Sunday, 28 October 2012

Nagala South Peak Trek

I have been trekking with CTC for the last one year. But I have never been to Nagala , the homeground of CTC. When I decided I have to go to Nagala , CTC temporarily cancelled trekking to Nagala . I had to wait nearly 2 months for the Nagala Trek. When I got the email from Brijesh for the Nagala Trek, I immediately registered. After registering, I informed Varun that he can also register. He was showing some interest towards trekking and asked me to inform when I go for the next trek. Funny world you see. He got selected for the trek but I didn't . I thought I had to wait for the next trek to Nagala. But Varun kept pestering me and asked me to join this trek somehow. I emailed Brijesh that if somebody is withdrawing in the last moment , then he can consider me. Luckily somebody withdrew and I came in.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Udayagiri Trek

I was expecting the combo biking and trek for a while. That was when I got an email from Arun. Without even reading the complete details, I registered for this. Then only I saw in the email that it is a 1 day trip covering 600 km and a trek. First I wondered if this is a good plan. But then thought if 10 other people can drive for that distance, then I can also do that. Probably every other person would have thought the same way.

Lines from Wiki
The Udayagiri Hills is the main tourist attraction here and is mingled with history. The hill is mentioned in the Ramayana, where Hanuman carried the hill to Lanka for a rare herb called as Sanjeevini, which is found on this hill, to cure Lakshman. After serving its purpose, the hill was supposedly thrown by Hanuman from a great height into the same place. The hill landed upside down, and till this day one can find many boulders strewn around the hill. Also it is believed that some trees grow upside down too! The hill has crystal clear water flowing downhill from an unknown source, which till date has not been found

Start from Guindy at 3:45 AM. Reach Udayagiri. Trek. Ride back and reach Chennai by night. That was the plan. Before I could reach Guindy, I got a call from Muthu saying 'You are late. Please can you come directly to Koyambedu Nathan's cafe'. When reached there, I met some 10 people and as usual 'Hi .. Hi .. Hi ..' to everybody. We waited there till 5 AM for everybody to assemble.

It was 6 bikes and 2 cars. 2 Apaches, a pulsar, fz, classic, a bird, punto and a spark. Arun started first and we all raised our pace to match with him. Me in my Apache, Sivaraj in Pulsar, Prakash in his bird , Rahul & Ajay in fz and sharon in classic were riding along. Punto and spark being the sweepers. There was one place where some insect went into my eyes and I stopped for 2 minutes. After that i was riding in a good pace for around 30 minutes but still couldn't catch the fellas who were riding with me. I was sure that they couldn't be ahead of me and I stopped near a toll gate for tea. Came Mohideen, Vijay and gang in Punto after some 10 minutes. Then again after 10 minutes, came the riders. Then only I came to know that these guys waited for me when I stopped because of the insect hit. Wonder how I missed them. But it was very nice of them. Biker brotherhood you see !!

After everybody had chai, we started again. Not to forget, some guy in the gang ate some 10-20 biscuits in that petty shop. Evannu therila. Then it was ride, ride and more ride till we reached Nellore. It was freaking fun riding in the highways, that too in tandem. Me and Sivaraj were zooming past each other. At that moment When I thought, Good that I didn't come in the car, I remember this quote 'If Driving is Dreaming , Riding is Living'.

We all met near Nellore Bus stand where Arun and Shubha were waiting for us. Checked into some hotel and living life the perfect south-indian way. I think by 9AM we started from Nellore and still 100 km more. It was necessary to reach Udayagiri as soon as possible, so that we can complete the trek and return on time. Mostly everybody reached Udayagiri around the same time with the exception of Emmanuel's Gang in Spark. We waited for them near the Udayagiri Bridge and started after they arrived. We reached a road which has never seen tar in its life. We rode in that and parked our bikes and cars near some rocky steps leading to the top.

The start of the trek was like walking in tirupati where proper steps were there. Wonder who built that and for what purpose. We were walking in normal pace only but still half the team were coming far behind. We crossed a group of telugu boys and sharon showed his telugu skills by speaking some dialogues that he remembered when watching some Balakrishna movie :P

We reached half the distance and decided that we regroup and then move ahead. By the time others came, we finished off the pongal and Kichidi we had packed and decided to start from there. So it was Arun, Shubha, Muthu, Sivaraj, Ajay, Raghul and me. We started ahead and walked in a brisk pace. Never we rested. There was a small mosque kind of structure in the top. Awesome bird's view of the town. we rested there for a while and started clicking some Pics. Munch and Airbag. Purinjavan Sirichikko !!

