This is again one of my stories which I wrote way back in January 2005 I guess
We the 14 audacious explorers start off on Friday night 10:00pm to Kodachadri. I knew only 7 of the 14. We had a brief introduction in the bus and off i sank peacefully into deep sleep not knowing that I would miss it for the next 2 days….
Next morning I woke up to see I was in Kollur. We quickly checked in into Mookambika hotel there, freshened up, grabbed a quick breakfast and no sooner checked out, all set to trek Kodachadri (!!!!). I must not forget to mention the menu of our breakfast here, it was 2 idlis and one vada.Though the menu seems insignificant at this point, you could wait to see how it gains its importance as the story proceeds.
Saturday - 9:00 am
2 kms from Mookambika hotel was an old gate with a big broad in the front of it. Our bus driver read out the board which had a mention of the guide fare for trek, and asked us to take a guide. We laughed at this idea of a trek with a guide, and I said, “Namge guide beda”. Happily we shot snaps at the gate and started off our trek, least expecting what was waiting ahead for us.
All 14 of us had a back pack each. I don’t want to miss out listing the back pack’s contents, you’ll see it all make sense later. Each back pack had 2 litres of water, some food, one bed sheet, one pair of clothes, a towel, a jacket and some basic necessary stuff. I bet it weighed no less than 3 kgs.
After 2 hrs of trek we hit a small milestone which read “Arisina Gundi falls”. To see the falls, we had to trek off our destination Kodachadri, and we decided to do it. I kept on trekking towards the falls, but kept on blabbering “ I don’t think so I want to see the falls” ( women’s instinct I guess ) . After a long trek to the falls we realized falls had dried off!!! Alas we had to trek back the entire route and get back on our path leading to Kodachadri.
Saturday 12:30 pm
At about 12:30 we came across a stream, with lots of insects and some leaches too. We chilled for some, had the lunch we carried and started to walk ahead again. I again don’t want to miss our lunch menu….don’t curse me for boring you with this…..trust me, it’ll all make sense later… We had 3 chapatti’s each with pickle, jam, chutney pudi and ghee. We also had some kayi obattu.
Our map read, after abt 3 hrs of trek on plane land ( I mean path not running down or climbing up), comes a steep climb…and then open some space and then the peak…..our destination. We had now trekked the plane land, and the steep up began, we went on till 2:30 pm and still the steep only seemed to get steeper with no signs of ending. My women’s instinct at work again….I started cribbing, “I think we are going round and round on the same path and not ahead”…but this only seemed to send rings of laughter across my trek team, but no panic…alas!!!
Saturday 3:30 pm
At about 3:30pm we hit the open space. Its actually not the open space we had to reach but I still prefer to call it open space …since that was the only place in the whole jungle where the trees did not form a canopy and I could see the sky. Cheers ran across the team, now we are near the peak…was what we thought.
Saturday 5:30 pm
At about 5:30pm someone reluctantly shouts out, “We are lost”. At last we realized, we were on the wrong track. We are lost in a thick jungle with no food and water left with us!!!! .. Some panicked and shouted, but luckily others stayed calm. We decided to walk ahead since the way ahead seemed to climb down the hill… Some opposed, they wanted to walk back, but behind us we had a long path, which we knew was tough and could not be covered before dark..so we voted to walk ahead . None of us knew what was ahead, we were just walking hoping to remain safe and hit some road.
Saturday 6:30 pm
At about 6:30pm we found a stream, it was a boon for us. We quickly filled our bottles, and continued trekking again. Least did we know we would be disappointed in no minutes. Ahead of us we saw the path we were on was leading us to another peak and not to any road. It was already dark, and we had only 2 torches with us. Everything indicated we were stuck in the jungle for the night. The idea scared everyone. Somebody noticed we were getting signal on our phones. We decide to call the police. We called the Bangalore police, local police, DFO (deputy forest officer) infact everyone we could think of, but lady luck had decided against us…we got no help. Everyone we called asked us, “Where in the jungle r u?” the question irritated us, if we knew that we wouldn’t be lost!!!!!
After 30 mins of panic and disappointment we got back to senses and decided “we HAVE to SPEND the night in the forest”. But the place we were at that time was highly unsafe, it was very close to water. We decided to trek back the path we had come and decided to trek till the batteries in our 2 torches last. We started our trek back on the path that brought us this far. The jungle seemed darker than darkness, with all kinds of scary sounds from every where. 28 eyes had to use the light of 2 torches to fight the darkness and walk ahead. We made rows (3 in each) held each others hands and also a stick to protect ourselves of the unknown enemies. The first row had the torch, they would shout out the obstacles ahead for the rows behind…the shouts sounded “LOG ahead”, “ditch on the left, keep right”, “ STONE ahead” “Watch out your head for the BRANCH” etc. We walked this way for 3 hrs!!!
Saturday 9:00 pm
At about 9:00 pm and we reached the open space I talked abt before. It was undoubtedly some great energy that helped up reach here. Lady luck was smiling on us now, it was almost full moon and hence lots of moon light. There could be no better place to spend the night …was an unanimous opinion. Bed sheets spread out, we made groups to keep watch while others sleep… using all possible strategies to keep wild animals away. We decided against camp fire…for we feared it might cause forest fire. Instead the group keeping watch was supposed to speak loudly to keep animals away.
Sunday 6:30 am
Luckily nothing unfortunate happened, and by 6:30am Sunday we were all ready to trek again. We started back, with some bare breakfast….which was left over jam, pickle and ghee… We walk down the same path we came by the previous day, but there was a difference, we were all so tired that no jokes flew, no comments, it was just 14 silent worn out trekkers…trekking..
Sunday 11 am
By 11:00am we reached the gate where we had started, luckily all 14 had made it, none of us had fallen prey to the tigers, bears and wild bulls the forest had in abundance. We came out of the gate and collapsed there on the road, waiting for our bus. Then, lying in front of the road I read out the board on the gate….Mookambika Wild Life Sanctuary.!!!!!!!..everyone smiled…
We had spent 26 hrs in that forest, trekking 17 hrs and 50 kms…with 2 idlis and 3 chapattis to fill our stomach’s… but still we were alive with minor injuries…which was really really lucky….
Back in the hotel, the police came down to enquire abt us, they were happy to see us safe. They told us that the forest officials had come down that night to the forest in search of us in a jeep, but could not find us… They said no localities had spent night in that jungle since it was really dangerous. The news of us doing it had spread faster that fire in Kollur, and as we walked in the city people looked at us like 14 heroes!!!!!
But now after all this, all 14 of us are extremely happy to have done it safe…it’s a real life adventure…we are really proud of…