Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Chamarajanagar Trek (Dec 22 -23)

December 22
Even though I knew that I would be trekking 22, 23, there was nothing done towards this cause till the afternoon before. Discovered that my sleeping bag (Borrowed- so technically not mine) would not fit into any of my backpacks. In fact it was so bad that I looked like the hunch back of noterdam with a huge cushion jutting out of nowhere. Even after I got myself some decent travel gear, I was debating whether to leave the sleeping bag behind, but ended up lugging it along, A decision I would and wouldn’t regret…! We set off at 5:30 and after breakfast at Kamat, we finally reached Bedaguli at around 2:00. The Bumpy journey aggravated by an extra passenger who had to be accommodated in Mysore left us tired and Hungry.

Our Picteresque Lunch Spot

Just before the trek..
After lunch in a picturesque spot we were handed out food for the entire journey, each trekker for himself!! We also had to carry a mat (lightweight but adding to the bulk) which was fastened to each of our backpacks. This was followed by a ritual of applying a mixture of snuff and coconut oil - The leech repellent. Results proved that it was indeed very effective
We are off..
On our Way..
Backpack and all, we were finally on our way, quite literally an uphill task at first. In spite of the nagging weight the scenery along the way made it really enjoyable. The area we are trekking was once the lair of the notorious sandalwood smuggler Verappan. The trail 'Verappan Trails'  takes its name after him. In his heyday he had killed close to 184 people mostly policemen and forest officials and had held several people hostage for ransom. India is a land of great social inequality and Verappan saw himself as Robinhood, stealing from the rich and turning protector to the poor and needy. He had a lot of sympathisers among the local population in the surrounding villages.He was finally killed in 2004 by the special task force. But his death remains embroiled in conspiracy theories
On our way..
As we wound our way through , we finally found ourselves in this open expanse of land. Jodigere was out final stop. Perched right there was the place where we would stay for the night. I was a little dumbstruck by the bare surroundings and the abandoned look of the building. It was quite literally nothing but a roof over our heads. I could imagine what conditions the forest guards lived in.
We get there..The first few trekkers silhouted against the setting sun..
Took this snap against the sun and got this wonderful picture . Some of the first three trekkers who reached base silhouetted against the evening sun
Tired after the long trek, we sipped on hot coffee. Of course the kitchen was a small enclosure. Firewood logs fuelled the flames on which we were to cook our food for the night.
Coffee..
Utensils were washed outside. A solitary pipe brought water from a nearby source and hat was all. We had water, but only just;It was hard to imagine subsistence amidst this barer than minimum facilities
The View from our kitchen..
Spent some time clicking pictures . The rock seen featuring here was to serve as some sort of enclosure for our camp fire.
Time to relax..
Our Stay for the Night
After the hot drink, we setoff on a small nature trail to spot animals. Had the chance to witness one of the most spectacular sunsets. Something about a sunset always leaves you in awe. The colors changing aginst Natures Canvas
The Sun Sets..
The moon was out too today. She was out to outdo the sun. oh and did she..
Wondering if we can spot any animals..?
Lovely night to be out on a walk..

Our Camp Fire..
 Dinner by a camp fire (which refused to stay up and retired earlier than all of us). Once done We spread out our sleeping bags and called it a day. It had gotten extremely chilly. The room was devoid of electricity. This was one place where Natures calls were Natures calls.

The Day Begins..
 During the time we stayed there we did not see a single piece of plastic in sight. We on our part ensured that all traces of our stay were erased. Plastics, paper or anything that would normally be discarded were put into one big garbage bag . Morning Dawned. Hot coffee and breakfast and we were off.
The Entire Group..
..And one for the album!
We set off once again..
Climbing Down..Much Trickier than climbing up..
Antelopes..
Taking a break..
Lunch..
A well earned lunch very near the end...!

Finally we reached our destination- Bylore. My hands and legs felt like
they would come off any moment. After the commute back to Bangalore I have to admit that I was happy to be home. I thoroughly enjoyed the trek. It taught me something new and got me thinking on how the first men ever survived in a hostile environment. Some of the insights I will have to put aside to write, for another day.

-Meena

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