Tuesday, May 10, 2005

O (26th and 27th Feb 2005)

No one is beat till he quits,
No one is through till he stops,
No matter how often he drops,
A fellow’s not down till he lies
In the dust and refuses to rise.-- Edgar Guest

My previous prominent trek was the unsuccessful attempt to scale the O. While returning from it, I had only one thing in mind ‘I’ll be back’. Due to some reasons, I had to take a break from trekking. Finally the time came this February end.As usual, there were inclusions and deletions in the list till the nth moment. Finally 5 people alighted the 11 PM bus(on 25th Feb); Myself, Nanda (hard core trekker), Sandeep, Vasant and Nischal. This time we made sure not to repeat the mistake of our previous unsuccessful trek to O…. by not carrying a compass.After a bumpy ride with intermittent sleep we reached the Checkpost at around 4:45 AM in the morning. After having a cup of tea at the nearby tea stall, we started. The initial trek included 1.5 kms on the highway. Then we took a path to the right of us just after the bridge across river. We walked for some more time till we came to the edge of the village, from where the jungle starts. Since it was still 5:30, we decided to rest till the sun rises.Again we started at 6:30. The initial trek has a well defined jeep track till the point where we have to cross the river. On our way, we had our bath and breakfast between 7:30 to 8. Our brisk walk made us reach the point where we have to cross the river by about 11am. We refreshed for a while and crossed the river. This time, instead of just blindly following the path, we moved towards the right to find the main stream. After 15-20 mins of walk we found a small stream. Hoping it to be the main stream, we started following it.All through the criss-cross path along the stream, we tried in vain to match our location with that of the locations in Prashant’s trek photos. All along the almost dry stream, we came across several confusing confluences. We just took the path that headed north (approximately). By this time, we found it difficult to locate ourselves exactly on the map. So, we decided to head northwards; whatever may come.We had to cross some (3-4) hills on our way. Some were very steep, and we had to scramble with 4 legs. The humid weather was also showing its might.We managed to have a quick lunch of chapattis and puliyogare at around 2 pm near a small stream (almost dry).Our post lunch trek was mostly through the ridges of mountains. We hardly found any water on our way. Since we were fully exposed to the harsh sun, our water stocks depleted very fast. By 4 pm, we were left out with only 1 ltr of water. From then on, we started to conserve water. Water was given to the needy on quota basis.At around 5 pm, we were in front of a big hill, which we mistook to be one of the o. By this time, we were fully exhausted and dehydrated. With great difficulty, we climbed the hill and planned to rest there for the night.The views from our camping site were awesome. But none of them were in a position to enjoy. As soon as we reached the top, Vasant and Nischal fell fast asleep. Myself, Sandy and Nanda enjoyed the beautiful sunset (with great difficulty).Though we had enough to eat, we decided not to eat, since it would increase the thirst. The moon rise from our camping site was too good. We had to spend the whole night with thirsty throats and empty stomach. Since we had no stock of water, we decided to do a moon light trek early in the morning and cover as much distance as possible before the sun rises.After a good sleep, we started at 5am. But since we encountered some steep drops, we decided to wait till dawn.Only after dawn, we recognized that the hill on which we rested was not O. We could find huge hills double the size of the hill on which we camped in front of us. The hill where we camped was blocking our vision; giving us a false impression that it was the biggest in the surrounding area.After some more blind trek northwards, we also found a short cut (maybe used by cattle) which helped us bypass a big hill. By this time, we were almost dead due to thirst. So, we decided to go in search of water. Luckily I and Nischal found a small dried up stream down below in the trench. There were few small pits where water had clogged. We were not in a position to judge the quality of water. Gulped up as much as possible, ate heartily and collected as much water as possible.The journey further was fully on the bald ridges. Though it was tiresome, we were fully charged after finding water. At around 11 we reached on top of O. From there, we could see the jeep track. We could also see our camping site. The hill on which we camped appeared like a small ant-hill in front of O.The sight from the mighty range made us forget our tiresome journey. After a round of photo session, we headed towards the jeep track.The journey along the never ending jeep track was the most horrible part of the trek. After about 2 hrs we reached the Khodays estate. The security personnel there mistook us for ‘Naxalites’ on seeing us with sticks in hand.There we came to know that there was a bus 2:30 pm. So, we hurried to catch that bus. But on reaching the village, to our bad luck, we found that the bus was on election duty and the next bus would be only at 5:30 pm. We decided to spend our time in the bus shelter. By then, few people came to know about us and about our trek. The words spread from mouth to mouth and people came in groups to see us and talk about our trek.We were dumb folded by the hospitality shown to us by the villagers. One noble man offered lunch to us. We tried to repay him, but he would reject saying that this is all for ‘vishvaasakke’. Finally he asked us to send the photos of his daughter which we had taken, if we were so keen to repay him back.We left his home at around 4pm. As we went towards the bus stand, the villagers tried to make arrangements for our travel by requesting the police officers who were on rounds. But, the police were heading towards some other place. So, the villagers arranged an autorickshaw and also fixed the rate with him before hand.When we were leaving, all the people on the road were wishing good bye to us. We could not believe our eyes. Was such a treatment ever possible in a city like Bangalore?By midnight we reached Bangalore. The trek was over. But what we learnt from it, would remain for ever. Especially, the innocence, straight forwardedness and hospitality of the villagers impressed us a lot. It made us think again and again, where have we lost all these? By now, each one of us had understood the importance of water. No one from our team would ever dare to waste water in his life time.One thing I have to confess… this trek increased the unquenchable thirst for trekking in us.