Sunday, January 6, 2013

Kudremukh trek - March 10, 11 - 2012

My first trek with Basecamp. I had been to Thirumaleguppi earlier, a peak close to Kudremukh. So I knew the beautiful landscapes of the region. It was march, so no leeches either. But I hadn't anticipated that all the lovely green grasses would be worn.

 Early morning treat

Like the Thirumaleguppi trek, we reached the Mullodi house in Samse village to start the trek. The 6km jeep ride to Samse village was considerably smoother than the monsoon one. We reached fairly early (before 6AM) despite the traffic woes the previous night. A full moon greeted us, taunting by showing a glimpse of the mountain ranges all around. After freshening up, we started the trek at 7:30AM. We didn't need a local guide, as Basecamp's Kavitha was well versed with the route. However, we did have local company in the form of two dogs of the Mullodi house.

The 9-10km climb took us four-and-half-hours. There wasn't any hint of green grass throughout the trek. All were brown dried and black in places where burnt up to prevent forest fire. The hot sun and clear skies didn't help our walk either. The valleys and mountain ranges still presented us with a good view, our only savior. After the initial skiddy climb (due to flow of water in the monsoons), we nearly lost our way among the various small routes on the various small hills. Thankfully, it was rectified soon enough. Sakleshpur trek had taught me how painful detours can be.

As for me, memories of Thirumaleguppi trek strengthened every now then. Be it the Somavathi falls, the unending valleys and gorges, a cylindrical stone pile used as milestone, the various streams as we trek circularly around the hills, crossing the grass covered hills or the Thirumaleguppi and Kudremukh peaks. It became a point of conversation with the three fellow trekkers too. 
The three peaks which form Thirumaleguppi

The dry landscape has its own charm too. After a while, its constant color becomes background of sorts and we start looking for things that stand out. Be it peacocks far off to our right, passing the 'greenish' trees near the streams or the famous Shola forest. We crossed Lobo house at 9AM. With steep climb still ahead of us, we didn't spend much time there. And then came a special moment. Around 9:30AM, we reached a very wide open space with a lone tall tree in the middle. Typical of the landscape, there was row of trees at the intersection of grasslands where the wind won't topple trees. The trekker in the lead was waiting for us to catch up when he heard the dogs bark. He turned in time to catch a glimpse of sloth bear being chased away by the dogs! A milestone nearby showed that we were 4km from the top. After this point, one of the dog went back and the other faithfully stayed throughout the trek.

Sloth bear around the far-off trees was chased off by the dogs

Those 4km took us one-and-half-hours as the climb became steep and we grew tired in the heat. About half and hour later, we got to see Malabar giant squirrel and Ashy Drongo bird. Ofcourse I got to know these names after the trek, but it was thrilling to capture them nonetheless. We had spotted deers in Thirumaleguppi trek. Seems, this place is good to see some wildlife outside of the caged zoos ;)
Malabar giant Squirrel

 Ashy Drongo

Despite the season, beautiful landscape :)

As we climbed higher, we got to see some beautiful clouds blanketing the mountains far off and rainbows reflected in waterfalls. The view of ranges expanded and I wished I had come when it would be lush green. It's a great place to take panorama shots as was shown by a fellow trekker. About a km before the peak, we rested some time near a stream, which was almost dry in this season. After just about noon, we finally conquered the peak. Like other treks, there was relief and exhilarating feeling about it. This one was more special considering the weather and steepness of the final stretch.

 Well earned rest atop

There was some political party flag lying around. We took turns to hold the flag, planted in a cylindrical heap of stones, for the photos. Sun was shining brightly and we had no shade to rest. That mattered less as we simply sat down around the stones to rest our body. After lunch and an hour's rest, we started the descent. Usually, the descent is a bit tough with slope but faster to cross than climbing. But in this trek, the path is mostly flat except for the last few kms. And so, the descent takes almost similar time as the climb, what with tired limbs complaining too. There wasn't much of an incident coming back and no spotting of wildlife too. Only the seemingly unending walk remains in memory. And the cramps I got. Very painful to walk with it.

We reached back Mullodi house at around 5PM. Not bad on a dry and hot day. We took swigs of electral and rested awhile. Then two of us went to have a soothing bath in Somavathi falls, which is a stone's throw from the house. The water was less but enough to have a dip and enjoy for some time. Afterwards, we sat to gossip about our experiences and prepared some soup as the evening got cold. We slept in tents and I woke up in the morning with cramps still there.

Hanumangundi Falls
We left around 7:30AM in the morning after breakfast. We visited Gangamoola on the way to Hanumangundi Falls (also known as Soothanabbi falls).Gangamoola was a spot about 1km from the highway, at the edge of forest. A cylindrical stone bench marked the spot on which we took some snaps and came back. We reached the falls by 10AM. We had to wait for some officials to come before we could go through. Hoards of tourists were waiting with lots of monkeys in company. There are lots of steps to reach the falls, which was difficult to climb down and worse while coming back up. There was decent water gushing down the falls. We came back after another round of photo shoots. On the way back to Bangalore, we stopped for tea at a shop surrounded by tea gardens. The shop also had dry fruits and spices to sell. I guess I would come back for another trek :)
Tea plantations on the way

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