Caveat : It is a long way to the end, but so is the trekking. If you are a trekker I am sure you can reach its end :p
Climb every mountain, Search high and low,
Follow every byway, Every path you know.
Climb every mountain, Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow, ‘Till you find your dream !!
These words always keep echoing in me…
Being born in the lap of Himalayas, the love for trekking and mountains was innate in me. I was always in awe of the heights and beauty of the Himalayas and no other terrain in India excited me as much as Himalayas. But geography lessons in school and shows in Discovery channel fostered a desire to experience western ghats too along with other places. Western ghats is known for its beautiful dense rainy forests and its rich flaura and fauna. But life got entagled in school, college, and subsequently in the race of career, it got busy in array of things and innate desire of adventure and thrill was lost somewhere inside.
It is amazing how a single message or mail can produce a change in your life just like a single spark can produce a violent fire so strong that it can burn even a forest. For me it was a mail from Bangalore TCS Maitree about one day trip to Ranganathittu for bird photography. Though I was not a photographer and still I am not, I got excited by the mail just for the love of nature. This trip rekindled the lost desire and it was as if I had tasted the blood.
A week after that, I trekked to Kudremukh peak with a bunch of enthusiasts, strangers who became good friends by the end of the trek. I fell in love with the beauty of the of western ghats and monsoon rains. ( I had decided to trek without a rain coat )
Without much ado, let me start with trek of Dabbe falls and Kanoor Kote of which this post is about.
The Kudremukh hangover was not even over yet and Voila ! A mail from Bangalore Maitree. This time it was from Adventure club about a trek to Dabbe Falls and Kanoor Kote. Felt like Western ghats were calling me again. I decided to get it registered no matter what. I had office that weekend. Somehow managed that. My first hurdle was over. The next biggest hurdle is to get registered as the number of seats were around 50 and I was sure the kind of employee TCS has its gonna be tougher than Tatkal reservation of Indian Railways. The next day the link opened five minutes late which has already caused panic among the enthusiasts and as expected the seats just got filled in a blink of an eye. Thanks to the backup plan I finally got the registration. ( At least IT has taught me to have a sound Business Continuity Plan if nothing else :p)
16th- June to 18th June :
In this period all the confirmed TCSers received regular mails from Adventure club with all the details which helped us in preparing for upcoming trek. Thanks to Maitree team for all the minute details. The bags were packed and the excitement was on the surge, eagerly waiting for the day to come.
19th June :
Left the office a bit early, did some shopping and bought some arsenal( common salt) to fight the blood -sucking leeches. The time of journey had arrived and the excitement was already on the peak. After the ritual and group pic, we embarked upon a journey to reach our base camp. Most of the faces were new and a cool introductory session broke the ice. We decided to get some sleep before the trek and called it a day.
20th June : ( DAY 1 – Kanoor Kote)
In the morning we were joined by Aventura India members who were our official guides and facilitators. We arrived at a place from where our bus can’t go further and we have to travel 2 kms to the base camp which was at Hosagadde Village Forest IB quarters, Sagara Taluk. We were welcomed by rain the moment we boarded out of the bus. The noise of traffic and honking of vehicles had turned to chirping of birds and beat boxing of cicada. We had left all the clutter of city life behind in Bangalore.
The location of base camp was mesmerizing. In our front were Sharavathi Back waters filled with muddy water, the brown soil filled with gravels n pebbles and the green horizon behind was creating a beautiful landscape which we started capturing in our cameras the moment we reached there.
The world was beautiful as far as we can see. The showers of rain were adding to the beauty of it and our photography team was struggling n running around to save their cameras from drenching. I somehow suppressed my urge to swim in the backwaters coz it was muddy and we were not allowed to do so.
