting for the much spoken about sunset. The sun threw different colours on the mountains giving us the much-needed relief after a hard day’s trek! The moon on the other side looked gorgeous on an almost full moon night giving us enough light to walk up to our camping spot.

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Sunset from Kodachari

On reaching a small plateau, we started the big task of setting up a community tent. I call it that coz 12-13 people slept inside this one tent. Organizers had carried ropes and tarpaulins and with the help of the entire group, a tent was built. And before I knew, majority of them were inside and ready to sleep. And it was only 8 PM. Rest of us, sitting outside definitely did not want to sleep this early and hence started playing Mafia, a game well explained by Girish and played even better by the rest of us. The game requires you to be sly, strategic and manipulative and we tried our best to be all of that. Most of us failed and some did phenomenally well!

The night was bad for me. It was very windy, tent loud because of the wind and very little place to sleep. I am not sure how long I slept for but I definitely woke up 5 to 6 times with an imagination of some animal or worse, some stranger at our camp site.

Morning started at 5:30 with Patrick's voice waking all of us up. We quickly packed our sleeping bags, rolled up the tarpaulins and ropes and walked towards another mountain for the sunrise. The view was beautiful and I will let these pictures do the talking.

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Sunrise

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The colors it adds to our lives

We soon started our descend and headed towards Batrumane where a few of us stopped for tea. You would expect longer breaks on a trek this long, but no they were really short ones. The descend took us about 2 hours. We stopped at Santosh Hotel where we had our breakfast and packed Lemon Rice for lunch.

From here started the exploration of Arshingundi Falls. Patrick, our organizer has a GPS device which guided us till a certain point I’m guessing but after that a lot was dependent on their sense of direction. So initially we ended up at a stream leading to a certain falls. There was absolutely no trail through the forests and we had to slide, slip, run, jump, grab trees and roots to move forward. All this while trying not to get bitten by leeches. After some more climb and descend we reached an unknown falls but a beautiful one.

Guys played in the falls and I sat with my feet in the water getting a natural foot massage. Lunch followed and without too much rest, we started the ascend. There were 2 options. One was to head towards Kollur and the other to go back to where we started from. I’m again guessing we couldn’t figure out the route to Kollur and hence walked back the same way we came.

While descending, I kept hoping we won’t have to climb back the same way as the route is very steep but god definitely was not listening. Everytime I looked up, I couldn’t see the sky, which meant we were still in dense forests. I am not sure how long we climbed for or the distance we covered, but it sure felt never-ending. And not taking enough breaks did not help either.

IMG_6368I wonder what I would have done if not for the trees. They supported us in every way possible. I held on to them to pull myself up, hugged them to make sure I did not fall, leaned on them when I could not carry my weight anymore, grabbed their roots when I couldn’t find anything else to hold onto. It’s ironic, even a tree which probably is very young and looks strength-less could help us in so many ways. New found respect for Nature God.

IMG_9641We finally made it to the top from where it was another 4-5km walk but on flat surface. After walking till the main road, we spotted our matador, where we dumped our bags, and headed straight to the stream to freshen up. It felt good to be clean again :)

You would expect a bunch of totally drained human beings at the end of such an ordeal but this group was crazy. We danced in a moving matador for over an hour and played antakshari for 2 hours after that. But a sumptuous dinner at Shimoga is all it took to shut us up and open our eyes only to see Bangalore flyovers and morning traffic.

One of the toughest treks I have done so far but a must do.

Leaders at Bangalore Ascenders are a bunch of passionate organizers and will leave no stone unturned when it comes to giving you the experience of exploration.

Things I loved:

  • The gang of guys I hung out with. Tulu (My mother tongue) jokes were hilarious and definitely reduced the extertion.
  • The sunrise was beautiful
  • Landscape unmatched. I have dreamed of being amidst such mountains for really long
  • Mafia game was super fun. Thanks Girish
  • I have more or less overcome my fear of leeches

Written by : Vachana Shetty

Post – 2

START

The Trek journey started 2hrs late but gave us lot of time to prepare ourselves. We left 2 hrs beyond the scheduled time by around 11pm and everyone were feeling sleepy but our organizer Patrick insisted on the Introduction part. So after the introduction part all of us stretched and tried to catch sleep when our fellow participant put on some Grinding Disco music throughout the night that too loudly. I wonder why none of us had the courage to request him to stop playing the music, maybe we all felt he would feel bad for his Disco night Party!!

1451526_10201703902892286_678886376_nNAGARA FORT

Next morning we all woke up for Sunrise and cursed for the all loud night music. Well by 7.30am we were at Nagara Fort, all of us got down and were mesmerized by its beauty. We raced each other to the top of the fort and posed for group snaps. The view of the surroundings from the top was breathtaking. So we continued to Nittur.

By 9.30 am we were at Nittur village hotel having tasty Uppittu Keasaribath, Idly Sambhar and packed food for lunch. Then we headed off to our starting point of the trek.

HIDLUMANE WATER FALLS

IMG_6383Here we Go… we walked 3 kms towards Hidlumane house and had Butter milk and started our climb towards Hidlumane Falls. Hidlumane Falls is like Ahhhhh Superrr Falls. I just didn’t wait for anyone and jumped to the falls. All of the 21 member gang took a shower in the falls. Then in 20 minutes we started our climb again.

