Charmadi Ghat

“Three Cheers for our group” shouted Shreyas.

“Hip Hip……” “Hurrayyyy”

“Hip Hip……” “Hurrayyyy”

“Hip Hip……” “Hurrayyyyyyyyyyyyy”

Since we made it to final destination of our eventful and memorable monsoon trek… Yes. We made it, despite heavy rain. We made it, even though it was dark. We made it, in spite of getting lost. We made it.

It was 12:45pm and we were about to start our trek at Charmadi Ghat. Our guide Isubu asked us to apply the “leech medicine” to our feet and legs. The leech medicine is snuff powder mixed with a small quantity of coconut oil to form a paste. We took about 10-15 minutes to apply and we were all set to start the trek.

We started the trek, Isubu leading the way. The initial part of the trek route was steep. Very very steep. And it was a mud road. Looked like a jeep track.

“I could have got my safari, and we could have driven it in this road”, Anand said, after looking at the initial track. I just nodded my head, in agreement of what he said.

Charmadi Ghat, Karnataka

We hardly trekked for about 10 minutes, when we saw the real track. The rains have spoilt the mud road very badly. There were holes in the road, which were formed by water flowing down during the rains. Shiva wanted to take the photograph of the track that we were walking through. He asked if he could use my digital camera for his trip.

Shiva, the “award-winning” photographer :-), was tired of getting so many awards (read sarcasm here). He did not have place to keep the awards at home, so he decided that he would take digital camera to the trip, and not his regular dSLR. He was so smart to avoid taking “award-winning photos” that he (purposefully?) forgot to charge the battery for his camera. Na rahega photos, na rahega awards 🙂

Suzy was following Isubu closely and he was at the lead. Followed by Shiva and me, taking a few photographs of the rain-ruined road. I was able to hear Shreyas and Anand giving tips to Monika about trekking. It was her first trek. Shreyas, being our leader in all the treks, overtook us in no time, to catch up with Isubu. He found Suzy sitting next to a small stream of water flowing. Isubu was standing next to him. We all planned to wait there for Anand and Monika, who were a few minutes behind. All of a sudden Suzy shouted “Leech!” and pointed towards Isubu’s legs. He was just wearing “Hawai Chappal” for the trek.

“Oil is applied na. It will just go away. Dont worry.” said Isubu. He was least bothered to even remove the leech. We all observed the leech for some time. To our surprise, it just went away! The leech medicine really works!

Charmadi Ghat, Karnataka

“I will continue to trek, while you guys wait for Anand and Monika” I said. I am generally a slow trekker. So I decided to continue. After trekking for some time, through the steep route, it started drizzling. Shreyas had reminded us to take umbrellas to the trek. I had one too, in my bag. But I preferred getting wet in the rain. It was great to get wet when the whole body is heated up trekking the steep hill. I looked back to see if I could see anyone, but there was no one. I was thinking if I was at the right path, or was lost. But I did not remember seeing any other path. So I decided to continue. I then encountered an intersection. One path to the left, one to the right and another straight. I decided to wait for others here. It had stopped drizzling by now. So I took my new dSLR out and clicked a few photos. After about 10 minutes, I heard Shreyas talking. The voice could be clearly heard in the otherwise silent surroundings. He came there shortly later, followed by Isubu, Suzy and Shiva. We waited for 5 minutes when Anand and Monika turned up.

We took the path that was to the left. This was a small path way, where we could only walk one behind another.

When we started in the morning from Charmadi, at about 10 am, we asked him what all places could be covered.

He replied “First we will go to Alekan Falls, then to Balekal gudda, then to Kodekal gudda, then to Jenukalgudda and then to….”

“Will we come back today only?”, Shreyas interrupted.

“Yes sir. I had been in this area for about 40 years now. I had taken many groups for trekking. I had covered all these areas in one day” Isubu replied confidently.

“Where are we going now?” asked Shreyas to Isubu, to confirm that we are going all the places he mentioned in the morning.

