Monday, February 2, 2015

Burying the ghost of Makalidurga - 25 Jan 2015

Among 30-odd treks, the only time I hurt myself to warrant a visit to doctor was Makalidurga (June 2010). And that was only a sprain that made me limp about a week. Yet, it's been sort of mental block and I finally cleared it, thanks to BTC - my favorite trekking club so far. Having gone more than four months since last trek added extra motivation.

Curious to know the train route, I googled 56503 and surprised to see the very first link giving me schedule! (along with expected average delay - which turned out to very optimistic). Metro to Bypanahalli was very convenient given staircase leading directly to platform. I was roaming on the platform in hope of spotting fellow trekkers, but as happens often, others spotted me first. Soon, all four of us (Shwetha, Kavitha, Manoj and yours truly) boarding at Bypanahalli were together, waiting for the passenger train, apparently very notorious for its delay. Organizers Deepthy and Virander kept us informed when the train left Cantonment station as well coach position.

Train arrived about 10 minutes late (8 AM) and two minute stop turned out to be twenty minutes. It was good to meet frequent trekkers again (Ankit, Vikram, Srikanth, Aman) and talk about past treks. We had three compartments to ourselves (32 trekkers). Dumb Charades lost in favor of Anthakshri and soon we were shouting ourselves hoarse much to the chagrin of fellow travellers. We even got warned by a constable at one of the station, after which we turned to less noisy Dumb Charades. Highlight of Anthakshri was the Twenty20 mode we played - sometimes just one word repeated multiple times! :D and the fight to distinguish between and . Dumb Charades got us going almost to Makalidurga, interesting ones being Aflatoon, Khwahish, Paap Ko Jalaa Kar Raakh Kar Doonga (actually given to us as Zulm not Paap!), Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

More than an hour late, we reached Makalidurga few minutes before 10:30 AM. Very hot day, most of us hadn't got cap - too hot for January. People preferred to keep their sweaters on to avoid tan! Introduction session on platform was overlooked by curious passengers. As usual, we didn't leave the 'straight' circle joke. The train was stopping again long time, so we started along the tracks. Immediately, Ankit, Vikram and myself were reminiscing Dudhsagar and travails of walking on tracks. Given the blue sky and irritating sunshine, we named this trek as Doopsagar. Thankfully, we could hop to mud trail on our left after a short distance.

About 1-1.5 km walk later, we were at the base of Makalidurga. We joked ourselves that this was just the warm up on a hot day. The two organizers divided the group into two with good mixture of first timers and frequent trekkers (and importantly, atleast one photographer in each group :P). The dry and arid conditions and the not so green trees and bushes were clearly indicating tough trek ahead.

But then, we were bunch of enthusiastic trekkers - talking, sharing, responding to first timer's queries, etc. The two kids in our party were lively and entertaining. Ankit's bag of chocolate is so famous in BTC that his chocolate aren't safe anymore and gets distributed amongst his friends to make it last till return journey.

We took frequent breaks to catch our breadth and hydrate adequately - and of course, photos to share on social networks. Selfies were still in trend. Gradual slope (rather than steep climb throughout like Rangaswamy betta) was a relief given the rising mercury. It didn't help that we had started late (thanks to passenger train giving way to commercial goods trains). Surrounding hills and greenery were pleasing, the beauty enhanced considerably by the lake at foot hills.

Shady place were few and far apart - we didn't miss a chance to stop by. Fruit juice and oranges started making rounds. The two group demarcation disappeared as more natural slow/fast trekkers replaced it. There was a scary moment when a fellow trekker lost his balance and steadied without falling - but resulted in my camera getting scratched. Thankfully, it wasn't on and was only a minor dent outside (unlike my last trip here).

Slowly and steadily we climbed on, while other early trekkers were on their way back. When the outer broken fort wall appeared, it was a sigh of relief, though we could see that there still was a fair distance to climb. The dried bushes, some tall enough to reach our chest, did their best to scrape us as we went.

After reaching the top, funnily, some of us wanted to climb more :P Why doesn't the body acclimatization work faster ;) While we waited for everyone to reach the peak, we took full toll of photographers and scenery. Trees without leaves were enticing too, but full greenery in monsoon surely must be a treat to experience.

We trekked a bit further to stop by the temple atop. Within minutes, it was time for lunch. A very unique experience - instead of packing lunch on the way, everybody brought something on his own. A heartfelt thanks to all those who brought home made delicacies - stuffed paranthas, mixed veg rice, etc Plenty of fruits and snacks too. I don't suppose I have ever been some place just for a picnic thingy, but surely this is how picnic lunches must be. We were so full and content that not many wanted chocolates afterwards.

Soon after, we took group pic and started back as we had to catch the same passenger back (which had to be two hours late for us to catch :P) Climbing down was much faster, but of course required caution. Some slipped but thankfully nothing harmful. The fast batch reached the station to get train status and inform others. By the time everyone came, there wasn't enough time for a group pic by the name board.

Pleasingly, there were enough seats to sit (some of us climbing up and adjusting). As the only cost for train travel, trip amount was grand total of 30 rupees. BTC collected Rs 50 (20 allocated for BTC funds). For many of us, our travel cost to station was much higher :P Feedback session was mostly positive and some good suggestions too (the shared lunch idea was given by one of the trekker previously - so kudos to BTC for implementing it). Long stops (sometimes more than half an hour at a station) was irritating, what with mosquitoes joining the party (what with our talk centering on leeches and blood donation and all). Nearly half the party got down at Bypanahalli to avoid further delay as a consequence :D And some discovered that Metro was useful after all, even though only two small stretches are operational yet.

1 comment:

leo said...

So still trekking in earnest eh?,nice sum-up..msg me ur no will u?

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