KODACHADRI PEAK

From the falls, the climb was totally ascending and slightly difficult but we had a path to follow, so all we had to do is bend your body front, look down and start climbing. We climbed and climbed and climbed to reach the top of the hill and were greeted by another hill and by another hill. By now the beauty of the Western Ghats hill ranges were available for us to savour and we started feeling hungry. We were praying in our minds for the much needed stopover rest and lunch. We took a break of 30 minutes and again followed the further climb until we reached the Jeep track and from here walked 3kms until we reached Moola Mookambika temple and at Seetharam Jogi’s house we had a snack break. We further started our climb for the final stretch towards Kodachadri peak and after a grueling 45 mins we reached the top. By then Patrick had disappeared. We searched to find Patrick and few others at the other end of a smaller peak watching Sunset. I got tempted and went up there. Later we stretched and explored around the Shankaracharya temple and after a few ‘holding the Sun in your hand’ photos it became dusky and the chillness in the wind crept in.

SETTING UP BASECAMP and THE CHILLING WINDS

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So Kamalesh and Girish Motwani took in charge of setting the base camp and after Kamalesh’s huge efforts with help of others the Camping site was setup. By now we finished dinner of MTR ready to eat food packets. The Bisibelebath packets were tasty while the Rice bath tasted yuck. By now it was 8pm and many of us crawled into the Tent with our Sleeping Bags while the rest of them were playing a game called Mafia and Girish was explaining rules for more than an hour. But it was too windy and the sides of the tent banner had come off and it became too noisy. It was like a thunderous feeling entire night with the tent cover moving up and down and making a loud crackling noisy for the entire night. Trust me none of us got sleep and whoever slept outside were freezing that night. I remember Patrick asking for time in the middle of the night and I told him its still 5 minutes to twelve o’clock and he realized he still had to kill 5 long hrs of Chilling winds to wakeup!!

SUNRISE

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Patrick woke us up and all of us packed the tent covers and headed to see the Sunrise. Oh it was lovely with mist and fog covering the surrounding mountains. After sometime we started our descent down the Kodachadri ranges. We reached Santosh Hotel for breakfast and then packed the day’s lunch from there.

IMG_9564ARISHINAGUNDI FALLS

Well who knew this would be the most difficult part of our trek. With BASC GPS support and Patrick’s ability to find way we started off quietly deep into the forest. We were very well greeted by hundreds of leeches everywhere and whoever had brought Leech proof socks started wearing it for protection. As if this wasn’t enough we were greeted by steep descending and steep ascending hill forests in the midst of leeches. All of us were slipping and falling down steep slopes and leeches sucking the blood out of all of us. Finally after 2 hrs we reached the flowing river and had to do few more circus before reaching the nice water fall, well we couldn’t actually cover Arishinagundi Falls but found solace in an unknown waterfall. After having fun at the waterfall and finishing lunch we started back our same hike which was even more tougher than ever. After a long trek deep in the woods, we reached back to the mud road and after a rest we started back our walk on the road for nearly 3kms to reach the Kollur-Shivamogga Highway. It was already 5pm by then and Patrick had made up his mind to take a final dip in the river flowing nearby. Many of us got tempted to have one more dip in the cold water and we did just that.

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TRAVEL BACK

After Sun down we started our journey in the minibus and our dear friend Umesh started playing some HipHop and Tapanguchi numbers for half an hour. All of us danced to it and made Patrick show us some of his moves. ‘Why this Kolaveri’ and ‘Akka nim maneyali nayigu dance barutha’ songs were played in full blast. Later all of us joined in to sing Antakshari till we reached Shivamogga and had veg and nonveg dinner at the nearby hotel. After dinner all of us boarded the bus, settled accounts and slept tightly in the bus till we reached Bangalore around 5am and thanked everyone for a lovely time and a lovely trek.

Written by: Sreenidhi

Post - 2

Namaskara.. :)

Kodachadri, a long awaiting place to trek that was in my to-visit list right from my engineering days. Finally, its checked out. Thanks to BASC and Patrick/Deepak for organizing this trek.

1453329_10201703898532177_191439639_nAs a whole, it was a superb trek to the peak and the waterfalls. And I am sure the exploratory trek was little bit tiring for everyone but it was worth it at the end.  Credits to the whole gang for being a sport and supporting each other. I always enjoy the sunrise during the treks and Kodachadri was much better. It was mesmerizing! Too many hilarious jokes all through the trip was the fun part.

Loved the journey back to Bangalore, as it was so relaxing to loosen up inspite of the 2-day trek and to hit the dance floor. Great hidden talents from the team were displayed that night. Not to miss the Mangalorean style Fish fry and chicken sukka @Shimoga on the last day with Kudla group..!

Thank you all for a good time. Would like to meet you all in the treks to come. Keep in touch guys. Cheers..!!

Written by: Pawan Nayak

Join Bangalore ASCENDers @ CLICK HERE

Image Gallery: Deepak Saran, Vachana, Ajay, Johnson Pinto

Composed by: Swetha Padakandla

Event organized by: Patrick Samuel

Event Date: 16th and 17th November, 2013

The Crew: Patrick, Anil kumar G, Rekha G, Deepak Saran, Ashwath Govind, Ajay Somanal, Pawan Nayak, Anvesh, Vikas Shekar, Shashidhar, Aashish Urs, Amrutha Narayana, Shivagiri K, Vachana, Jeevan, Tulasi, Sreenidhi, Kamlesh, Girish Motwani, Johnson Pinto, Umesh

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