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 :)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Easy Peasy Madhugiri - 15 July 2017

A trek after long long time. As usual it was with BTC. And as usual it turned out awesome day spent with bunch of enthusiastic, energetic and encouraging trekkers. We assembled at Majestic and took a bus to Madhugiri. We were behind schedule a bit but we more than made up with our speed trek and had time to spare when we came back.


Before starting, as usual we had introductory round, forming a straight circle. There were four S[au]ndeeps and we took to assigning a number to our names :P Many first timers with BTC and some first time trekkers as well! And our organizers Srikanth and Dinesh kept their promise - everybody did finish the trek and enjoyed a lot.



It was a cloudy day and that helped a lot throughout the day. We started briskly, despite few joking complaints about steps and carved footholds. The ruins of fort made for many photo-shoot opportunities.



Many other trekkers were descending while we had just started, must have come very early in the morning. We took breaks often to get acclimatized with the climb. Our organizers co-ordinated very well to accommodate both newbies and experienced trekkers. Group photos helped too :P





About an hour, came the first of false peaks. As well as the most dangerous portion of trek, be it going up or coming down. Compared to railing support when I first came here in 2010, it was better now. But one stretch in middle was missing with just a flimsy rope. Again, Dinesh and Srikanth were at the forefront in helping. While everybody else encouraged (in the form of funny jokes and morbid endings)



With the weather being so pleasant, we didn't need much in terms energy replenishment as just simple rest for few minutes before trudging ever higher. As everybody mingled and kept consistent chatter, we didn't much worry about when we would reach peak.

 

 

 

After another hour of climb and two more false peaks, we reached the top. We also met many more trekkers coming back. Before going to explore the ruined fort at top, we spent some time at entrance relaxing and various ways to take photo.

 

 
Spot the Proscopiidae

Potluck is the best lunch to have on treks. So many different dishes to choose from (even if many did bring tamarind rice, they each had different flavor :P) and topped by sweets and biscuits (Thanks in large to Sandeep number 4, alias Kesar Sandeep)

 

 

We played a round of Dumb Charades (no teams, just fun) before starting our way back (prompted by light rain in the distance). As usual, descending was trickier and took time to adjust to going down sideways for better balance.



The dangerous section was even more fun coming down. Shorter people found it easier to navigate while taller ones had to lean and take each step carefully. This section alone would make this trek memorable for years to come.

 

As we neared the base, rain decided to bless us too. Even the slight drizzle made negotiating the steps trickier. Saved by 15 minutes I would say :P Before going to bus stand, we had our feedback session. Everybody had positive things to say and some suggestions as well.

After refreshing and relaxing a bit, we caught a bus back to Bengaluru despite some of us having to stand. We kept up our chatter to pass time. At Dasarahalli many got down to catch metro instead of spending more time stuck in traffic. All in all, so good to be back trekking :)

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Beginner's guide to Command line and Scripting