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.