Sunday, 23 October 2016

Travel diaries : Kumara Parvatha trek





More often than not, the journey leaves a more enduring legacy than the end. Certainly, the view from the top of Kumara Parvatha (above) will be etched in my memory for a long time. 
But entwined firmly with the triumph of scaling the summit, is the story of the expedition to the peak. 

So on the 30th of September 2016, we set out for Kumara Parvatha. After a 7 hour bus journey from Bangalore, we reached Kukke Subramaniya at around 4:30 AM. We were 12 in all; few of them having trekked to the top as many as 7-8 times before, and the rest of us, rookies, attempting our first climb. We had some breakfast and packed ourselves a lot of 'pulao' and water, as we wouldn't get much of it till the next morning, when we would descend. In case you are looking forward to go for this trek, here is a list of essentials you might want to have with you. I didn't have the important things myself, but I was lucky because it didn't rain, and I descended down just minutes before the mist set in and got really dark, and also that I didn't slip down the cliff hundreds of feet below and die.

- A strong backpack     (I didn't have one)

- A rain coat     (didn't)
- A flashlight with new batteries     (nah)
- Shoes with a nice grip     (nevermind)
- Lots of water and food
- A fresh set of clothes
- A blanket or some warm clothes to keep you warm at night
- A cap
- Sunglasses





The picture above might have been taken at around 6:45 AM, and this is just moments before we started. After walking through the streets for 10 minutes, we entered a forest, where the trek officially begins. Most of us rookies were excited enough to make the climb and back three times that very day. 45 minutes later some of us were already praying to God for forgiveness for our sins, and to stop this pain and suffering.




From my experiences of treks (albeit from just one before this!), the first hour is the most difficult, and the journey becomes easier after that. So most of us actually got acclimated as we kept going. 

An annoying bit was leeches. The forest was crawling with them, and 17 seconds after we removed 5 of them from our shoes, another 8 would magically appear.



An hour and a half later, we reach a rock and took a much needed 15-minute break. 


We kept moving through the forest for another hour, before we reached this clearing. The view was so soothing, that I completely forgot about the last couple of hours and just sat there for half an hour, soaking it all in.


After this point, the trail is no longer through the forest, but through open land. The view just kept getting better and better, because I couldn't keep my camera down for more than a minute, but I had to keep walking too. 


Three and a half hours after we had started on our way up, we reached viewpoint 1. We took another half an hour break here and had some snacks that we had packed. The breathtaking views, steady breeze and the infectious calm was the perfect recipe for divine peace and tranquil.


We walked a mere 5 minutes from here and reached the forest check post. Important to mention here that nobody is allowed to camp at the peak of Kumara Parvatha at night. So after the climb, everyone has to descend to this place to camp.

We kept most of our stuff here barring water, food, flashlights and raincoats, which we would need for the rest of the trek. We had run out of water, so we refilled our bottles too.
Just next to it is Battermane (or Bhatru mane, I'm not too sure), a place where you can get food if you inform the guy beforehand. I hadn't, so I slept hungry that night, but don't make that mistake! Here is his contact number I found on Google :  +91-9448647947, +91-9480230191, +91-8151036344.

As we already had a long break a little while ago, we ventured out for the remainder of the journey with renewed vigour, having had the satisfaction of completing about half of it. 


The path was rocky, as it would be till the peak, but it was amidst lush green grass all around. It wasn't getting any less steeper though, so some of us did struggle a little bit. But at around 12:30 PM, three of us reached another landmark, called Kallumantapa (below). 


Here we took out the pulao and devoured it, but we couldn't eat much too, as we still had some distance to cover. So I started clicking pictures again. Everything around was so pure and untampered, that I could just sit there all day long.



We waited till about 1:15 PM for the rest of the group to reach Kallumantapa, and as soon as they reached, the three of us deserted them again and started climbing up.


The view just kept getting more divine and etheral. 




An hour later, we reached the Shesha parvatha. It has a ledge looking down almost 1500 meters. With the strong winds and the infinite drop, it is really scary to go near the edge. But even sitting a few meters away from the edge is exhilarating to say the least.



The penultimate phase of the trek involved another 25 minute stint through a forest (with leeches again!).


And just like we have the toughest level in the end of a computer game, we came out of the forest to a steep, slippery monolith. Just to remind you again, wearing sneakers is a bad, bad idea. One misstep, and you might tumble down like Jack or Jill. I thankfully didn't though.


At around 2:45 PM, four of us reached the peak, standing at 1712 meters high. We were hungry, exhausted, but satisfied and happy. 


There were clouds all around and we could hardly see anything around the hill. Just a 10 second window allowed me to click a couple of pictures.



We had a packet of Oreo, the best Oreo I ever had. 20 minutes later we were on our way back down. 

The adventure was far from over though, not for me but for the others. I raced down to the forest check point along with a friend so we could set up tent for the night, and the descent might have taken around an hour and 45 minutes. But even at 5 PM, the clouds started to get heavier and visibility reduced drastically. I must say I made it just in time, but the others clearly did not. The other 10 people were divided into 3 further groups. One made it at 6 PM, another 8 PM, and the last of them at around 10 or 11 maybe (I was too worried for them to notice the time). It had started to rain a little, which makes the path very slippery. Also, they had one torch among three people, so they had to stick close together and take one careful step at a time. These guys came back with a hundred tumbles among them and leeches all over there feet. That is why a recap; carry good shoes, a flashlight and a raincoat.

After all the drama, we retired for the night. Probably because of the dew setting in, the tent was completely wet, and water was dripping inside too. I slept in the corner, and everytime my hands or feet grazed the fabric, I would wake up instantly and recoil like I touched a live wire. I woke up in the morning shivering, but the view outside calmed me down. 


At around 7 AM, we began our descent to Kukke Subramaniya, and in 3 hours we made it without any hassles. After a long due lunch, we took a bus back to Bangalore.


The trip was one I will always remember, because it had all the elements of an epic expedition; it had adventure, mistakes, thrills, suspense, joy, a sense of fulfilment, and a happy ending where every one made it back alive! I have already planned a few more treks in the coming months, and I hope it will be as epic as this one.

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