When we were about to return from the top, we saw 3 guys in the adjacent hill. They went in some wrong route it seems. We saw the rest of the group when we were returning from the top. Arun informed everybody not to spend too much time after reaching the top, as it would get dark by the time we would return. The return was quite pacy and on the way, we saw a cannon-throw place which was part of the fort. We waited there for regrouping and in a while most of the group reached that place.

We all started from there and exactly by 6 PM, we were at the base where we parked our bikes and cars. We all were relieved that we were back on time but still another 300 km drive was on the cards.

Reached Nellore and nobody had any idea where to halt, how to regroup and what's the plan for dinner. But hunger pushed everybody to the same restaurant where we had breakfast. So after a heavy meal, it was time for a good sleep. But we have to ride. We regrouped after every toll gate and reached Padi by around 12:30 AM. I just don't have the count how many times I was caught by police after that. Atleast 7 times. I thought only IT people had this pathetic night shift job.

The Trip was over. 600 km drive and 5 hours Trek. And the satisfaction it gave me was immense. It definitely gives me the confidence to go for more. The trip lasted for only 21 hours. So I couldn't mingle with each and everyone in the group and hear about some crazy stuff. But it was nice to know about fellow freaks like Arun, Ajay, Rahul, Sivaraj, Shubha, Muthu and the list goes on. Also I should mention about Radhakrishnan sir, who showed good spirit. He is a good example that age is not a criterion for trekking and biking.

Ride to Live !!
Happy Trekking !!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Venkatagiri Trek

After the fitness test in pallavaram hills, we had the shortlisted members. It was 23 people and 4 cars. That was the plan. To start from Chennai Friday midnight and reach back Sunday Night. So I went to Guindy at 12 AM and met few people there. Then I Picked up 3 IIT kids and headed straight to Koyambedu. It was raining very heavily on the way to Koyambedu. After reaching Koyambedu only, I came to know that we were actually 19 people and only 3 cars. It seems others have pulled out. So 5 in My Ikon, 5 in Tirth's Indica and 9 in Bala's Safari. Bit of introductions started here and then we all started driving. Bala to lead, Me in the middle and Tirth to be the sweeper.

Came the FIRST JERK. My Cars driver-side Wiper broke off and it was raining damn heavily. I couldn't see a bit. For sometime I was managing with the other wiper and alternatively used cloth and reached outside for the glass to clean, to get atleast some view of the vehicle going in front. But it became difficult for me. Came Arul in the front seat who was till now sitting behind. I call him 'Man who can't say NO to anything'. He was giving me the directions - 'Leftla paathu Leftla Paathu' , 'Rightla lorry.. Leftla vaanga' , 'Side Side Side' .. But still even after him telling and me wiping through one hand and driving with another, I could sense the drive was not stable. But I seriously wondered how the 3 IIT kids sitting behind could debate about quantum physics when their life is in 50:50 Mode :P I Appreciate you guys for the confidence you had in me. Then what. The other wiper which was working also stopped working. I told Arul 'I can't drive now. It is very risky. We will wait and then start after it stops raining'. This guy didn't tell a word and he just put his ass in the window and started leaning in the glass and moving the wiper. And it was still raining heavily. But i got a clear view of the road and kept on driving. We were laughing, driving and it was fun. One more name to Arul's Kitty - 'Man with balls'.

Along with all these happenings, it was Bala and Bala who were trying all possible solutions for driving a car in rain without wiper. They first tried oil on the glass. Then they tried applying shampoo and then they applied soap. Innovation you see. Only in need, you are compelled to innovate.

