08 August, 2015, 06:30 AM: Mullayanagiri Peak
It was very foggy. We could not see beyond 10 feet. Sometimes when wind would sweep away the fog momentarily, I was able to see the group walking 100-200 feet ahead of me. I was walking at the last with a girl. She was really tired. I needed to give her moral boosts at regular interval and carry her backpack. I was trying to keep her busy in talks so that she does not focus much on walking part but does listen to my talks more. I was afraid of getting segregated from my group. On top of that, losing the trail was another thing which was constantly haunting my mind. I was the only one who knew the trekking route from Mullayanagiri peak to Bababudanagri. All were dependent on me and certainly, I would not have forgiven myself for any mishap. Sometimes, GPS does not help if one has not used them enough.
I was always making sure that I shout and make those stop for a while until I and that girl arrived. Then we would start hiking again. Once we crossed the forest department office, we were walking along the ridge. So as to say, we were directly under the force of southern winds which were trying to push us off or atleast nudge a few inches off our walking position. Even though, we were walking taking shield of the ridge, I could feel the rain drops crankling over my poncho and damp ground beneath my heavy boots. Foggy clouds rising along the slopes of the valley were, sometimes, turning into a white whirlpool when they met winds sliding off the ridge rocks. Though beautiful, yet scary they looked- A deadly combination of a beautiful girl with a bad intention. Stepping across the slippery rocks and sometimes walking as close as just a few inches away from the edge of the valley was scaring me off, not for myself, but for any mis-step that might meet my group. Girls were surely finding it harder to take longer steps or step over higher rocks. But I was happy that they were prevailing through like an experienced trekkers.
After crossing the ridge, one hits the grasslands and trail becomes easier. But once you cross over the ridge, You directly face the high winds. The moment I cross-climbed the ridge, I felt like thousands of fans were pushing me off. My poncho had almost unfurled and unbuttoned. In Neel’s words, that was a horizontal rainfall. Rain drops were piercing the face like naked arrows. My steps were struggling to hold their grounds but may be, that was the moment I had waited for since last monsoon.
I feared nothing. I spread my arms. I shouted in the wind. They got carried away in the valleys behind or may be they kissed the clouds and shimmered away in the white fogs. I closed my eyes and I felt the moment of “Let lose”- a true purpose I have been living my life on for.
“How long, we still have to go?” would ask Jalpa, my friend’s wife.
It was her first time on trek or any outdoor adventurous activity. Well, Initially, I would lie and say “Just half an hour” to keep her going. after three or four of those half an hours, I really felt pity for her and a criminal with good intention inside of me. Well, sometimes, you have to lie for good intention. Next time she asked with her innocent face, I could not resist and told her the truth that she will have to walk one more hour.
After sometime, we met another group of trekkers. Most of them looked experienced, determined and well-equipped with trekking gears. It happened what I was afraid of. In fog, the sub-group walking ahead of us took the wong route. But thanks to the situation that they had not gone too far. Soon, I was able to guide all of us to the right trail.
But there was something I noticed with the other group. When I walked ahead to find people from my group on the wrong trail, they followed me thinking that was the right trail. Moreover, wrong trail looked more right and right trail looked more wrong. I was little doubtful about them that if they really knew the trail how come they were walking along the wrong trail. Even they insisted that the wrong trail was the right one. But that was my thrid time on the trail and I was more confident of myself.
“Are you guys from some adventure club like BMC or Basc ro you are in your own group?” Asked he.
I replied that we were going in our own group. We even chatted a little more and they went ahead. They were from Great Hyderabad Adventure clud also known as GHAC. After we finsihed the trek and reached to Manikhyadhara waterfalls. We saw their group over there.
Weather at Manikhyadhara waterfall was really cold. A cup of hot tea was not able to withstand cold winds and was getting cold within seconds. We were all drenched and soaked under the rain. Moreover, cold winds had made the condition worse.
“Are you guys returning today?” The same guy asked with a cup of tea in his hand and a big backpack strapped to his shoulders.
“Yeah. you?” I asked.
“We are going to stay tonight at Bababudanagiri and tomorrow we are heading for Kemmangundi,” he said.
I was always interested in trekking through that almost 35 kms of trekking stretch. But I always knew or some sort of had the notion that we can go by the road only. But he informed me that there is also a path through forest, they were well-equiped with GPS and compass. We headed for Bangalore then.
11th August 2015, 10:00 AM: News of hyderabad trekkers missing
I opened google news to take the updates of the world. Under the trekking news section (I have personalized and subscribed this section), I saw a similar face and very next moment, I read the whole news in a single breath. They had gone missing in the forest. I informed another of my friend who there with me over chat and another one who works with me. We were surprised and feeling lucky as well.
Here is the link to the news: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/494577/2-trekkers-hyd-missing-
Hours later, my friend forwarded me this link regarding the updated news:
Looking at their trekking experiences, surviving skills, military training and fitness, I have more of positive side about them. But since it has been more than 48 hours since they have gone missing, chances are getting bleaked. I just hope they are safe somewhere.