The mountains, the remote river streams, the fog and the endless walk trails are some things you cannot find in the cities. I have often felt that the comfort of the cities have made us fragile not just physically but even mentally. Be one with nature and you will find that you have been blessed to have ventured into the wild.
Travelling, trekking and even riding are difficult to start, but when you do start, you cannot stop. It is the adrenaline rush you get from it. Only when you travel you know how huge the world is and how minute the biggest of your problems are. You may think that you not being able to buy a bigger car is a problem, but you will notice that it is not even a problem when you meet a person who’s running a tea stall in the remote Ghats, just to earn a daily living.
A wise man once said,
“The world is too simple for our complicated minds.”
This journey of mine wherein I uncomplicated my life, unwound the thoughts and synthesised many ideas is the Kumara Parvatha trek. The first time I trekked (which I wrote about in my last post) it was in the monsoon and this time we were more determined than ever. The timing of the trek has to be well planned. If it’s too hot, you get dehydrated, if you get dehydrated you have to drink water, and if you have to drink water you have to carry it. If you trek in the monsoon (please don’t) you know the obvious, you get soaked and demotivated with each leech bite. Hence, the best time to trek is in the winter (only speaking about South India). Hence, it was November and we decided we are going to trek the KP.
The 10 Prerequisites for a wild adventure –
1. Accommodation – Camping tents:
When you venture out in to the wilderness, you cannot expect a hotel room and comforts, so get used to the camping tents. It is fun once you get used to it. You can rent it for about INR 250 per day.
2. Torches (and lot of batteries) –
When you spend a night in the forest, it is advised that you have unlimited supply of light. It is very important as it would be Pitch Dark!
3. Knife or a dagger –
To set up a camp, you might have to cut some dry wood. It is always safe to carry a weapon for self-defence.
4. Route map –
Know exactly where you are going. Read multiple blogs, research as much as possible. Better to be prepared and have Plan B, C, D, etc.
5. Simple and light utensils –
for you know, Maggi!
6. A thin jacket would be advised to avoid sun burns. A cap is much needed.
7. Amount of water required and the water sources on en route should be carefully thought of planned.
8. Distribution of payload! – When we have so many stuff to carry, it is wise to distribute the load among each other.
9. Clothing – be sensible and don’t carry your leather jacket. Keep it to a minimum.
10. First aid kit to be carried as in these journeys it is natural to get a few bruises and cuts.
This journey like many other has been with my best friends – Ajay, Suhas and Chetan. They are such adventure enthusiasts that most of our journeys gets planned overnight and executed soon.
Ajay has been an excellent planner for the journeys as he plans for even the minute stuff and he is most of the times spot on. Suhas would be waiting to say “I’m in” for every stupid idea we have and Chetan is always there with us.
We started the trek at 6 AM from Kukke Subramanya heading towards Bhatru Mane – the first stage of the trek. We had about 2 litres of water with us as we could refill at Bhatru mane. The weather was pleasant and soothing. The moment I entered the arch of the forest which marks “way to KP” I had a glimpse of my monsoon trek. It felt easy compared to the monsoon. The chirping birds, the mating calls of animals and the winter winds, all gave a surround sound effect of what Mother Nature beholds.
As I have explained in my earlier post, the trek to Bhatru mane marked the end of our previous journey and this time the aim was to reach the peak. We trekked the 70 degree inclines to reach bhatru mane after a gruelling 4 hours. Till Bhatru mane, the forest is thick and hardly any sunshine surpasses the century old tree branches.
It felt like I was climbing, running away from something. Some thoughts enveloped me as I ran and ran to realise I cannot outrun it. You can never outrun fear. It just has to pass through and you need to get into a position where you can let it go. I feared for my career, I feared losing people, I feared for my life.
It took a while, but I understood that career is what we endure at what makes us happy about ourselves and how well we do it. Losing people was a part and parcel of life. You meet someone, you should at that very moment ready yourself to let them go when they have to. But if you are who you are, and value the people around you, the people will be with you even if they are far off. That is your impact on society. Fear of life is a summation of all the fears you will encounter. The age factor, the personality factor, the status factor, the love factors are some factors that we have to abide and accept as we grow. Only way to combat all the above factors is acceptance. When your mind is at peace, you start to think of all these extraordinary stuff that you may not have time for in the daily routine. I climbed and climbed, getting tired physically but mentally, I grew stronger.