So after some 1-2 hours, it stopped raining. Now the SECOND JERK. Tirth's Car got punctured. So we all returned to the place where their car was parked. And we all were surprised to hear that they lost the spare wheel when they were trying to replace the tyre. In the meantime, Many slept in the highway itself (First it was Bala and Murali). We searched for the tyre till the sunrise, in the bushes nearby but in vain. Now the plan, Tirth and Amrita will tow their vehicle for getting a new tyre and return back to chennai. So now the team has shrunk. 17 members and 2 cars. 6 in Ikon and 11 in safari. I am quite sure, even if the Ikon had been punctured that time, we all 17 would have went in safari :P


So after locating the place, we got the help of a localite for parking the cars and he was showing us the route till the base. It looked quite a dry place full of thorns and bushes. Now all set for the trek, we all started walking. I could sense some urgency in Bala's face. He kept on pushing everyone 'Guys Fast Fast' . 'Keep moving Keep moving'. It was Murali and Uncle Bala who were coming last and they were dehydrated and very tired even before reaching the first halt (1/3rd of total distance). But it was Ravi who kept pushing them that they can make it. It is this optimism which makes a person differ from normal beings. We all were totally drenched when reaching the first halt. It was humid, no wind and sunny.

We all started again.Now Murli and Bala have energised themselves. From this patch there was mild wind and breeze. Mostly everybody were refreshed and started clicking pictures and posing. We moved at a brisk pace and reached the second halt. It was somewhat at the base of the fort. That was a nice place to relax. From there we could see the peak. 

We started trekking to the peak which was quite steep and there were many loose rocks. So we made sure there is some considerable gap between 2 people. We reached the peak and it was such an amazing feeling after a strenuous effort. Added to that the wind. It was very heavy and the force was pushing us . It was damn good. I never expected anything out of this place. But it was just beautiful place to spend a night.

Bala was helped by Hari, Pratik , Arun , Alagappan , Raja to make the tarpaulin as tents. I will not say tents. It was a 2-layered mat, so that we can sleep in between. Then the best part - FOOD. Raja , Bala and Ravi prepared soupy noodles first and an awesome biryani with pakoda as side-dish. Well done guys. By the time we finished dinner, it became very cold. Me and Hari were the first ones to roll inside the tarpaulin and sleep. Though many in the morning said that they couldn't sleep properly, I had a very nice sleep. After all it's been 2 days since I slept. 

Morning. The Culprit was Burma Bala. He just shouted TEA. I was in no mood to getup at all. But thought, i'll have the tea and then sleep for a while. Even Hari got up with me. We looked for the tea like a dog searching for a pole. Despair :(

The winds now were even more strong and we all posed some group photos and then we got down to a cliff patch nearby and clicked lot of pictures there. In the meantime, Bala and Arul prepared Tea and Noodles. Let me not forgot Malinga, Varaprasad, Alagappan and Arun who went to fetch water from the source. Needs so much patience to fill water dropping from there.

Now packed all the stuffs and ready to head back. The return was pacy.We never stopped anywhere till we reached the base. Here comes the NEXT JERK. Nobody knew the route from the base to the Exit. It was Bala leading and Ravi sweeping and we all weeping :P
Though we couldn't figure out the correct way, we figured out that we were in the wrong way. Wherever Bala found a trail, he moved on keeping the mountain as a reference point. After a while, we found a jeep trail and just followed that. In some half hour, we were there at the exit. Relief !!

Cars are still there. More Relief !!
Then we all headed to the pumpset for taking a dip.  Awesome it was. Very refreshing. So Packed all the stuffs and all set to head back to chennai.
Came the LAST JERK. Bala tried to reverse his car. But Safari's tyres were like 30% inside the surface. It rained that night, so the place was marshy. We tried our level best to push the car out, but the best we can do was to break the waterguard in the window ;)

First we tried lifting the car using the jack and put some dry leaves under the tyre. But in the meantime, some villagers came with iron roads and equipments to help us. They cut the surface just behind the tyres. After heavy effort, the car came outside. At last. 

We had put all our seats in the seats and then started our journey. I could just laugh and say 'what is going to be the Next Jerk ?'. We stopped in an awesome place for dinner :P (Recommended by Ravi). It was a combo of Restaurant (for humans) and Lodge (for dogs) ;)

By 11, we reached Koyambedu. It was time to part our ways. We wished everybody goodluck and headed back home. 

