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....

********************************************************************************************* Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers *********************************************************************************************
Lilypie Third Birthday tickers *********************************************************************************************

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

BTFYA 3 - Yedukumeri trek :)

Back to 5 years ago :). First of all, this whole post is simply based on the memories I have of the trek, unlike the post for Bisle trek since I didn't really note down anything. I think we went to Yedukumeri in August 2004, but certainly don't remember whether it was before my birthday or after (I guess it was after since I am pretty certain I'd have remembered having banged up knees on my birthday :-D). A little bit of history before we start off. I have always loved the train route between Bangalore and Mangalore. The sad part was that the trains were overnight trips, but I would be awake just to see the tunnels and beautiful bridges on route (it's be a treat whenever there was moonlight, the part between Sakleshpur and Yedekumeri). But sadly, the trains were stopped giving the elusive excuse of metre to broad gauge conversion and the system has only recently gotten back on its feet again.

Well, on the Bisle trek, I did have many chances to interact with fellow trekkies, but there were 28 people, so couldn't obviously talk to everyone. But I did find out about 2 wonderful treks - one to Yedukumeri and another to Kemmannugundi. Once I got back, I think it was one of the things I ALWAYS talked about. I must have troubled many a friend with that tale :-D (in my defense, I was just trying to get them to trek with me :-D). My mom really loved the Bisle saga and told me that if ever I'd go on the trek to Yedukumeri which would be basically walking on the railway track, she wanted to join me, since it'd not really have any climbs and be a flat ground trek. So I kept calling Kamesh to find out when they were planning one.

Finally I got to know there were 3 more takers (all my aged girls) for that particular trek to Yedukumeri, and so we'd be 5 trekkies + Kamesh and his assistants (Raj and Naagu). So we set off one Friday evening from Bangalore Majestic bus stand and caught a bus to somewhere near Sakleshpur (a little further away from Sakleshpur but sadly, I don't even have a clue about the name of the place). I only remember that we landed there at around 4 AM in the morning, setup a tent and slept right there at the bus stop until about 8AM in the morning :-D.

Later got up, walked till we found the railway track and cooked a breakfast of Maggi :-D. We finished brushing our teeth, washing our face, having the breakfast and exploring the bridge until then (if you notice carefully in the following photo, you'll find me and mom somewhere towards the left on the top of the bridge :-D).

Then we started walking. The trek would be totally for about 35km (17.5 km to Yedekumeri and another 17.5 km back)!! And the specialty of this trek was that there was no base camp. We had to carry every damn thing we had and that was a challenge..

That was us at the first tunnel. Walking in a tunnel is somehow very enigmatic, though practically there is nothing mysterious about it ;-). For me, the whole concept is a thrill - we'd make these sand tunnels using our feet when we were young and its amazing that the real ones are actually dug in mountains and make a pathway where there was none earlier :). The first tunnel even had a side opening through which we walked out and saw this beautiful waterfall somewhere in the valley below..

The photo is courtesy of the digital camera of a trekkie from a totally different group :-D. The route has about 19 tunnels and more than 25 bridges, so each one of them, big or small were absolutely enjoyable..

Except one thing about the bridges - they were my downfall, my pain in the neck (actually knees :-p), my nemesis, so to say :-D. It had rained the previous night and that Saturday was still partially cloudy and rainy, so it made the bridge logs pretty slippery. Somehow everyone seemed okay on them except myself :-p. I think I must have slipped and banged my knees on the logs about 5 times that day, so much that I was very scared the next day to even step foot on a bridge, but well, that part of the story has some more time to come ;-). Some of the bridges had an iron strip in the middle, so it was easier to walk on them, but most of them didn't, so the only way to cross the bridge was to cross the gap between each and every log (so we had to be very careful). Which means its very difficult to know whether the next log is slippery, we can only set a firm foot and hope that we would not slip. Well, as for me, I never got the "firm" footing right that day :-D.

Here's another tunnel which has wild banana (kaaDu baaLe) growing on top, almost like nature's very own thOraNa :-D..