Moving on, the food at bhatru mane is always excellent. And by the time we finished lunch it was 11am and the sun was grinning on top of our heads. To endure in the sun, it is advised that you avoid strokes by wearing a thin jacket. However uncomfortable it is, it is safe. Make sure you cover up your face and don’t let the sunlight hit you directly.
From this point on, we did not know how the terrain would be. I admit that I felt exhausted and felt like getting back considering the heat of the sun and we had covered only 1/4th of the distance. But something kept us going. The think forests faded away as we reached the mountain tops. It is just endless grasslands.
The sun burns you, your mind pressurizes you, but your heart keeps you going. It is the time we realize that differences of opinion are not between two people but between the mind and the heart. As we moved swiftly, the heat was almost blinding. We had not even imagined that it would be so hot in the winter and with an elevation of about 60 degrees to climb with absolutely no shade for miles and miles. Yet, with a lot of hiccups on the way, we moved.
We reached this point called the view point. It was a panoramic view of the whole Pushpagiri mountain range. It was beautiful but we could not enjoy it thanks to the sun. The view point marks half way of the trek and we realised that we have to scale 2 other mountains just to see Kumara Parvatha. A big hill climb, reach the top and you see that there is Shesha parvatha. Shesha parvatha looked almost impossible to trek; very steep, no shelter whatsoever; not even a tree in sight.
Most of the people who come trekking to the KP quit at this point. This is the place where will takes charge. It is beyond physical strength. Every person crossing this line has to have nerves of steel. We moved slowly, again. Still no sight of KP.
It took a punishing and body wrecking 2 hours to scale the Shesha parvatha. We eventually found one tree on top of the hill. It felt like heaven. The importance of shelter was realized miles away from home, 4000 ft above sea level. As we reached the top, we had sight of KP. We finally saw what we came in search of. It was a wonderful sight and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Now the body had gotten numb, we couldn’t feel our thighs.
The back ache, the legs’ cry, shoulders holding the weights, yet we kept moving. What is this force that let us move?
It was time for sunset and we were continuously trekking since the sun rise to reach the top of KP. The happiness I felt wasn’t just obvious with the grin on my face, but every cell in my body laughed with a sigh of accomplishment. Endless views, countless mountain ranges, the setting sun, clouds under my feet; it was a checklist for heaven. That’s where I was.
A sense of accomplishment, a sense of joy, a glimpse of heaven, a celebration of friendship, and the triumph of will ; these are all it takes for an adventurous journey.
We camped for the night, made Maggi on the bonfire. Sat still and watched over the sunset. It was just perfect.
The journey was not complete yet, we slept with a grin of joy to wake up to a new day. Sunrise – Actually it is just rotation of the earth, we are misguided from the very beginning. The sun does not rise or set, it is mere rotation of the earth. This is a perfect example of perception. The reality is science, perception is fiction, assumption and estimation is commerce and deception is art. We woke up afresh to start the descend. We knew how punishing the sun would be so we decided to start soon and cross Bhatru mane before the Sun hits the high.
Going down the hill is more difficult than it seems. The thighs are weakened and hence every step down, gravity is acting on the body to exert more pain. Gravity is the biggest enemy as you descend. It is advised that you carry a trekking stick or even a strong wooden stick to support as you go downhill. The grasslands were slippery at those heights. Water was scarce, as the only water source next was Bhatru mane. It is important to understand that when we rise up, we should as well know how to get down safe and I mean not just the mountain.
We were back at Bhatru mane by 1pm. We were so motivated to get back that we didn’t even stop for lunch, just a quick fresh up and water refills and we were back on track. Frustration takes on as you descend as you see downhill and you cannot see the end. It is endless. The sly mind asks you to stop now and then convincing you that you are tired from the previous day’s trek. If you stop, then you lose pace. But you cannot help it sometimes.
It was 3pm and we understood that we have to consider gravity as our ally and not an enemy. We started running downhill. Used the gravity to get us more pace, ran and ran. The mind is focused even downhill it felt like a running track – so easy. Mind over matter. We managed to get down from Bhatru mane to the bottom of the mountain in one and a half hour. It was for us ,a great feat.
The journey had ended with us giving big hugs to each other and a huge smile on our faces. An epic journey comes to an end as we book a bus from Kukke to head back home.