After freshening up and sumptuous breakfast we were briefed about the day activities i.e. the trek Kanoor Kote. After taking our packed lunch which was tamarind rice and raita, and filling our water bottles we headed for the trek. I guess I was the only one without a rain coat and in some time I was about to know the consequences of it. Again after walking for about 2 kms we reached our bus. We went playing antakshri which was fun in itself.
It has become more of hindi vs telugu songs competition in which, both teams didn’t accept defeat. Our journey was interrupted in the misty forest where a tree had fell on the road. Some of us got down and moved the tree out of the way. While we were removing tree out of the way, our photography team was busy in capturing the moments. It is good to have some photographers in the group to capture these unforgettable moments.
The Downpour welcomed us on the start and I felt cold and thought I made a mistake not to carry a rain coat. Chuck it … I came to enjoy the rain, I am gonna do it no matter what and I started humming Rain over me song :p. The much awaited trek had started and we had been made wary of leech infested path. Leeches were going to be biggest spoiler in the trek. The energy was high and people were out of sight in no time. I deliberately started slow to have company of my photographer friends. I wanted as many pics as I could get :p.
The moment we entered leech infested area we were on our toes, but all in vain. Leeches are very stubborn creatures and we finally started donating blood. By the time we were removing one other would have already found a way to climb upon us. Even salt was of little help as we were not able to see where all the leeches were. We carried on fighting with them and donating them blood. The shoes got drenched in rain and started feeling slushy. Wearing slippers or sandals would have been a better idea as the trek wasn’t so steep and slippery.
We stopped at a place which was grassy, more importantly it was free of leeches. The vegetable pulav had never tasted that good and water never that sweet as it tasted at that moment. It made us realize to value food and water as every bit and every drop mattered when you are in scarcity of resources. We gathered all the waste in trash bags as we didn’t want to spoil the beauty of the land. After refeulling we started our ascent to Kunoor kote fort and temple. The clouds were providing shade, the cool wind was refreshing us at every moment, the rain was cleansing us and the scenic beauty gave the tonic to the eyes.
About after 5 hours we reached the desolated fort and temple. We came across a Mallabar pit viper and I was delighted to see it and so was the photography team. Photo session followed without caring for leeches stuck to our feet and legs.
Within minutes we started the return journey as we wanted to descend back before sun set. We didn’t want to travel in leech infested path in night. (Night and leech : A lethal combination).
Personally I was fit and felt only the joy and bliss. I could see fellow trekkers’ steps became slower, the bags became heavier and gravity became stronger. Still all carried on challenging and pushing their limits. We can do anything if set our mind to. We started singing songs thinking it would bring some respite. The DJ of the jungle Cicada joined in with its the background music.
The sun set and it was dark. Thankfully we had crossed the leech infested area. Beaming Bus lights at far end marked the end of a 18 km adventurous trek. Many of the trekkers were already waiting in bus which now looked like warzone with leeches and blood all around. In a hurry we had a head count and sarted back to base camp. Refuelling session started in the bus with the leftovers of the day. Most of us just want to hit the bed and didn’t want to get up till eternity.
We had missed the timeliness and organizers were doing their best to keep everything as planned. We reached the point from where we had to start 2 km trek again to base camp of which most of us hadn’t had the energy to do so.
Thanks to the friends of Aventura India who were ready to hitch us till our base camp on their truck. But the adventure hadn’t ended for the day yet. While the journey back we encountered a massive tree blocking the road. I took almost all our remaining energy to lift it out of the way. Kudos to all for the team-effort which reminded us that unity is indeed a strength. Surprises such as these add to the adventure.
We were famished by the time we reached and gulped down every edible thing we could get our hands onto. We were behind our schedule which had pushed the plans by few hours. Some of the folks couldn’t agree to the new plan and decided to return to Bangalore the next day.
We heard from the organizers that we have to wake up at 6 if we want to reach dabbe falls on time. That part of information regarding waking up was something which our mind decided not to process. We all slept in a hall in our sleeping bags. In few moments we were in so deep slumber that even if an explosion had occurred near us we wouldn’t have heard it.
