Life is a journey; we are all wanderers. We wander for food, shelter and love. Seldom have we wanted things easy and built cities to stop the wandering. All of these superficially connect us to the world that we created; but are we connected to the real world, the one in which nature so wildly roars ? We are jailed in the concrete jungles we created and only nature can set us free.
The more you travel, the closer you get to your loved ones, emotionally.
I have been blessed with a lot of journeys so far in life and I pray for more to come. The one journey that will stand out in the memories’ camera roll is the Kumara Parvatha(KP) Trek.
The peak stands tall at 5617 Ft above sea level being the 6th highest peak in Karnataka. It is the second highest peak in Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Kodagu.
There are 2 approaches to trek the KP, one is via Kukke Subramanya in Dakshin Kannada and the other is from Somwarpet, Madikeri. The approach from Madikeri is 10kms and quite strenuous, but the trek from Kukke starts at sea level and grueling 18 kms uphill; So we chose the grueling one.
I started the journey with 3 best friends Ajay, Suhas & Chetan. We all know each other from quite a long time and know each other better than anyone else. The perfect journey with the perfect adventure mongers.
The journeys we have together include countless rides in south of India including a 24 hour continuous RIDE to Kodachadri through the Western Ghats way back in 2012(I admit it, it was stupid of us – but we did it with a lot of hiccups).
So we had a prior experience of KP where we made another adventurous move to trek in the monsoon. June 2013 recorded one of the highest rainfalls in the Western Ghats and we were trekking in it. That is where we understood that there is a very thin line between adventure and disaster.
The Lessons from the Monsoon trek:
There are 5 critical stages in the journey to the peak – Bhatru Mane, Forest office checkpost (Pushpagiri), View Point, Kallu Mantapa, Shesha Parvatha & finally the mighty Kumara Parvatha.
Introduction to Bhatru Mane –
A person whose humble abode is in the middle of the Pushpagiri forest and has been serving trekkers by providing food and shelter. The trek to this point would take about 4 hours from the starting point. Mr. Bhat makes his living by cattle rearing and agriculture. Every single day a person from Bhatru mane will make at least two round trips to Kukke (Hats off) for getting essentials from the city.
When you start trekking, it is an exhilarating experience as you get used to breathing hard. Once the dust of the city has made its way out of your lungs the divine air of the forest energizes you. The thick forests make it dark and hence it is advised to pass this point in broad daylight.
This is a crucial part of trek as we get a glimpse of what we are about to experience. The 70 degree elevation in some parts of the journey makes your thighs cry.
When we trekked in the monsoon, this part of the forest was dwelling with Leeches. For every one leech we pluck from our legs, there were 3 sticking on. It was treacherous, demeaning, demotivating and we were against all odds. The downpour, the bags getting heavy as it soaked the cold. We were in the nature’s mercy. You will hear your every breath and feel air as it touches the tissues of your lungs in these conditions. We reached Bhatru mane after 5 most difficult hours of our lives. The feeling cannot be explained, it just has to be felt.
Sadly for us, Mr. Bhat informed us that we had covered only 1/4th of the total distance and hence making it to the top was not advised considering the downpour. Going up there was a test of endurance, but getting back down was a feat. We were comforted by good food and shelter, but now getting back into those damp clothes and imagining the challenges going down is a real nightmare.
A lot of drama on our way down as Suhas’s backpack tore and we had to carry it by hand. Not a second we could stand thanks to the leeches, no rest what so ever. The desperation grew; we stopped caring about the leeches and ran down the hill with everything we had. It was getting dark and we couldn’t imagine stranded in the dark in the forest of leeches. We made it back down having many things to think upon.
One thing everyone did as we reached down is give each other a warm hug and then took care of countless leeches that were struck on to us.
Now the lessons from the monsoon trek are:-
1. First and foremost – Don’t trek in the monsoon!!!
Monsoon is when the forest doesn’t like to be disturbed. It is filled with life and such life which is not so friendly to humans. When you are planning a trek, plan in winter.
2. Minimum luggage – Lesser the better
The luggage you carry drains your energy and it is important that you hold on to the energy you have and not waste it by carrying heavy luggage. Pack only such stuff that is essential nothing else.
3. Ensure ways of connectivity – Keep the loved ones informed.
When you go on such journeys, make sure you have informed at least a few people and make sure you make a call to your loved ones as and when possible.
4. Do not eat junk – You cannot afford to upset your stomach while on a trek.
Make sure you eat healthy food and drink lots of water.
5. Research is important – Very much!
You need to absolutely know and be ready for what you are getting yourself into. We did not research with regard to the leech problem and the lack of shelter at the peak. If we had, we would have missed out on an epic journey 😉
6. Solution to leeches – Salt & Kerosene best repellants.
When a leech sticks on to you, best thing to do is put a little bit of salt and pluck it off. You can also use kerosene. In a trek even if not in monsoon, keep a packet of salt.
7. You cannot be waterproof!
We had covered ourselves with 3 layers of waterproof materials yet it is not enough; the rains in the Western Ghats is punishing. So make sure you’re checking for leaks in crucial places like bag pockets in which you have kept your gadgets.
8. Do not crib – be positive.
If you start cribbing, you are missing out on the experience. Sometimes we are destined to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time. It is wise to use that experience to educate others about that experience and the dangers and avoiding it the next time.
9. Plan B
The plan is to trek the peak. Plan B is not to trek in a different route but to find ways to get out of troubles you face in Plan A. Make sure you are carrying enough warmers, lighters & torches, a dagger which are essentials in a trek. I will cover the facts in detail in my next post.
10. Be spontaneous – don’t waste time.
Time is not on your side when it comes to trekking. It pushes you hard. You need to plan your breaks, keep track of the distance covered and the distance to be covered. It is advised not to trek after nightfall, so before the sun sets find a safe place and get ready to camp.