Monday, August 7, 2017

Exploring Kanawai Hills - 30 July 2017

Exploring treks with BTC are sure fun, even if it means getting scratches all over your body. The name Kanawai hills doesn't even show up when searched online except for BTC references. It hosts the Bala Kondarayana Swamy Thirukoil (temple) and 2-3 houses at the base on one side (with proper steps all the way to peak)

Another oddity was Silk Board as meeting point. After everybody had assembled, we took a bus going towards Krishnagiri and got down at Sri Venkateshwara Institute of Engineering. We had our usual intro session there. Organizers Ashish, Dinesh and Bharti re-iterated BTC policies. Shopkeeper  nearby helped us with rough way ahead to the hill. Dinesh had bought seed-balls from previous day go-green event - we dispersed them as we trekked.

Sun played hide and seek throughout the day. Overall, it wasn't too hot as can be in these parts. Being first trek as organizer, Bharti was the primary bakra to pile jokes upon.

As we neared the base, we came upon large open grassy field. The villager overlooking his herd of sheep called to us and advised not to proceed the way we were going. He said that this path was full of thorny plants and trees and that our clothing was bound to be all shredded. Given other organizers had done this route the previous week, we still wanted to go ahead and the villager told what he knew about the path.

Pretty soon, we got a taste of thorny challenges that would follow us all the way up to peak. It wasn't that difficult initially. Branches and bushes to be avoided here and there, still on legs.

Then the bad stretches started. Our progress came to a standstill very often. Dinesh and his lieutenants did their best to choose the way ahead as well as clearing bit of thorny branches. Still, we had to literally crawl, using our bags as protection wherever possible. Many a times, we didn't even have space to use our hands for support. Despite our best efforts, we got plenty of scratches. Certain kind of clothing were ill-suited and likely thrown away when they reached back home that day :P

The rocky clearings were a great relief. Not only did they allow momentary change from thorns everywhere, we could gather as group for rest, snacks and photo-shoots. Green spiders, wild flowers and fruits, weird insects, etc were another source of entertainment and photography.




Our progress had same story repeated again and again. Crawling through bad stretches sometimes took as long as half an hour to cross about 20 meters. Often we would joke that we might have to come back the same way, may be as bad as returning after going 90% of the way up.




After three hours of slow going, we finally emerged out of worst of the thorny forests. The peak was still elusive, but we got much needed breather. And the team has to be applauded for sticking through patiently and joking (for ex: game of thorns) during the climb instead of complaining.




We still had another hour of climb left. More than negotiating around thorns, we faced with finding the right way up. For few minutes we worried we would have to go back the same way when we hit a dead end. But we were able to find another way and finally we could see the path to peak clearly.

The neat temple at top is nestled amidst largely bare rocky surface. A few tiny ponds with lotus and a narrow split is re-purposed to serve as water well. It was quite windy and lovely view all around. After bit of rest, we sat for tasty potluck. Special thanks to those who brought sandwich, stuffed chappathi, fruits and sweets. Monkeys surrounded us but compared to other places weren't overly attacking.

Afterwards, we descended a short distance to rest under the shade of a tree. Given heavy lunch and difficulties while climbing up, we weren't in a hurry to go back. Lots of chitter-chatter and leg-pulling.

As we took the normal stairs way back, it was lot easier and quicker - just about 40 minutes to reach base (including breaks). We were running short of water but then we hadn't expected the morning difficulties. 

At the base, we settled down for refreshing ourselves. The villagers must have thought us mad to be scaling the hill from the other side and asked why didn't we take the stairs built for this purpose. Nevertheless, we were lent water and given directions for reaching the highway.

Before starting back, we had feedback session under the shade. Everybody expressed joy and amazement for finishing the trek, especially the newbies. Few nice suggestions were made as well. We filled our bottles and were on our way. Turned out that the remaining distance to highway was always around 2-3 KMs irrespective of whom we asked along the way. Our exhaustion showed and we took breaks often.

Finally, we did reach the highway and spent another hour refreshing and eating along with a dose of anthakshiri. It was getting dark but everybody was happy to rest, eat and then go instead of rushing back. We were lucky to get a bus to stop for us, which took us till Hosur. There yet again we bought water before catching bus back to Bengaluru.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Exploring Kaurava Kunda - 23 July 2017

It seems trekking with BTC always has something new in store, despite having visited that place before. Be it Horaginabetta or Madhugiri or Antaragange etc, there's something fresh and enjoyable experience. And as ever, the group was wonderful, sharing lunch, snide jokes, cheeky pics, memorable games and so on.

