Friday, July 13, 2007

Trekking at Wayanad

Disclaimer: The sole reason for this trip not being a bike trip is Ashu and only Ashu. Period

We have been thinking of a bike trip to Wayanad for a long time now. So finally we decided to go for biking to Wayanad and a trekking/camping to Chemra peak. Apparently all the participants of the trek were not very keen to bike till Wayanad. They were interested only in the trek and wanted to go there in a hired four-wheeler. We came to a mutual agreement that me and Ashu will go on our respective bikes and others will go in a Qualis.

Me and Ashu were supposed to leave by 8 PM and halt at Mysore for night. I even talked to Bhatiya in Mysore for accommodation at his place. When I was all set to go, I get this sweet little doubt from Ashu that can we go in qualis as he is not very confident with the condition of his bike. @#$%@#$%. I called KP if he can arrange for place for 2 people in the vehicle. After sometime I got Roger from KP. We were all set to leave by 10 PM in qualis :( when I received one more call from Ashu. Apparently he got his bike checked by a mechanic and was ready to go on bike. I was like what the hell! It was really difficult convincing KP now. So we had to go in this cage all thanks to Ashu. I know I know Ashu must be getting mad at me by now but it's OK :D.

Finally we left Bangalore by 11 PM.

Riding (oops driving :D) in a cage has its own pros also. You can listen to loud music, chit chat, see a movie, joke around, eat and drink, etc during the journey. After sometime, we were all half-asleep. Nothing much to tell about the drive which was quite un-eventful unlike bike rides. By morning 5, we were moving througoh the foggy roads to enter Kalpetta. We decided to have a nap before proceeding to the plans so took a hotel room and dozed off. By 9 AM, we were good to go. Had breakfast usual idli/dosa/vada and drived towards Chemra peak. We had to take permission from the forest officer for trekking and camping in that area. On enquiry from the forest office, we came to know that it was fire season. i.e. vegetation has dried out and the forest was prone to jungle fires. In case of any such mishap, it would be difficult to come back safely and hence, we were denied the permission. What now ? :(

I remembered that Kartik and his friends did trekking in some route in Wayand 2 weeks back. I called him and got details of this Guide called Thomas. We called Thomas and soon we were driving towards his home. Thomas is a local farmer and stays near Meenmutty falls. He guided Kartik and the gang in the trek. By 1 PM we were all ready with our backpacks and tents for the trek! :) Our driver Hemanth was also interested and he too joined us in the trek.

We were all in high spirits. Starting was easy. We had to descent on the steep hill till the Meenmutty falls and then continue the descent till Neelambur where we would camp for the night. Everyone joking around and following Thomas. There were some really dangerous patches in till Meenmutty falls but we crossed them easily.

By the time we reached falls, we were tired but a look at the refreshing falls took it all away. We were told by Thomas that this fall is in three stages and we will see other stage on the way. We took some snaps and were back on the trail.

Now comes the tough time. The trail was really very difficult. There were steps of half your size sometimes in vertical and sometimes in horizontal direction. You miss one step and deep gorge is waiting for you! No phone signal nothing. Sometimes it was real scary with a steep descent, absolutely nothing to get a hold for feet or hands and a nice gurgling stream falling deep down on your left. One cannot afford to lose concentration! And I had this stupid heavy backpack with tent also. My idea of trek was to "walk on 2 legs" so I did not care much about the weight of the backpack but here it was "walk/crawl/jump/hang and use all fours"!

But the place was amazing. We could see deep down at the valley and were hoping to reach there before dark to setup the camp. There were not much photo sessions on the way because no one cared about photos anymore and were interested in reaching the place asap and some of useven thinking about the steep ascent we have to do next day :D. We stoppped in between at a stream to drink water and refill our bottles. We were carrying a lot of water but we almost exhausted that. After few hours (don't ask me exact number) we entered a somewhat plain area and a dense jungle. It will soon be dark and Thomas urged us to move faster as it will be very difficult to set up camp in dark near a waterhole where wild elephants come to quench their thirst! Manish started to fatigue and it was not possible to move any faster. Then Thomas told that by this pace we cannot reach our campsite and we will have to camp in the jungle itself. We got off the trail and started moving towards the sound of the gushing stream.

This off-trail trek was even more difficult on the steep slope full off damp dried leaves. There was no hold for feet and we almost slided down following Thomas. In few minutes we were at the stream. I was the first to reach there after Thomas. I kept my backpack there (Oh what a relief!) and we started exploring the options for the campsite. Thomas suggested to camp on a rock which was right in the middle of the stream. The idea did not look very much enticing to me as there was nothing to secure the tent and if someone rolls over then whole tent plus people inside will plunge into the roaring stream :).

There was a small area beside the stream full of thorny bushes, small plants, stones and pebbles. We thought of clearing that and setting up camp there. To reach here, we had to cross the stream and Thomas did a very good job of building a makeshift bridge over the stream using logs. Thomas started cutting off bushes from the campsite and me and Abhishek (Fart) took a dip in the refreshing stream. We cleaned the place as much as we could and erected the tents before it got dark. We were so very much tired and hungry!

Thomas started a fire and I heated all the MTR food. We mixed everything (rice, pulaao, daal, rajma) in one big bowl and ate it quickly. Even the MTR food tasted like a gourmet meal :). We sat down and chatted for sometime in dark listening to the flowing stream and feeling the eerie silence of the jungle. Thomas made his bed near the campfire and rest 8 of us including Hemanth got into the two tents. There were still stones on the ground but we slept like a baby even on the stone bed after a tiring day!

Morning light and chirping of birds made us get out of bed. The place was so beautiful in the morning!

Had some busicuits/Breads and packed our tents/slepping bags etc. By 8:30 AM we were ready for the ascent. In the beginning, we moved swiftly. Climbing up seemed easier than climbing down but the notion was proved not entirely right after about mid way. Thank God, Ashu barely missed a near-slip-and-valley-waits-for-you moment.

I cannot tell the amazing feeling when the road was visible! I almost ran to it :). Soon we were at Thomas' place. Our driver, Hemanth swore that he will never go for trekking after this :D. We ate breads with jam and ghee given by Thomas. HE also treated us with the best butter milk we ever had. After freshening up at his place, we bid him goodbye. We threw our bodies in the qualis and left the place.

Drive was normal. Same music, everybody just wanted to reach back home. We stopped at Mysore for food. After filling our bellies with some real good biryani, we left for Bangalore. Managed to take a nap before stopping at Maddur for tea. Before dinner time, I was at my door. This was the toughest trek I ever did but would have been even more wonderful if we would have ridden to the place :D.


10th Mar - 11th Mar 2007

Bangalore - Mysore - Guldlupet - Kalpetta

Meenmutty Falls - Neelambur

Night stay at tents near Neelambur.
Guide: Thomas. Ph No. 9947598935, 04396217290(PP), 04396218263(PP)
Guide charges: 1200/- (total 7 people)

More pics can be seen here.


MANISH said...

it was really the toughest trek... :-) i still remember what I said to KP after trek, tht was too gud :-P

Ashish said...

haan yaar, yaad rahega ye hamesha aur humse zyaada apne driver ko yaad rahega :D

Ashish said...

@ ashu: are sirjee agar bike se gaye hote to jo masti hoti na lautte waqt, bayaan karna mushkil hai :D