Like Duck to Water, thats how I have taken to life :). This blog is the saga of love and adventures of a small duck in a large water body called LIFE....

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

BTFYA 2 - Bisle trek :)


Its strange how the brain stores information that it needs and simply discards that it doesn't. Well, thats certainly not helpful when you are writing about a trek you went on more than 5 years ago :-D. In fact I didn't even remember the month I went to Bisle, leave alone the actual dates. I knew it was in the summer from March to June, but didn't know exactly when. How did I find out? You won't believe it, but I had penned one particular day's experiences in a .doc file thinking that I'll send it to my friends once I'm done. I never managed to complete the document, but still had it archived somewhere :-D. Guess my budding blogging instincts were already alive and breathing :-D. So, thanks to ME :-D, I can tell you the exact dates I went on the trek and how I found the trek group I went with :-D.

Just a note to remember before I start off, I still didn't know what a digital camera was then, so all the photos are courtesy of the Analog Cannon camera that has served my dad well for more than 20 years :). I had scanned pics of the same but of lower resolution (5 years ago 800x600 was the monitor's resolution! :-p), so had to get them scanned again to even write this post (thanks to dad). I had some other photos thanks to fellow trekkies, but sadly they are too low a resolution to be even featured :(. The point I'm getting to is that the photos may not be as good or as clear as the newer digital ones :-D. You have been warned. Also want to say that since there were a lot of people in the trek group, I won't be mentioning names (not really worried about copyright as such as it is my story, but somehow am hesitant to).

Maybe I always wanted to trek in some corner of my mind, but never actually had the urge to go at it alone (I remember I went on a trek to Saavandurga hill with my Yoga group when I was younger than 12 years and I took Darsh with me. But that was just a day trip with no overnight stay). What made me go for it this time, I'll never know (hey, if I haven't figured it out till now, then never :-p). Yes the frustrations I mentioned in the first post of the "Back to five years ago series" were a major part of it. But for a person who never travelled without her parents, it was a big step.

I found out about the trek to the Bisle forest through our newspaper. Bisle forest is part of the Western Ghats and has several peaks and tributaries of the Kaaveri river. The trek was being organized by a group called Nature Admire - so I called them repeatedly up to get all the details of the trek (wanted to make sure that there were a couple of girls/ladies going on the trek). The Nature Admire people came to know that another group called Mars Adventures was going to the same place and hence they decided to send whoever was registered with them with the Mars adventures group. And boy, am I glad they did, in hindsight. I also found out that there were totally 28 of us going. That helped me a lot in getting over my initial nervousness (not to mention my mom's ;-) :-D).

I met the group at night 8PM on 21st May 2004, carrying a backpack with me full of stuff that we were advised to bring - Ablution kit (Soap, towel, toothbrush and paste), a couple of clothes , a Rain coat, pairs of socks, canteen (plate, tumbler, water bottle 2 liters, a blanket, a torch, and a pen. I also carried my mobile (eventhough it was useless in the forest) and my dad's camera. We were also instructed to put everything in separate covers and put them all in a bigger cover (to protect them in case the backpack got wet). I met some of the members - a group of 4 s/w engineers (they are everywhere!), a couple, 2 children and a couple of familes! I also met the head of Mars adventures Kamesh and his 4 assistants (Vinay (fondly called Vinoba), Purushottham, Naagu and Hema). We climbed onto 2 vans and were off :).

It was early morning 5:30 AM on 22nd May 2004, when we reached Kukke Subrahmanya. It was drizzling slightly, so for a first time trek, this was turning out to be a rain trek ;-). We had only half an hour to complete our daily morning routines - so quickly completed those, had a cup of tea and were off to the place the vans would drop us. They dropped us on a road from which we had to trek downhill to the basecamp with our backpacks + oddities like utensils and sleeping bags. On the way, we found a hanging bridge we had to cross to get to the basecamp and it was literally hanging!!! There were a couple of logs which were floating away to glory, few which were blissfully submerged in water and others which were missing altogether. Moreover the logs were slippery due to the ongoing rain. We had to hold on to the railing of the bridge and sometimes even climb on to them to get across. Phew!!! The adventure had begun :).







We reached the base camp soon enough. The base camp had several huts and a platform which was an advantage - we need not carry all the things we brought with us. We dumped our back sacks inside the hut, Kamesh got the hut secured (since it was raining, there were lots of leeches around and we certainly didn't want them hiding in the backpacks :-D), had a quick breakfast of ganji and bread and listened to trek instructions from Kamesh (for Eg, if you encounter an elephant, you should run uphill and not downhill!! Also if you get lost in the forest, the best thing to do is find water and follow it upriver/downriver because you are bound to find some life near water). Our plan that day was to trek and climb a hill. The trek would be 8km uphill and then later 8km back downhill :-O.

Let me tell you for a first time trekkie, 8 km is certainly not a child's play (though the children who were along with us made it feel like one :-D). By the time we crossed 1.5 km, I was feeling really tired and wondering whether I’ll be able to make it :(. I wasn’t sure why I really decided to trek anymore. I even remember thinking “I cannot believe that I paid for this torture” :-D. It was raining on and off and since we did wear raincoats, the rain wasn't really a problem. But the leeches couldn't so easily be dismissed. They seemed hell-bent upon getting into our shoes and enjoying their meal. All of us had sticks in our hands to pick the leeches off our legs (can’t lift them off with hands, as they attach themselves to the hand and start sucking :-p). It didn’t matter that we had smothered our legs with odomos, tobacco leaves, stuffed our shoes with salt and what not!! The first time a leech climbed on me, I was like “eeks!!!” and somehow managed to get rid of it. Soon, we got the hang of it. You just had to keep moving fast to avoid them. Whenever we needed a breather, the only way to stop was to find a smooth rock with no leeches on it to stand upon. Yet, one lucky leech (unlucky for me :-D) managed to crawl its way into my shoe. I couldn’t even remove my shoe as there were its relatives waiting to attack my leg ;-). So just went on :(.

