When the whole being is attentive, there is an awareness and silence;
we begin to hear, see, smell and feel as if the senses were asleep all along...
Plans and preparation:
This is one trek that I always wanted to experience ever since I went to the KP trek and learnt soon thereafter that this is equally thrilling and exciting, but quite in another manner. Apart from this "high" expectation, this trek has also given me a sense of confidence which, only the slightly peculiar circumstances could have helped unearth.
It all started off quite a while before when I was more eager and thirsting very badly for some adventure. As events tend to shape eventually, a man who is denied food hardly longs for it when the hunger subsides. To cut this needless part short, we set out (18 of us) on Friday night from Deepika's apartment complex.
Fun on the way:
From the time the journey started, a mood of "spontaneous gaiety" set in. I suppose it was the nature of the people on board that was responsible. Whilst we were still in the outskirts of the city, JK introduced his friends and dumb charades got underway. Hindi and English movie names were equal in number and the challenges were quite hilarious. As is the outcome with this game, I found out some innovative actors in the bunch and a lot of crazy movies that can be a real spot of bother!
Sneha and Mr. D (I opt for the popular name here) had quite a reservoir to draw from, while Niranjan, Saurabh and Deepika added the most fun with their funny lines and some times really high decibel levels. I doubt if anybody slept except Gauri! The driver accelerated outside the city as a gush of chill air belied what the journey will offer...
At Chikballapur, we missed the chance to ask the few policemen on duty, the exact way to Skandagiri. Instead we moved on straight ahead only to get a little apprehensive some 3-4 kilometers later. Finding no source of correct information to throw light on the route, Devesh with his presence of mind used the Google maps on his cell phone. We had to make a turn which cost us a good half an hour. We hardly had any wind of a surprise when we eventually took the elusive "left" turn.
Reaching Skandagiri, we would have almost missed the trek if we had relied on "initial" reports of a "no trek till 5". The few moments spent discussing the alternatives seemed to change the will of destiny. We were all joyous when the policemen relented and allowed us to trek at close to 3 AM.
Walk to nature's lap:
The torch lights were pulled out and with that went away any traces of sleep waiting to gnaw its way in. The crowd at the place was quite huge and in equal proportion was the excitement. Some people are naturally good at livening up the environs and we fortunately had plenty of such folks that day. Singing anything that comes to mind, making sure that our group kept together for the most part, passing the few torches to each other, it was fun all the way.
Suddenly when Sneha and Deepika started off with "Nirma washing powder", they had everyone in splits. A stray dog gave us company for some time, walking by our side and enjoying the mood every bit. A variety of languages, from Tamil to Punjabi could be heard all around. A sigh here, a smile there, a thumbs up here and a gentle rebuke there - Sleep and the fact that it was very early in the morning was nowhere in the vicinity of our minds.
Teaser - that was how I read this trek described somewhere on the Internet and teaser it turned out to be. Whenever we felt we had almost made it, the route had other intentions, not always comforting, when energy levels were dwindling. Finally near the peak, we relaxed for some time and took a few good pictures. Thinking that we might yet get a chance to catch the sunrise, we carried on only to find that the clouds and the mist had neatly wrapped the Sun between them.
As things turned out:
A moon light trek to catch the sunrise turned out to be a torch light trek to watch the mist and clouds play pranks. The winds were chilly and quite strong enough to frisk away loose caps. Saurabh and Hema decided to try some stunts and went to a secluded edge and oblivious to the wet rock, lay down blissfully. Later, Hema said, he was trying to vent out his frustrations...ideal place to do, I should add!
We stayed at the top for a little more than an hour striking all kinds of poses for the few cameras around. Once in a while, it needs a visit like this to know what people in the city miss. The clean, fresh, unpolluted morning air, the natural smells, the ever stretching hills with rocks scattered hither and thither - experiencing this is like attempting a communion with one's roots. I got the feeling that the trees and the clouds were whispering to each other - what, I know not and nor do I want to be privy to intimate moments!
Back to the plains:
The walk down lent a new look to the surroundings with the early morning light filtering through the clouds. The dew made the climb down tricky. Pausing every few minutes to take pictures, we were so happy and overjoyed that each and every person was in their own world - just about accessible to others, but having a thin veil to hide the tide of imaginative landscape that their minds were busy constructing.
The ride to urban madness:
In the bus, some dozed off too tired to resist the waves of sleep while some others dreamed beautifully of a pleasant and fantastic world nearly within reach. Alas, the noise of the traffic towards the city jolted us to remind that a return to madness was inevitable. I hated the sounds of horns and loud mobile ring tones throughout the weekend. It was like a rude intrusion after an intensely private conversation. But the door to madness has to be opened...