I loved it all (despite the torn knees :-D). Thankfully there were no leeches around on the railway track, though we did find some around on the wet mud beside the tracks. Each time I walked through a tunnel I'd be reminded of the saying I have on the bottom part of my blog - "Then it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of your tunnel was just a freight train coming your way!!" (Metallica in their song "No Leaf Clover"). Loved it, loved it, loved it :-D.

On the next bridge, Kamesh picked a spot for us to rappel (!!!) and decided to setup the equipment (yes, they carried the required ropes) then and there. I didn't even know what rappelling was until that particular moment :-p. The concept was pretty simple - they'd tie a set of ropes onto the logs of a railway bridge right next to a pillar and with the help of the pillar and ropes, we had to slowly rappel down. Practically, it was a different story. Yes there'd be a harness, but I was very much afraid to put my full weight on the ropes (I half thought the ropes would break :-p). This photo is just before I did it:

Again, the photo is courtesy of the digital camera of the same from a totally different group and we actually met that group at this point and they also enjoyed rappelling with us (one after one ofcourse :-p) and I remember asking the guy about the camera and finding out that the Olympus digital camera costed Rs. 20000 (that fact left my mouth hanging open :-D). We took several snaps of the deed in our analog camera but well, none of them are that good :-p. Anyways I was petrified at the moment you have let go of your foot from the ledges (the fact that I'm grinning in the photo has nothing to do with it - its actually a I-must-be-crazy-to-be-doing-this grin :-D), but rappelling turned out to be fun :). The ropes were a bit irritating, but cruising down the bridge with no care and then swinging on the ropes like a monkey (:-D) was really a highlight :). We (me and another girl) later had to cross a mini jungle and then climb a hill to get back to the bridge.

Mom was at first very hesitant to even try it. In face she flatly refused to. But Kamesh can be pretty persuasive :-D. So she decided to give it a try and actually did it. Sadly, I only have a blurred snap of her rappelling and thats one of my major regrets. But I can still see her rappelling down if I close my eyes, so the memory is locked in my head forever. I was (and am) oh-so-proud of her :)). She did have some difficulty in climbing back, but she did that too :)). It was one of those my-mom-is-so-cool moments for me :-D. Soon everyone was done and we wrapped everything up.

It actually started raining while we were crossing the next tunnel, so we stopped to have lunch (I think Kamesh and his assistants cooked up a quick meal of Avalakki oggaraNe :-D).

There was another ominous bridge right next to the tunnel and I took the opportunity to take a snap :-D (I think one of the girls actually lost her torch here - I don't know whether it was retrieved, I remember Raj doing some circus antics to get to it). Also I think I even graced this bridge with another of my falls :-p. (BTW see what I mean about the iron strip in some sections? You can see it in this bridge).

We reached the Yedukumeri station by evening. I don't even know whether there was a nearby path to any village or the highway (didn't bother finding out as we were heading out the way we came), but it did feel like there was no civilization around - the station obviously wasn't being used.

For the umpteenth time, the photo is from the same guy from the other group. We freshened up in a nearby stream first - that was fun :). We planned to put up tents on the platform and later cook there, but the rain had other plans. It came down heavily which caused the tent to literally fly and get completely drenched. Well, we had to settle for one of the sheds like the one above where we setup everything, including the place for cooking. As nightfall came in, the rain stopped, but everything was still too wet to set it up outside, so we even cooked inside.

We made pooris together, Kamesh made the bhaaji and we all enjoyed them a lot. I remember singing loads of songs and some of of my favourites - "Kahin door jab din dal jaaye" and "Gul raha he saara manzar" (by Shankar Mahadevan - it really jelled well with the fading sunlight) outside on the platform and feeling blessed for being there. This phrase from "Kahin door" fit my personal situation so well -

"Kabhi Yun Hi Jab Hui Ojhal Saansein
Bhar Aai Baithe Baithe Jab Yun Hi Aankhen
Tabhi Machal Ke Pyar Se Chal Ke
Chhuye Koi Mujhe Par Nazar Na Aaye, Nazar Na Aaye"

The frustration and hope combination was never ever defined so beautifully :). That night we slept with uncomfortable blankets on hard floor, with never tiring conversations, tired and aching bones (I think I even ran a fever for which I took tablets), a running rodent inside our room :-D (all of us ladies were in one room and some of them, not me or mom, actually screamed at the intruder :-D) and Kamesh voice scolding us from another room to get to sleep :-D.

