Courtesy: Sandeep Nagar
About the OG Trek:
Get down at the Gundya forest checkpost; Start walking towards Mangalore (The direction opposite to in which you came from/ Continue ahead) on the same road NH48 till a bridge called Kempu hole (name of the river) to reach the Jeep track. almost 2.5 kms on the way (30 min walk)
Trek length: 24 kms (8 hours up te hill and 2 hours down the hill)
Trek difficulty level: Difficult
Height: 3236 feet
Get fresh at Gundya forest checkpost
Camping site: Grasslands on the way
Permission: Difficult to take (Trekkers sometimes venture inside without taking permission)
Itinerary: Bangalore-> Sakleshpur->Gundya forest Checkpost-> Kempu hole bridge-> Ombattu Gudda-> Hosekere/ Laxmi Estate -> Mudegere -> Bangalore
Freedom and Independence were knocking upon to the door of my soul. That was special because it all started hours before, when the midnight would slip into the freedom of, the 15th August. It was the evening of 14th August 2013 when we had left Chennai. We were 15, strangers to each-other. However, soon to be the most celebrated friends of lifetime. With the eve of Independence Day settling in, we were ready to come out of our comfort zone and begin our mission called “Life is calling”. In the later part of the itinerary, soon Bangalore was left behind and we were sailing through Western Ghats under the dark cover of the rainy sky.
everyone was fast asleep. It was cold and damp. The bus stopped nowhere in middle of somewhere in the Western Ghats. For some, that was a surprise and for us, that was a plan. Trek boots hit the damp roads. It was cold outside. But we knew what we were doing. The journey of life and ultimate freedom was about to start. Straps were tightened up; loads distributed; flash lights on and soon, we were walking aligned like a gang of night hunters under the shaggy flashes of lights under the dark.
The schedule to be kept- nailed down; the track route in middle of nowhere- found out; the load- distributed but the rain- uninvited. Was that more fun? More than even I could have imagined. Grinding gravel under the dampen shoes; rain softly kissing and sliding down the hair; we were still walking in the dark and we walked for almost 3 hours to give a little rest to our palpitating heart-beats.
We had found a magic land. I stood stone cold. Mother Nature had put up an awesome show for her. Orange rays percolating through the silver clouds; Sun filtering its rays to the earth; suddenly there was a life all around as the sun rays touched the ground. The dews sparkled; grasses nodded; sky smiled; air smelled with purity of nature and we human were lost. Nothing lasts forever and neither did the magic could last. That was over soon. It was overthrown by the black hovering clouds with plethora of rain inside them. They reminded me of Dementors from Harry Potter movies; the dark characters which sucked up all the happiness.
“Viiiiiiiiiiper….,” somebody yelled and all the eyes were stuck on the lonely snake.
Hands quickly reached out for the cameras even though it was raining. That viper was a celebrity for the moment. That lonely creature was being disturbed and her mother, Mother Nature, had to protect her creation from, what I would call is, most powerful yet the most non-sense beasts, the humans. It had had to happen. Rain began hitting so hard and we had to run to save our equipment and the viper was left undisturbed.
I looked up at the sky and asked to myself if the rain would ever stop. There were no signs of sighs and we decided to have our breakfast under the rain. I was proved wrong. In the game of hide and seek, this time, it was sun ruling the sky and even though, the rain stopped for a while, there were like thousands of unseen moments unfolded in front of our naked eyes.
Series of virgin hills covered in the green bridals. Patches of forest spread haphazardly over the lush green shawl of Mother Nature; contrasts of the sunlight and shades of green, from light to dark, displaying thousands of colors per feet of the wonderland. But we had more of wonderland on our minds. After some photo-shoot, we stepped ahead. I looked up in the sky and dark clouds were again ready to drench us with their love. I was touched by those events so much they found a permanent place in my mind. Even while writing now, I am getting goose bumps and memories are flashing before my eyes like some fast forward movie.
There were clouds skimming on the thin air; short grasses dancing to the tune of cold air; sky looked filled up with heavy fat clouds but we never stopped. At one point, we were walking along the ridge and both of our sides were the valleys. Misty clouds were rising up from the floor of the valley, along the ridge and infusing a cold sedative on the flimsy water of our eyes. No time and space could have more perfect to let our Tricolor kiss the sky at thousands of feet high. The flag was kissing the humid air and our love for the country fled with air across valleys along with our national Anthem.