After sometime we stopped caring about the leeches. Know why? We started seeing snakes. There were orange coloured leaves everywhere and these snakes were small and orange in colour. It was our plain luck that none of us stepped on one :-D (BTW my document on this trek ends here, so the rest of this post are actual memories :-D). Kamesh and his team were wonderful, divided the entire group of people into sub-groups of 7 each and would shout to each other to find out if everything was alright (so that if one group stopped for any reason, the group ahead would be notified). At almost the peak, the climb became steeper. One of the assistants did some rock climbing to attach ropes, with which we all pulled ourselves up to a precipice (it was damn scary). But the view beyond was worth it :).




We sat there and had some biscuits and eatables just enjoying the view.




The climb down was obviously easier and faster, but scarier. Somehow when you are climbing up, you don't really notice the steepness ;-). Yup there were a couple of muddy falls, but oh well, thats expected on a muddy downward path right? :-p. Once we were back in the base camp, the first thing we did was remove our shoes and check for leeches. I did have a couple of bites and one leech stuck in my shoe, but it's stomach was already full, so it was not interested in me anymore ;-). I think one man had the largest number of bites - I think it was somewhere inbetween 18 to 25!




We all washed up in the river, helped setup the camp and soon had a campfire blazing :).




I think we did the usual Anthyakshari, sang lots of songs, had some dinner (don't remember what now - some type of rice) and headed to sleep off. I slept in a hugggggggggge tent they set up on the platform shown above. Some people slept in one of the huts and others in sleeping bags. It was not very cold and the rain had stopped, so we had an open tent and I think it fit some 10 of us. I remember being worried that the leeches will climb onto the platform and get into my hair and that I wouldn't be able to get them out (it seems funny now, but at that time, I wasn't really crazy about that thought :-p). But as I lay on the hard ground staring up at the opening of trees which revealed the brightest stars, I knew that was precisely where I wanted to be :). I think that was the moment when I knew I wanted to do it again and again (yeah pay and get tortured :-D). It was awesome and I loved the adventure of it all :).

Next morning we were up early and had the usual breakfast. This was our big tent:




Our plan for the day was to leave by noon and get back to Bangalore within the night. But before that we want to do some river-crossing with the help of ropes on a smaller branch of the river. So we had to cross the main branch by foot first..




I love nature, especially gushing rivers and waterfalls. The previous evening I spent a long time just sitting one one of the boulders and feeling blissful. To be in the middle of nature with no touch as such to any technology is indescribable. It makes you feel so much awe for it all, such a meagre mortal in front of a tremendous force :). Anyways, we headed to the smaller branch where Kamesh setup the ropes for river-crossing.




It looks easy, but its not really. You have to pull your weight on the ropes and well, since I am not easy on the weight part, the arms get tired easily. I made it about 3/4th of the way and back. But the fun was that each and every person from age 9 to around 60 actually did it :).



After that, we headed back and actually had lunch at a hotel on the way. As I said in the earlier post of the series, the trip helped me a lot in finding out a part of my true-self and recovering from a lot of frustrations I had building up in me :).

Epilogue:

1) I am a fan of Kamesh and his troupe for life, though I went on only one other trek with the guys. He was so strict about cleanliness (asked for the trash to be picked up in the trek) and so careful about our safety. The best part was that his assistants were poor kids he encouraged and trained to participate in rock-climbing competitions (so in other words - sponsored). They just had a Yahoo group from which I'd get mails updating about treks till a few months back, but recently they have a blog in which they write about all the treks! Here's the blog - Mars Adventures: Climbing in Bangalore and they have the contact details in case anyone is interested. Recently they posted about a trek to Kemmannugundi and man, I was so jealous. Before I got married, I wanted to trek with them there, but well, Sri was in a hurry :-D. Hopefully I'll get to do that once I'm back in Bangalore for good :-D.

2) I wanted to write this post to relive the trek, to kind of tell myself to get back to it :-D. Since we have Snugli, things have obviously slackened on our part. Trekking means we have to carry her, which is not a good idea, believe me :-D. We thought we'll atleast go camping this year, but now its too late. But have to go next year sometime :).

3) I also wanted to compare how it is to trek in India and how it is here in the US. There its more rustic, with the basic necessities and more of becoming one with the nature. Here you can chose to do it the rustic way (which is what the real trekkies do), but its easier to give in to the fancy parts. Camping with parking right on the campsite, having eatables just a mile drive away and ready-made firewood for a price somehow just doesn't cut it. Its like camping in your own backyard :-p. Though I like it that the forests aren't really "planned" in Karnataka, I am sad that some things are so under-developed. There are so many beautiful spots for trekking/hiking there, yet there is not much encouragement for it. The roads leading to the areas aren't really good and it feels like its in the middle of nowhere. I know I'm being contradictory, but I feel there should be a balance between convenience and the rusticity, so that more people can enjoy the getting closer to nature part :).

2 Comments:


Soumya retorted...

This is great Deeps. Your thought process at the time, the experience of the trek must have been an enlightening phase for you.
Haha, interesting that you had actually kept a record to send to friends. I guess it served the purpose even if it was delayed by 5 years.


vinay_reddy retorted...

i know u
im vinoba tall guy in last snap