We know some people for 10-20 years, still don't understand them. But we meet some people for just 1 or 2 days and get to know about them nicely. How true it is. That is the beauty of the trek. By Human nature, we bond with people more, only in difficult situations. I hope you all get so many difficult situations in your life and make some 'friends for life' out of it :P

Happy trekking people :)

P.S -  The day we started for the trek, I got my offer letter from HCL. Though I don't believe in sentiments. I can just say Venkatagiri trip was memorable to me for this reason also.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Chennai- Bangalore - Wayanad - Chembra Trek

Unlike other trips, this one was planned just a day before. It all started with planning to freak out somewhere discussion . We just wanted to go somewhere just to kill time. Manju was the one who initiated the trip conversation and started suggesting some place. And then it was Aro who has his favourite lines whenever i ask about a trip - 'aaaa ... anywhere yaar'. So after googling for 2-3 days i decided that we are going to Skandagiri near bangalore. It looked like one awesome place and I was so happy that we are heading towards that.
Good that I posted about this trip in Facebook. It was Giri who informed that trekking to Skandagiri is banned from Dec 2011 after an accident there. So we had to change the plans. It was again Giri who suggested to go to wayanad for a biking trip from Bangalore.

So this was the plan.
Friday Evening 4 PM - Start from Chennai to bangalore
Saturday Morning 6 AM - Start from Bangalore to Wayanad
Sunday Evening 3 PM - Start from Wayanad to Bangalore
Monday Morning 6 AM - Start from Bangalore to Chennai

This looked like a hectic plan but I thought we can make it. Just hours before we started only, Aro got to know that we are not going to skandagiri but we are heading to Wayanad. Aro's roommate Pandey also joined us. So the plan was to go in bike - My Apache RTR 180 and Aro's FZ-S. But last minute, I thought 1400 km will burn some kg's of our ass. Considering Aro has only grams left :P So we planned to go from Chennai to Bangalore in Car and from  Bangalore to Wayanad in bike.

So as usual, Aro was late by one hour. Me, Aro and Pandey started from here in car and Manju will join us in Bangalore. Manju will be arranging one more bike for us from Bangalore for the trip. Me and Aro were driving in tandem till we reached Bangalore. And we reached Manju's Friend's house in Doomasandra at around 12:30 AM where he arranged for our stay .

We had an awesome sleep there and again we were 1 hour late to start. We started by 7. 4 people. Me, Aromal, Manjunath and Pandey. 2 Bikes. FZ-S and Avenger. It was fun to drive in the Bangalore-Mysore Highway.

On our way from Bangalore to Mysore, came the first jerk. FZ's rear tyre burst some 15 km after Mandya. Me and Manju went back some 3 km to find a puncture shop. Then we hired a tempo and took the bike to that shop.  That mechanic told that we have to go to Mandya to buy the tyres. We went and bought the tyre and for fixing and all, it took some 1.5 hours. The journey began again.

We were supposed to reach Mysore by 11 AM but because of the tyre burst, we reached there at around 1:30 PM. So our target now was to reach Wayanad before 5PM. Nobody were in a mood to have lunch. We just wanted to cross the Bandipur checkpost before 6 PM, because after that bikes are not allowed. It was drizzling and cloudy when we crossed Gundlupet where we took some clicks near the flower estate.

Some 30 minutes  after Gundlupet, we crossed the Bandipur Checkpost. Sigh of relief !! Never thought the forest roads would be that beautiful. It was the Perfect Place for a drive.

Some half hour after driving inside the forest, we reached the Kerala checkpost. First time i am stepping into Mammooty's state. And within a minute it started raining there. And I started shouting at Aro - 'You people get lot of rains and are never short of water. Why don't you give some water to the land of deprived'. From Aro's look I understood that he is not a relative of Omen Chandy.

The forests became more dense, Green became greener and trousers became lungis. I see every man smoking a cigarette and every women freshly dressed in a dull sandal coloured saree, which looked so graceful. We reached Sultan Bathery town (Wayanad district) at around 4:30 PM and had lunch there. Never a big fan of Parotta, we all decided that we just want something which can be served quickly.So we ordered Kerala Parotta. Believe me or not , it was THE BEST parotta I have ever had. Parotta, Chicken Kurma and Rava Laddu. What a combination !!