21- June ( DAY 2 – Dabbe Falls)
Just in a minute ( it felt like a minute) we were woke up by the orgainzers as the clock struck 6 am. Sadly, time travels fast in the night. The bodies were in pain and the smell of violini and pain remover gels was still in the air, but surprisingly everyone woke up with new zeal.
It had rained cats and dogs in the night. Due to heavy rain our breakfast service got delayed. Aventura India members indulged us in various games and fun activities which gave a jolly start to a new day. After having breakfast, hot tea/coffee and taking our packed lunches we were ready to hit the trek again.
It was going to be the longest day, not only for us … technically 21st June is the longest day in northern hemisphere of the earth. We packed all our stuff and hit the 2km stretch for the last time. We reached the dabbe falls trek point in an hour.
Some of us stayed back in the bus. This trek was supposed to be short but steep and slippery. In some time we were about to know how much ! The way went through dense forest, through the fallen trees and little brooks. On the way we crossed a home whose owner gave us the luscious mangoes from the mango tree.
It was something everyone cherished. The mangoes were really delicious. After the juicy break we entered a narrow path with water running through it. I had decided to wear slippers this time which turned out to be a good decision. Our old enemy, leeches had arrived again though in less numbers.
We reached the cliff like point from where we had to descend on an almost 70 to 80 degree slope. From there, we cloud hear the roar of the waterfall. My heart had started to throb after listening to it. My wish to take a shower under it was pulling me towards it. We started the descent which turned out to be a unique challenge. The trees’ roots provided natural web of ropes which gave us some ease and personally allowed me to act like the Tarzan.
We took one and half hour to descend about 400 mts. We stopped at a point from where we had a first glimpse of Dabbe falls. The moment I saw the falls, I fell in love with it. It was disheartening to know that we couldn’t go down further as the path was too dangerous in the monsoon season. We had to content from a bird eye view. Taking shower in it remained a wishful thinking. Nevertheless that view made me forget everything else. We all had our photo-session there.
After drinking all the beauty of the falls and the woods we took an U-turn to ascend back. Climbing is much easier than descending a terrain like this, just it needs a little more energy and I had it in abundance. Surprisingly we ascended back the steep stretch in half an hour.
We stopped at a picturesque village house for lunch, the owner was hospitable and gave us shelter from the downpour. After another round of tasty food we headed back. I wanted to reach faster than all others so that I can take bath in fresh water. After wandering and losing way for a few times, ( I shouldn’t be alive came to my mind) I made it back first and took a bath in running & chilling water. It was blissful. All the dirt, fatigue and pain washed away. Then others reached and everyone took their turn to get fresh.
It was a cozy feeling to be in dried clothes after two days. We were served with snacks and hot tea/coffee which took us to cloud nine. After giving feedback to Aventura India members and thanking them and other friends, we parted our ways to begin the return journey to Bangalore.
After that, the feedback session of TCS Maitree Bangalore Adventure club began. Everyone thanked them for their efforts to make this trek successful and I would also personally thank all the team for giving us such a nice experience. The time and effort you all gave to this even is commendable.
We had dinner at a fine place and felt we were back in civilization. In the morning we were back in the noise of traffic leaving all the serenity behind. A force was still pulling me back there and I realized to get over this hangover will take some time. Again like the previous trek, we went as strangers and returned as friends.
Trekking bless us with friends and memories. It teaches to push our limits and never say never. It teaches us that it is not always about the destination but about the journey too… not about oneself but others too. It teaches us to value nature and life.
The brooks, woods and mountains will always beat in my heart …
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, but I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep !!
Thanks for stopping by. It was my first attempt to write a trek blog. Please leave your comments and feedback 🙂
PS : My special Thanks to Saajan, Ishita,Vinit and Amrita for the beautiful pictures, and Anusha, Nagarjuna and Vinay for organizing such a beautiful event.