Courtesy: Sandeep Nagar
About the OG Trek:
Get down at the Gundya forest check-post; 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 km on the way (30 min walk)
Trek length: 24 km (8 hours up the hill and 2 hours down the hill)
Trek difficulty level: Difficult
Height: 3236 feet
Get fresh at Gundya forest check-post
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 a 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 the Western Ghats under the dark cover of the rainy sky.
everyone was fast asleep. It was cold and damp. The bus stopped nowhere in the 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; flashlights 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 the 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 the 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 life all around as the sun rays touched the ground.
The dews sparkled; grasses nodded; sky smiled; the air smelled with the purity of nature and we humans 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 a 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 myself if the rain would ever stop. There were no signs of sighs and we decided to have our breakfast in the rain. I was proved wrong. In the game of hiding 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 with 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.
The day seemed to have the same wet mood throughout. Our walk seemed to have grown its reach till eternity until, after a walk which took forever, we realized it was 1700 hr and it was getting darker. It was wiser to find a place for our heads before it had turned darker and damper.
Though we were smiling at our fate in finding a place the game was not over. The rain kept on hitting our tarp through the night and it went from bad to worse when a few spiders and leeches were, too, found taking shelter in our tent from the rain. None of us could catch a sleep. Oh yes! The hot Maggie that we had managed to cook even under the rain gave us some warmth throughout the night.
Next day, after doing morning routine work and having apple as breakfast, we stepped out to the peak. It was a fast paced walk against and sometimes, along with the wind. Engulfed in the mist, it was hard to see each other. We could not believe in our eyes but that was the reality.
The maverick mood of the weather, nonetheless, kept on displaying the different moods of nature. Calling the whole phenomenal event just by the word ‘Beautiful’ would not worth that. If indeed that was beautiful then that beautiful was put together from a thousand words like magnificent, magnimonous, awesome, amazing, astonishing, paradise, promised land, wonderland and so on, so forth. But in short, I would say, that was my temporary Shangri-la.
As soon as we started entering the jungle, I just felt some pinching sensation and when I stretch out my hands to scratch, OMG! I could not believe that I had never seen such a big leech, as long as the size of my little finger, ever before in my life.
The size of the leech was a lesson and it almost compelled everyone to look out for the leeched around them. Even the most private places were not safer. The layers of clothing were not helpful and that incident almost made us run throughout the forest.
The second day also got passed away on the swings of anticipation, awesomeness, adventure etc in the lap of Mother Nature. I was always a big fan of love and nature gave me 3 long days of nonstop rain to remember that experience for the lifetime.
On the third day, I remember my pant tore apart from behind. The hole was not significant until I realized it was of the size of a wrist. Call it to my then bachelorhood; I was too lazy to change my pants. When I found leech inside the deeper part of my pants, I really began hating those creatures. Like this second day was over and again started looking a place for a camp, and successfully we spent our second night too.
Next day morning got up and started moving towards our exit point after some time we realized the route which GPS showing was flooded because of the heavy downpour but no issue, we all were excited about one more adventurous exit. Let’s do it we all shouted. And then we started following the terrain map.
We all were fully excited; suddenly in between, we found a big river. Now again brainstorming started. Some told let’s go back and climb the hill but some told let’s take the risk to cross the river so that we can save a lot of time. Most of them were agreed for crossing the water path.
But the only concern we had was this is Jungle and it is raining too before we realize water level can rise up any time but with all guts and excitement, we all decided to overcome the fear, we prayed to the God and started crossing the river by holding hand in hand.
I couldn’t click that moment because of the rain. But in the end, we all were come out as a team. We started as unknown people and stayed like a family and when we came out we were friends and buddies.
That’s all about true Nature. It’s pure and in the purity, even love is pure.