From there , we wanted to go to Enteveedu (A resort kind of homestay that we booked) near a place called Nadavayal. Aro opened his mouth for the first time to ask the route to Enteveedu. Home state you see !!
He spoke in Malayalam to a guy and asked him 'I want to go to Enteevedu'. That guy gave a weird look and started laughing. (Enteveedu in Malayalam means 'My Home' it seems). Then Aro was quick to understand atleast now and told him that the name of that place is Enteveedu. After many ups and downs and turns, we reached Enteveedu at 6 PM. Not a single straight road i saw in the last 30-40 km. We just saw a board Enteveedu but when we hopped inside the gate , it was like a private forest. We kept on going inside and there was an amazing home in the middle of that forest. We just had to say only one thing. Wow man !!

We checked into the room and it was a lavish place for just a one night stay.  Seriously we never felt the tiredness of the drive. Then we all had dinner and it was a native keralite food and we all loved it. My favourite was the light pink warm water that they served.

We then went into the room and started planning for the next day. This is the plan. We start from there at 6:30AM and reach Chembra base at 7:30 AM (The gates for chembra peak open that time only). Then we trek to Chembra peak and reach back the base at 2 PM. From there we reach Soochipara falls at 2:30 PM. Spend half hour there and start our way to Bangalore.

As usual, we were one hour late and started by 7:30 AM. We packed our stuffs and Seetha Aunty (Enteveedu) gave a printout of the route map which we have to take . Driving is such a pleasure in pleasant cool mornings. After some half hour drive, Aro told to stop the bike and he needs to search something. It seemed like he has lost his mobile. Mobile was not found in the bag. He and Pandey again went back to Enteveedu and searched the place. But :( So this trip also Aro has lost something. Last trip to Goa it was his new Nex -5 Camera and this trip his mobile. As expected, he delivered his favourite dialogue 'I don't loose things, Things get lost. What can I do ?'. Then what. My Favourite lines 'Chalo Chalo. It's getting late' :P
We headed from there and reached Chembra base at around 9 AM. First time I was seeing a tea estate. The scene was picturesque. We took an Entry pass for the trek at the Forest office. It was 500 bucks for a maximum of 10 people. We Parked the bike in that tea estate and started trekking.

It was a normal walk till we reached the watch tower. The real trek started from there. We were informed that we can go only till the Heart lake and not to the chembra peak. The guides said it was raining in that place, so it is very slippery and it will be risky if we go there now. We started walking between the bushes and in the rocks. It was not a difficult terrain but some places were very slippery. The mountain water that we had there was cool and our tiredness was vanished in seconds. First we reached to a small lake surrounded by beautiful meadows. From there we reached to the Heart lake. 

We saw some people who were coming down from the top. We asked the guide 'How come only those people can go ?'. So he agreed that we guys can go there but have to come back in 30 minutes. We again ascended and in minutes, we were able to see clouds below us. We clicked some pictures there. The purpose of coming to this far was achieved and we started descending. We had a good view of the Heart lake from the top. We know the descent will be fast but it was slippery. The first one to fall was Manju. Then I followed him. 

I had a feeling that we were a bit late to start and we will not have time for soochipaara falls. But when we were descending, we saw a lot of people climbing only at that time. There was a good bunch of hot chicks. Now, I had a feeling that we were a bit early for the trek :P

We reached the base by around 12:30 PM and that was way early than what we expected. We headed directly for lunch to a place called Meppadi and again same parotta. But this time, it was not that great. Probably we were not that hungry. After lunch, straight to Soochipaara falls. We reached the falls at around 2 PM. It was so refreshing to see Pure white water flowing with so much force. We entered the water and it was damn slippery and pointed rocks. Manju didn't come inside water. So we made him the security to look after the bags, dress and for clicking Pics.

After walking, swimming and finally crawling, we reached and sat under the waterfall. Not Literally under !! Just one word to describe. Mindblowing !! We Purely enjoyed the time and came out in a while. We never realized the time was 3:30 PM then. Manju was already shouting 'Guys it will be late  and we have to cross the kerala checkpost by 6 PM.' After having an awesome butter milk, we headed on our way to Bangalore.

