Mission Kumara Parvatha!Friday, August 21, 2009
Objective: Set foot upon the Peak
Agents : Vinod, Imran, Rama and yours truly
Strategy: Climb from Kukke, Reach Peak and get down to Girigadde the same evening.
Attempt: second time for me after an unsuccessful attempt last December.
Okay. Now that the plan is chalked out and we are all set, let’s begin the journey which turned out to be an affair to remember! It was a sudden plan and we were off to Kukke on Friday night. It was an uneventful ride until we were somewhere around Gundiya Check post after which the ride was pretty bumpy and by 6.30 in the morning we were at Kukke. Last time I saw this place, we reached around the same time and I found Kukke to be a sleepy little town. However the town was teeming with activity this morning. After freshening up at the public restrooms and having breakfast, off we go by 7.30. Oh, but before I start I wanted to check my weight and so I did! Wait and watch to know by how much it came down.
We hit the trail by 8 AM. This being monsoon season, we were apprehensive about the leech infested first 5 kms of the trek. Salt, tobacco, pain relief sprays (more for leeches than pain ;) ) were duly packed. Well as expected, there were lots of leeches but constant vigilance and the salt/spray worked like a charm. It was not as tiring as the last time partly due to the pleasant weather and partly maybe due to my trekking experience since then.2 hours of trekking takes you above the forest canopy and it is now that one can get a good view of all the mountain range surrounding and the clouds if lucky! A couple of shots and an hour later we reached Bhattaru Mane. We had lunch at 11 and by 12 we started to reach the peak and return back to Bhatta’s place.
The weather was pleasant and now we entered the non-leech territory cum the shola grasslands. The peak was shrouded in mist for most parts and the mountain side was as green as it gets. But surprise! Tiny dots of pink spread all over the place. At first I saw some pink flowers amidst the sea of green. A few steps further and whoa! The whole mountain side was full of pink flowers. It was a real pleasant surprise. I guess our timing couldn’t have been more perfect or was it? Let’s find out!
Well they say, the good comes with the bad. So the flowers were nice and good but they also attracted a host of insects. As long as we were moving it was good. But, sit down for a minute and you will have your own personal band of flies swarming around you! Well that was bearable, at least for now and we crossed the first peak – Sidda parvatha, the second peak – Sesha parvatha and time for another surprise. On the other side of Sesha Parvatha, the grasslands are no more and it gives way to a thick and dense forest which leads you to Kumara Parvatha. Mist rolling in the dense green forest right in front of us at such at altitude was an amazing sight.
Up the stream, the trail ended in front of a huge steep flat rock. Now the thing is many people who have blogged about this, said they had to climb a steep rock to reach KP. But this was not just any other steep rock; it was actually a small waterfall. The monsoon had made the rock slippery and there was no direct path to reach the top. We had to go along the waterfall! We tried to find alternatives to avoid this but to no avail. At the end it turns out crossing the waterfall was not so difficult and we were very close to our destination.
After we crossed the waterfalls, to make our lives miserable, it started to rain – heavily! We had two raincoats and a jacket with us. So we were like big deal! Nothing can dampen our spirits and off we go towards the peak which included more slippery rocks at a slant angle. Finally around 4.30 PM we reached the peak.
Ecstatic I felt mostly but also there was a doubt lurking somewhere at the back of my mind about our descent the same day. When it rains it pours and so it did! Mist covered everything around and visibility reduced badly. We started back to Bhattaru Mane by 5 PM and were trying to negotiate the slippery waterfall for a trail towards the leech valley. Somewhere on our way down the peak, we missed the trail (as in there is no trail as such just missed the direction) and ended up groping in the mist for the right direction down the waterfall. This was some experience, being blinded by mist! So by the time we realized the right way to go down with the help of another group of trekkers camping at the peak, it was too late and we were very apprehensive about making our way down unscathed!
And if I forgot to mention, it was still raining and we were still soaking wet.
Without sleeping bags, tent, food, dry clothes (we had nothing on us since our plan was to camp at Bhatta’s place) we set out to spend the night atop coz it sounded much better than getting down the slippery rock in the mist and rain. The super friendly trekkers offered us a tent and thank goodness for that! Shivering like crazy, the tent offered us temporary respite from the lashing wind and rain but it didn’t last long. We were soaking wet and starving all night long! For 13 hrs we were holed up in that tent. Only god knows what we all went through. It was funny in ways I didn’t imagine. Water flowing below the tent was giving an extra cooling effect. Only leeches were missing from the scene..or were they? From god knows where, leeches were entering the tent. Not miserable enough? Okay we’ve got more. We were literally sleeping in puddles. Water was seeping into the tent from one corner. After what felt like an eternity someone asked what’s the time? Only to realize we had another eternity to endure.
I always wanted to wake up above the cloud cover and this was close. After a few clicks and few thanks and farewells with the other group we started the descent. It took us some contemplating again but finally we got down along the waterfall itself. After that, we crossed the leech valley which was looking lovely with the morning sunrays illuminating the forest. Not having dinner nor breakfast was showing its effect as we were getting down. Once we crossed Sesha Parvatha, a constant camaraderie shared with the pink flowers, clouds and the flies made the descent delightfully memorable well the flies were not delightful but unforgettable for sure. At one point we decided, any day we’d choose leeches over the flies.
On our way back, we stopped at the orchid cave. Now don’t think this girl is acting too girly talking all about flowers but I guess flowers were one of the main attractions of this trek. :D And all this while, I was terribly weakened with all the starving and shivering. Once we reached Bhatta’s place by noon, few morsels of food and a quick nap did a whole world of good. Started from Bhattaru mane by 2.20 and we cruised through the leech infested forests with much rigor and ended the trek by 4.10 – no major stops anywhere.
It’s 5 in the evening and we are dry, warm, stomach’s full and comfortably seated in the car but all that we were thinking was What a trek! What a view! What a night and WHAT AN ADVENTURE!
I almost forgot. :D I did check my weight. It was less by 2 kgs. :)
- Bhatta's phone number - 09448647947
- Camping options - either at Mantapa or the peak if you have tents, else can spend the night in Bhatta's verandah or the Forest office near by.
- Water source - One stream flowing near Mantapa always and a stream near the peak in monsoons.
- Time required - 2 days
- Distance covered - 28 km approx
- Difficulty Level - High