“To Kodekal gudda” he replied.

“What about Balekal gudda?”

“We can skip that, sir. Its already too late.”

We all looked at each other and smiled.

“Is this how he took the other groups to all the places he mentioned in the morning?”

We trekked for about an hour, munching some bakery items that Suzy had got.

“We want to have lunch. Is there any water place nearby, so that we could wash our hands after lunch?” asked Shreyas. We had got lunch packed from Ujire.

“Yes. There is. But we have to go out of the way for that.” said Isubu.

“Is it nearby?”

“Yes. It is closely.”

“Okay. Then lets go there”, we all said.

So he took us in a different path, leading to the water source. We walked for a while, when Isubu said “You all wait here. I will come in a moment”.

We were puzzled. What happened? Why did he ask us to wait? Why are we not going together?

Charmadi Ghat, Karnataka

He suddenly disappeared into the bushes and then appeared on the other side. Since we were at some higher altitude, we were able to see him. He later took another turn and disappeared into the forest. It started raining again. This time I used the umbrella, because the intensity of the rain started increasing. After some time, he shouted from the place where he had taken the turn. “Come here”.

Shreyas and I went as soon as we can, followed by others. We reached where he was standing and asked what had happened. He said:

“I just wanted to confirm where the water source is?”

Shreyas and I were shocked. Was he really here for 40 years? He said he knew each and every place!

“Do you know where it is now?” I asked him

“Yes. Its down in the valley here”

“How long will it take to reach there?”

“Half an hour”

I asked Shreyas “Do we really need water source? Its anyway raining, and there was water everywhere”

“Ya. Lets check with others and decide” he replied.

Everyone said, we will go back to the original route. We can have lunch wherever we get plain land.

Our guide said “Lets not go back to that route. It will be round about. There is a short cut from here. We can take that”

We all agreed. We found a plain land nearby and had lunch there. After lunch we moved towards the “short cut”. This was not at all a trek route. Onto our left was huge and steep valley. Onto our right was steep hill. We could not even see the top of the hill. We were right at the middle of the hill and there was no proper route. Moreover, it was raining. A gentle slip, and there would be no sign of us!

Charmadi Ghat, Karnataka

“How far is it?” I asked him.

“Its here only. Just 5 minutes” He replied.

“How far is it?” I asked him again after 20 minutes.

“Its here only. Just 5 minutes” He replied.

“What?”

He could see Monika already struggling. Anand encouraging her to trek.

He replied “If we are this slow, then it will take time”

“How far is it?” I asked him again after about 10 minutes.

“Its here only. Just 5 minutes” He replied.

“Huh” I was frustrated with this answer.

“Have you come in this route before?” I asked him

“There is nothing called route, sir. Wherever you go that itself is the route” he replied.

I looked at Suzy, who was behind me. Both of us were laughing.

“We are lost.” I whispered to Suzy.

“No doubt we are. After all he has been in this area for 40 years” he said.

After a while, we were able to see the top of the hill.

“We just have to reach the top of this hill” he said. It wasn’t that steep anymore. And it looked that we would reach in another 5 minutes. All of us ran towards the peak. Isubu was waiting for Anand and Monika, who came after about 10 minutes.

We could see nothing from the top. It was just clouds all over. We could not see the valley, nor the ranges nearby, nor the forest nearby. Our guide was restless, marching towards the left and right of the peak. He came and announced

“Do you know where we are?”

“No”

“We are at Balekalgudda”

Charmadi Ghat, Karnataka

We were puzzled. Isn’t he supposed to take us to Kodekalgudda?

“I still don’t understand how we came here” he continued.

Suzy replied “I know. We were lost. And thats why instead of going there, we came here.”

He asked us to take some rest, and he went to see which part of Balekal gudda we are in. He soon disappeared into the clouds.

Thankfully, the rains have stopped. We cracked a few PJs while waiting for Isubu.

“Now we are completely lost. We are at Balekalgudda. And we don’t know which way to go. And our guide is not there.”

