Bangalore Mountaineers club, of which I am a member, arranges treks and hikes to several mountains in Karnataka. Last weekend (Dec 22-23) we hiked Thadiyandamol peak in Coorg. Srik and I met up at MG Road which was one of the pickup points. 30 People from various backgrounds, unknown to each other sharing this experience together was an interesting aspect of life that I did not want to miss.
We reached the base camp at 7:45 AM. There was slight confusion in finding the place due to some miscommunication. I spoke to few localities for getting directions to the Palace, which was our base camp.
We freshened up and had a quick breakfast. At 8:15 AM we started our hike up the mountain. 6 or 7 of us moved forward. It was an amazing view out there. My poetic mind had found limits at place such as this; Wild flowers hiding from the humans; mist’s romance with the earth, as though symbolizing the mixture of earth and the skies.
On the way I spoke to few villagers and as usual enjoyed my interactions with other members. Business analysts to game designers to software engineers to professors were all there. Village kids walk about 3 kms for school; and in between all that spectacular view of the mountains.
We reached summit at about 10:50Am. It was 2.5 hours hike; beautiful and amazing. I embraced the excellent view there. Slowly the entire group was up there, except few others who were tired; met other groups who were camping. The feeling that is attained after reaching the peak is simply unexplainable.
We started back after an hour and reached base camp in a time of 1.5 hours. We visited the palace. It’s a neat palace spoilt by negligence but now reformed. People had painted over the beautiful paintings on the walls which later were recovered partially by the archeology department through chemical treatment. A Film shooting team has created their own art work on the walls for some song. Luckily now there has been awareness to protect this monument. I noticed the old tiles of 1883 bought from Mangalore. King had built a Kalyana matapa for his sister’s wedding. The palace is supposed to have a secret room in the third floor to which no one is allowed now. It is also true that it was here that the king was captured by the British.
We left to Kabini at 4:00 PM. We had food in between, in a very small village. Again there was some miscommunication that led the driver to go to Kerala border. We reached campsite at 11:00PM instead of 7:00 PM. Even after reaching there we had some confusion. There was a road block so we had to walk for another kilometer, carrying all the tent and stuff. Leader sent few girls and cooking materials in a sumo. We walked to the campsite led by few villagers.
Our campsite was near the kabini backwaters. BMC has leased out the land from forest dept. Elephants were already there. They were happily moving around and bathing in water. We set up campfire, pitched the tents and found out that the team that drove in Sumo is missing. They have landed on other side of the backwaters, almost 10 km’s away. Another miscommunication! By the time they reached, it was 1:00Am. After which the villagers started cooking for us. We started baking papads. Vegetables and chicken barbeque began. There was a fight too in between to maintain safe distance between veg and nonveg sticks. :-)
Few people got really angry for poor organizing. They slept hungry and angry. By the time food was ready it was 4:00 AM. This was first time in my life; I was having dinner at 4:00 AM. And the food, it was horribly spicy….toooooo hot. Had quick food and went to bed.
Next morning when I got up at 7:30 AM, the sun was out. It was a beautiful sight. I took a walk, with few others. It is interesting to notice that how we adjust to certain environment. I never thought I could stay for two full days without bathing and manage without proper sanitary arrangements. But it’s all in the mindset, I guess. It’s how we learn to survive even without these things, and well it’s not difficult at all.
We had breakfast prepared by the villagers. We were supposed to go for coracle rides but there seemed to be nothing happening. A middle aged lady, who is a professor, spoke to leader to start off something. Finally the coracle rides started off. Speaking to villagers was fun. They shared their thoughts, their views. They were disappointed that they could speak all local languages but not English; they thought the modern education system is much higher than what they had studied; few shared their memories of a major kannada film shot there (Gandada Guddi). The villagers have built tree houses and they stay awake all night to guard their home and fields from the elephants.
We had good lunch, this time I sat by the villagers to make sure they do not make it spicy. It was interesting to notice several villagers involved in this cooking. They were fighting, agreeing and disagreeing. Rice, Sambhar, Sabji and Papad were a treat.
We left To Nagarahole National park at 4:00PM; reached there at 6:00PM. I was pretty sure that we will miss this safari as I had very well planned my previous trip to Coorg, were I had enquired the park timings and last safari, so we obviously were too late and missed the last safari.
We returned back to Bangalore at 12:38 AM.
No matter what the miss happenings were, it was an amazing experience for me to hike and camp, with strangers who later became good friends. To be on a trekking itself is a treat and you are ready to ignore any miss planning. To me, the moments spent during the trip were more special than anything.
Finally by the end of the day, the beautiful mountains, spectacular views, interesting team members and helpful and innocent villagers out do all the negatives. It was an amazing trekking experience.