The morning arrived with a beautiful view :).

We finished our morning rituals and I think had some bread for breakfast and set out.

Here is the entire team of 8 people just before we said goodbye to Yedukumeri..

Just after a few minutes of walking, we took a right turn to find this amazing waterfall :).

That was one of the times I felt the need for proper roads to such a place. Only people who knew the place knew that there was a waterfall there. In US, there are smaller waterfalls and they all have trek/hike paths and you can find most on the internet with maps included :-p. Anyways Kamesh setup river-crossing here and this time I was able to complete the entire route and back :).

Even mom went about 3/4th the way :-D. Did I mention how proud I am of her? :-D.

After everyone had their turn, we packed up and started back. At the first bridge, I was scared out of my wits that I'd fall again, but it was sunny and the logs were mostly dry, so we were able to spot the slippery parts and tread around carefully. I didn't fall at all that day and yeah, that was an achievement :-D.

The following is the longest tunnel enroute - 572m.

Everything was perfect until that point, but at about the next tunnel, there was a break in the path that we were treading on and mom, not noticing that, fell and twisted her ankle. Kamesh immediately wrapped her leg in a tight bound bandage and from then on Naagu carried her backpack. I knew she was in lots of pain, and I felt so bad, so terrible and so guilty of not watching out for her. Our pace obviously slowed down after that and we were able to get to the highway only after nightfall.

I remember us waiting for a bus for a long time and then flagging down a lorry. I remember climbing onto the back of that lorry and us girls having a lot of fun jeering at people and behaving like taporis :-D. And I remember that we finally calmed down when the lorry driver requested us to ;-). We got dropped off at Hassan, had our dinner at a hotel and then caught a late night bus to Bangalore. We said our goodbyes early in the morning and scattered back to our own lives with the enriched memories.


1) Mom was okay after a while, but the whole thing bothers me to this day. One new thing I learnt about myself this trek was role reversal. I was used to mom (in general, my parents) worrying about me all the time. But for the first time, it was the other way around. I worried whenever she walked on the bridges (even though I was the one falling), when she rappelled and river crossed. Later when she hurt her leg, I felt like a mother hen clucking around her chick :-D. It felt like a taste of what parents go through everyday when they wait for their children to come home and worry about their well-being constantly. Well, a very good beginning to whats going on now ;-). And mom was wonderful, she wanted to join me on a Kemmannugundi trek if I went on one and she even tried to convince dad to :-D.

2) I'm so glad we made it to the trek when we did. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to before the train service restarted, but we made it. They have the trains back on now and I believe they have day-trains these days, so it would be fun to ride on one and see a glimpse of the route again :). But thats in turn bad news for the trekkies, its certainly hard to walk on the bridges or tunnels confidently when you know a train can come in anytime (even if you know the train timings - Indian standard time delays :-D).

3) The trek was a test to my and all of our endurance. We had to carry stuff and walk, walk and walk. I found out that we can push our bodies to do things and it was an achievement of some sort. I found out that the more we go on, the more we wanted to go on, the more our determination and strength grew. I remember feeling victorious and invincible when it was over and couldn't wait to get back. But as you see, fate had other plans.. (To be continued)..


Sid retorted...

This is a wonderful trek and I have read so many of them online but it never ceases to amaze me. Walking on a deserted railway track along with empty stations on the way is so fun!
Nice entry there.

Deeps retorted...

Sid, I don't think there are any stations between Sakleshpur and Yedukumeri, basically because the region is very hilly (hence the tunnels and bridges). And the views of the hills and valleys are what make the trek so exciting :).

Soumya retorted...

Wow! That is one hell of a trek. I remember seeing your rappelling photo earlier, don't know where. Hats off to your mom, she's a total sport. And you are as adventurous as ever. I am glad how everything turned out for you, that you could make this trek before things took a new turn.
The bridges look scary though. I am a total chicken when it comes to heights, even worse if there's water below.