Me and Aro were zooming our way so that we can reach the kerala checkpost before 6 PM. According to my calculations, we should be there at the checkpost by 5 PM. And we were exactly at the checkpost at 5. And just before the Checkpost office , the Avenger i was driving wobbled and i shouted 'Aro, Manju .. Stop .. Stop .. Bike Punctured' :( We did not know what to do. And the police in the checkpost told I have to go back 6 km for the puncture shop. Immediately me and Manju went and reached the puncture shop in some 15 minutes. We took a jeep from there and came again to the checkpost to carry the bike. Somehow we lifted the bike and put inside the jeep. The Checkpost police told 'I will allow you to cross the checkpost if you come before 9 PM'. We thought we can easily make it. But just some 1 or 2 Km before reaching the puncture shop, there was a heavy traffic jam. People just stand head to head and wait for the other to move. And there was Battle of the states. KA vs KL. Ego. Pure Ego. 

It took  some 1 hour from there to reach the puncture shop. In the meantime, the jeep driver was scaring us. His words 'Nobody crosses this checkpost in bike after 6 PM. You guys must be crazy. Elephants go wild after 6 PM and they even attack Jeeps and Lorries. It is better you guys go back and stay in wayanad and return the next day. But if at all you want to go, then just catch some lorry and keep going slowly behind that'. The Lorries can cross the checkpost till 9 PM and after that they are also not allowed. 

It was 7:45 PM we reached the puncture shop. Those mechanics found it very tough to remove the tyre itself. I thought it was not possible for us to cross the checkpost considering it is risky too. But here is the problem. Me, Aro and Manju are working in the same project. Whatever happens, atleast one person should be working among us on a weekday. The mechanic showed me the tube and it was torn. He informed he can't put a patch on the tube and the tube has to be replaced. And we have to go back 50 km to buy a tube. It was already 8 and on a sunday. There was no point in going back and buying now. I told the mechanic to keep the bike with him and we will come and take it the next day. We decided to go back to wayanad. But the mechanic told 'You can't keep the bike here. Please take it'. I had no idea what to do. He asked me 'Can I do One thing. I have a hero honda bike tube but that will not fit the Avenger's tyre. But I will adjust and give it to you. It is upto you to decide now'. I told him 'Ok fine. Do it fast'. Still we were in a dilemma whether to go ahead or go back. Bike was ready at 8:30. It will take atleast 30 minutes to reach the checkpost now, considering the tyre's condition. We were positive that somehow we can reach the checkpost by 9 and from there catch a lorry and just  follow that. Just one fear. If something happens to bike in the middle of the forest, then we are gone. But we decided to move ahead.

The Jeep wala was a nice guy and he immediately called one of his friend who is a lorry driver crossing the forest in a while.He informed us 'My friend has a lorry and he is waiting for you guys after the checkpost. You guys start now and catch the lorry before 9. Then put your bikes in the lorry and cross the forest and get down in Gundlupet. I have informed him. What you guys say'. Though I never believe anybody just like that, We liked the idea of travelling in a lorry at night for crossing the forest. We accepted and moved ahead. We saw the lorry in some 15 minutes. It was a tough time loading the bikes in the lorry but some nice drunkards came and helped us. 

It took some 1 or 2 hours for the lorry to reach Gundlupet. Whenever the lorry is about to cross a Checkpost, the cleaner used to shout 'Guys .. Guys .. Down .. Down ..' As if we were smuggling some sandalwoods or Marijuana. The lorry stopped near a hotel in Gundlupet. We unloaded the bikes there and stepped into the Hotel. And again parotta. This time we were damn hungry. So obviously it was good. It was 11 PM and we started from Gundlupet.It was drizzling and some flies were hitting the eyes. But we had no other option but to drive. After some 3 hours, I was driving like I had a cocaine effect. I can't open my eyes properly but still can't close. I was damn sleepy. Then I told Manju, 'for sure I can't drive now, better you drive'. So finally we reached Bangalore at around 4 AM in the morning. We decided to have a good sleep and get up relaxed and drive home.

We started from bangalore at around 10 AM. Checked into Krishna Inn near Krishnagiri for breakfast. Had hot pongal and vada and a filter coffee. Life was good the south Indian way :) But we had no money to Pay and they didn't accept card. I told Aro and Pandey 'I will go and get the money from ATM. You guys wait here'. Aro's Response 'I have heard this dialogue in many movies'.

Then heading fast straight to home, we thought the car deserved atleast one pic. We stopped outside the Madras war Cemetry in Nandambakkam and clicked one pic and by 5 PM we were home. 

< Chennai - Bangalore - Mysore - Gundlupet - Wayanad > 1350 KM.

Now back to the artificial life !!