Am on good trekking form, Rangaswamy Betta this time. My 4th trek with BMC. I decided to do this trek just for the variety of easy trek and as preamble to Tadiandamol trek on Feb 26-27.
There were only 7, including the guide Satya for this trek. Chetan from previous Antaragange trek had also come. After having breakfast at Krishna Sagar and crossing city limits, we hit the NH 209 towards Kanakapura. The road was fantastic with trees on either side forming archway at certain places. Satya is very talkative and throughout the journey we discussed about our trek experiences. Which meant, I had very little opportunity for my customary window-watching.
Wonderful NH 209 with archways
To reach Rangaswamy betta, one has to take a left turn from NH 209 (don't remember a landmark). Throughout the 6km stretch, one can enjoy the brimming village life. The farms, the huts, broken red-brick walls, villagers working in veranda of their houses, their enthusiasm of watching vehicles go past them, etc etc. By 10am, we reached the base of Rangaswamy betta. As is my wont, I was clicking away at anything and everything around when Chetan brought my attention to some sort of growing on a tamarind tree. I clicked a snap and saw that spiders were moving around on that hairy growing on the tree. I presumed that spiders were hunting for food. Then Satya came and exclaimed he has seen nothing like it and asked me to take a video. It was then we realised that infact the hairy growing was perhaps a nest built by the spiders! At the base of the tree were like millions of spiders. When Satya went close to the nest, spiders moved as if to attack him!
The Spider nest
Satya then brought us into a huddle and gave a brief of our day's itinerary and some note points to follow. It was sunny, hot and I regretted the decision to have only 1 liter of water despite Satya's insistence on 2 liters. I was arrogant on the fact that I did Madhugiri trek in searing hot conditions with 2 liters and hence I should be able to manage with 1 liter here. After about 10 min walk, we started the climb. There's a clear cut path for almost the entire trek path. The path is a mix of black sand, tree trunks/roots and stones. Workers from the village were ahead of us. As I mentioned before, our talkative guide Satya kept us interested with his experiences and his memorable incidents. During one of those talks - related to Kumarparvatha, we were rooted to our spot for about 5 min of his narration.
Lion King anyone?
The pattern repeated itself throughout the climb - some or the other topic was discussed, we stopped - for the discussion/photo-shoot and continued. It meant too frequent a stop, not suited for a climb through arid conditions. I wasn't panting initially, but was sweating profoundly. By halfway, it seemed all too easy - nothing challenging courtesy the clear cut path. Some enthusiasts had even finished the climb and were returning. Satya stuck a conversation with them too! And so we stopped again for him to join us.
By now, we started feeling difficulty in climbing. So, our resting became even more frequent. Discussion had now moved to Cobras and Vipers and Black Mambas. As we neared the top, we met more trekkers returning. An old-aged worker caught up with us, and on seeing us resting said that the peak was just around the corner. And he kept climbing with ease.
To our frustration, lots of ice-cream covers showed up. The last part of the climb was like - trek 1 min and stop 2 mins! I was panting and puffing and not wanting to climb. But I did finish it and on reaching the flat peak, my relief knew no bounds. Cool breeze was flowing and the view from top is just awesome. Hills all around and farming fields of villages at the base could be seen. Also visible was a long trench on the work at the base. A dog followed us for a while. There were painted rocks (mainly of elephants) besides the Rangaswamy temple. We settled on a large rock sheltered with a mango tree's shadow nearby the temple.
Peak. The temple is on the other side of this rock
Luckily, got the macro-shot right ;)
It was around quarter to 1pm. I was yet again with my camera clicking away the flowers and hills on the horizon. As I turned to the group relaxing on the rocks, I saw that people from the temple were distributing 'prasadam'. It was a mix of rice, coconut, banana and jaggery. One of the best I have had and the exhaustion only added to its taste. Having to eat the oily masala dosa after the prasadam was more of a pain. Satya liked the prasadam so much that he didn't have his pulav, keeping it to give to some laborer. But, they were the ones giving us prasadam and later pongal too which only Satya and Chetan had. And the old-aged worker was kind enough to fill a water bottle - twice.
Our resting spot, the old-aged worker in the background
We relaxed for about an hour. To me, the amount of discussion among 7 of us was surprising, perhaps Satya's talkative behavior seeped into us as well ;). Around after 2pm, we took a walk around the temple. There are couple of nice spots for the camera enthusiasts to take pictures of the valley below and hills around. Clouds were dotting the sky and their shadow mixed with trees in the valley betrayed the eyes to be a chunk of dense forest. Only after few minutes of deliberation did we realise it was cloud shadow.
There is road connectivity from other side (relative to the trek path) and hence the peak is self sufficient with amenities like water. When we were leaving, some sort of ceremony was going on outside the temple. And at the far end of the peak, some were cooking meat. We met another group of trekker there! There's a small pond too with green water and plenty of frogs. The view from this 'edge' is stunning. I could spot atleast three big water bodies around.
Around 3pm we started our descent. The dog magically appeared in front of us and started following again! We thought it would leave us around the trek path, but no. It followed us all the way to the base. The descent was a bit tricky and we had to climb down sideways. But once we got used to it, we kept going at a good pace. We stopped after about 20-30 mins and by now we were sure the dog would come with us to the base. Was it following us or leading us will remain a question. When we stopped and having water, we thought the dog might need water too. Now the problem was how to feed it! Chetan tried to pour directly which the dog shooed away. We saw a rock with some capacity to hold water and poured there. The precious water just flowed off and the dog did not even make a move for a sip. Satya had got his benefactor for the pulav but decided to give it to the dog only after reaching the base. At some point after, the dog ran off and came back with its back drenched in green-pond water. So much for our concern.
We reached the base in less than an hour. I was fully exhausted, wanting no more than to rest peacefully. And zillion liters of water. I finished my last drops just before the base and had to borrow two sips from the others. Pretty embarrassing. And a lesson learnt. We had about 10 min break, having snacks and water. Satya, as promised, opened his pulav and kept it for the dog which was gobbled up in less than a 1 min I think! We also gave the dog a biscuit as dessert ;)
The dog still didn't leave us and came upto the car as well. After some tamarind hunt and group photo, we left for Bangalore around 4:30pm. The faithful animal ran behind the car as well. The memory of the dog running seen through the window glass adds to my ever increasing unforgettable experiences on treks :)