This time everybody was on time and by 9AM we had started our climb. Weather wasn't as pleasant as previous week on Madhugiri climb, but cloudy enough that Sun burn was only for a few minutes. The very start set the tone for the day - circuitous. See the below route map(courtesy Rajesh) for a hint (the quarry is visible too - upper right)

After getting down at Chikkaballapur, we hired two autos to reach Hariharpur village. Due to some confusion, we ended up going past the village and stopped near the quarry. The locals were very helpful and soon we were climbing towards Kaurava Kunda.

Soon I was able to make sense of our direction and once we reached the temple and saw the village below, we were doubly sure that we were on the right track. We took a break here and had our introductory session. Many newbies to BTC as usual and all very pumped up for the climb. Taking advantage of my prior experience, I warned them all of thorny bushes and particularly noted to be prepared for lot of exploration :P

Turned out that my concerns were all for naught :D Organizer Dinesh and over enthusiastic Sandeep happily found way ahead from whichever path we took. Apoorva, first trek as organizer, took up the responsibility of guiding first timers.

Various large boulders provided perfect opportunities for breaks and photo sessions. With three cameras and various smartphones in attendance, there sure wasn't any shortage of photographers. Throughout the day, all sorts of innovative trickery were tried out.

A short while later, we took another break, having found a way to reach a false peak despite doubts of way ahead. We had to take roundabout way to climb up and so came to wide open space with the other peak visible in the distance. To our right, on flatter rock ending in a cliff, was a ruins - just about a feet of rectangular foundation walls. We decided to check it out on our way back.

Hills all around us and depending on the angle, we could see the Nandi range of hills in the distance. Few aeroplanes flew overhead too. And just about 90 minutes since start, we had reached first peak.

After about half an hour of rest and exploration (and of course photo shoots) we started our way down to try reaching the other peak. We simply thought there was a short-cut on the side and yet again we did find a way. It was trickier too and was slow going till we reached the grasslands between the two peaks.

Yet again we ventured ahead without knowing the way ahead. And we somehow found a path to the peak. This turned out more interesting than first peak - tricky slope, squeezing in narrow gap, thorny bushes and so on. 



We had scaled both peaks so quickly that it wasn't even noon yet. After bit of rest, we gathered around to play ping-pong. A good game to get familiar with each other's name. So, everyone has to pick someone else's name. When that name is called, the person has to say ping, the one next has to say pong and next one has to say a name apart from assigned name. Failing to do the appropriate task leads to one strike. On third strike, the person is called upon to dance or sing or say a dialogue and so on.

For lunch, we climbed down a short way to sit around a grass clearing. Sun played hide and seek with clouds. Potluck was awesome as usual. And as is BTC policy, we were careful to not litter and took our garbage back for disposal. Before moving on, we took more photos.

Our next stop was the ruins. Yet again, we had taken a different route to reach the grasslands between the two peaks. And another tricky slope to negotiate. From there, it was easy hike to the ruins.

It was also a great spot to take pic with both peaks in view. After bit of breather, we played another game - courtesy first timers. So, in this game everybody stands in a circle. One would point anyone else in circle along with saying 'He' aloud. The pointed person has to squat saying 'Ha' and those on either side has to swing arms over that person saying 'Who'. And then next person is pointed and so on. The game is fast paced and anyone failing their task is eliminated until last two are declared winners.

Before moving on, the photo shoot trickery continued here as well. Jumping and dabs were involved :P Rest of the way down had more of our exploration - a different route than we took coming up. Mainly because of bushes and the fact that the temple was hidden from view until the last bend.

The villagers were helpful again, gave us water and told us that we were likely to catch a bus soon from the main road. While waiting, we had our feedback session. Everybody had praise for the wonderful trek and some suggestions as well.

We managed to hire a goods vehicle to Chikkaballapur before bus came our way. Before catching bus back to Bengaluru, we had sugarcane juice, tea, water, etc to refresh ourselves a bit. Our total expenses including BTC fund came to Rs 200. Can't ask for better way to spend a weekend :)

Other Works

Square Tic Tac Toe
Get it on Google Play

Beginner's guide to Command line and Scripting