Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Kunti Betta - 5 July 2015

Date: 16 May 2015
Time: around 4 PM
Weather: heavy down pour

Not surprisingly, night trek was canceled, much to everyone's disappointment

Date: 5 July 2015
Time: 7:30 AM
Weather: Warm and Sunny

Not surprisingly, 21 trekkers were on their way to spend a day climbing rocks as an excuse to have a fun time with friends who were strangers the day before.

BTC organizers Sonali & Ramya and some of us were coincidentally part of both lists. After frantic scramble, most of us managed to fit within a compartment and some came to join along the way. After a few mandatory snaps, we got Dumb Charades going. Movies we gave were either too easily guessed or made tougher than warranted by comic acting. Movies we got always took long time owing to inept acting and poor guess work. And if that wasn't enough recipe for jolly laughs, members often guessed/helped for the opponent team :D Add some inspired acting and guessing, 100+ minutes passed in a jiffy. As we neared Pandavapura, couple of crossings and hunger pangs meant snack munching earlier than usual.

We had to disappoint plenty of clamoring auto wallas on our way to breakfast, a place near the Mysore highway. Thatte idlis, vada, tomato rice followed by tea/coffee - tasty and filling. Tomato/Lemon rice packed for lunch. Fierce competition ensued to provide us mini-bus transport to Kunti Betta. And while we waited, we checked out coin operated 'wireless' phone box, bought water bottles and milled around.

Unusually, there were plenty of first timers in our group (organizers informed during feedback after trek that it was a conscious effort on their part - kudos! ). After Dumb Charades, photo snaps and introduction session at foot hills of Kunti Betta, the group had already started to gel well. Organizers stressed about important policies like no littering and to stay as a group throughout the trek.

But right before actual climb started, I brought about a division. We stopped besides the algae infested pool, looking at a steep slope - without pausing to think or hear, I leapt ahead. Few other followed while organizers wanted us to take the easier route. Compromise time - Srikanth (BTC organizer) came with us leaving Sonali and Ramya to commandeer the rest. And it helped that we could see possible merging of paths.

After the initial steep slope, it became easier, punctuated now and then with small jumping maneuvers. To our left was another hill and a lake at its base. Visweswarayya Canal, roughly dividing the town in two, was visible further away. Trees, farms and cottages completed our surrounding view.

A few gray clouds and refreshing wind bursts saved us from what would otherwise been a very hot summer day. A family with very excited kids were not far behind us and over the course, overtook us.

The two groups joined as we reached the track between two hills. We took break often to catch our breadth and hydrate. The uneven climb made it touch above easy trek. And large climbing strides and small leaps became necessary as we neared the peak. It took us just above an hour.

A vertical pillar, about 15 feet in height, marked the peak. Large boulders were strewn around, providing us space to keep our bags in shade as well as ample opportunity for photo shoots - we needed more than an hour! While the boulders provided nice shots by themselves as well as for jumping shots, the hanging rock took the top honors.

Photo Credit: Ganesh Venkataramani

The howling wind made it even more thrilling to reach the edge and dangle our legs over yawning empty space. From push-ups to yoga, standing to sleeping, umpteen positions were tried to get that awesome profile pic. And there were 3-4 photographers calling the shots from different angles. And of course, we tried various group snaps at different locations. By start of feedback session in train back to Bangalore, my both sets of batteries and camera memory were out!

We took about 45 minutes to reach the base. This time we were all together as a group and took the easier path after climbing down from the main hill. The steep portion besides the algae infested pool has a sliding track, probably formed by people sliding down over the years. Some were sportive enough to try it.

After washing and filling water outside the temple steps at the base, we had lunch inside a sheltered hall. Lemon/Tomato rice with sambhar/curd and snacks to add taste. Followed by three cameras on timer for group pic. The mini-bus then dropped us back at Pandavapura bus stand. Passenger train arrived even as we were purchasing tickets. Huge crowd and jostle for seats again. More than two and half hours it took to reach Bangalore. We had jack fruit, dates, Maddur vada, Churumuri, biscuits etc and then feedback session was done with on the journey itself. Trek expenses came to Rs 205 and Rs 5 was added as BTC fund.

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