“How do you know its Balekalgudda?”

“Our guide said it”

“He also said he is lost. So is this really Balekalgudda?”

While we were laughing, I could see the frustration is Anand’s face. He was laughing for the sake of laughing. Perhaps he was thinking “You idiots. You are laughing. All the way while climbing this peak, Monika was shouting at me. And you guys are laughing. Huh”

After some time, we could hear Isubu calling us from a distance. We all started walking towards that place. All of a sudden the clouds started moving at a fast pace. From the valley to our left to the valley towards our right. The force of the wind was literally pushing us. We managed (after a few of us losing balance due to the heavy rush of winds) to reach the place where Isubu was sitting beside a rock, to get protected from the harsh wind.

“Let us wait here until the clouds are cleared. Only then I will be able to decide which way to go” he said.

We looked at the time. And it was 5pm. The clouds showed no signs of clearing, atleast for next half an hour.

“How long will it take to reach the road?” I asked.

“About an hour” he said, and continued “I can do that in an hour. If you are this slow, then we might take more!”

“Isn’t it high time we start our way back? Its getting late. Soon it will be dark, and we will be completely lost after that.” I said.

“Yes. But our guide is lost. Which direction should we go?” Anand asked.

I did a few calculation about directions and said “I think we have to go this way”

Suzy immediately said “Even I told the same to Shreyas. He rejected my idea saying Badanekayi. Our guide only doesn’t know. You know anthe?” (Sorry for the slang here!)

“There is no use standing here, waiting for the clouds to clear. We will get down. Since we won’t have clouds there, we will be able to know where we are.” I said.

“Yes” Suzy said and started walking towards the direction we decided upon, and which was Badanekayi according to Shreyas 🙂

Very soon, we found a small and narrow path. It looked as if it is a trek route. We got down a little further, and all of a sudden the clouds disappeared. We were able to see the surroundings, the ranges, the forest, everything. We were now below the clouds.

“Sir, sir” shouted Isubu.

“Can you see that rock?” he asked “That is Kodekalgudda”

Charmadi Ghat, Karnataka

I was able to resemble it to the photo I had seen in one of the blogs.

“Oh yes. It IS Kodekalgudda” I said

“We were supposed to go there. I don’t understand how we came here” said Isubu.

“Its okay. Atleast now, do you know how to get back to where the jeep is waiting for us?” I asked.

“Yes. I know” he replied, as usual.

Suzy, Shiva and I were following Isubu, as he was rushing with high speed towards Kodekalgudda. We had to go fast as it soon start getting dark. But Monika was very tired. And she was walking very slowly. Anand was also tensed, thinking if we could every make it to our room at Ujire today. Shreyas was walking slowly behind them, so that he could keep an eye on us who were walking fast, and an eye on Anand and Monika too, who were tensed and walking slowly.

We all finally reached Kodekalgudda, and our guide wanted us to go to the base of the rock and spend some time there. We all were too tired and too frustrated to go there. We decided to continue our trek towards the road, where our jeep is waiting for us. Suzy, Shre and Shiva moved along with Isubu, and I was following Anand and Monika.

Charmadi Ghat, Karnataka

For the next one hour we continued to trek down. This did not look as a trek route at all. Perhaps he is taking us through a shortcut. There was absolutely no route. It started getting darker, slowly. Now, we could hear the vehicles’ movement on the road. We also could hear a few vehicles honking while taking a turn in the ghats. We continued to trek down. But after some time, I could not hear any vehicles’ movement. I was wondering if we got lost again. But I kept my thoughts to myself. The only people who could hear my voice was Anand and Monika, who are already tired, and would not want to hear that we are lost again. Others were quite a distance ahead.

While we continued to trek down, we heard Isubu shouting “Hellooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo”.

We finally made to the place where everyone was standing and shouting “Hellooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo”.

“What happened?” we asked

“We are lost again” said Shiva.

“Oh no! Not again” said Monika, and stopped immediately where she was. She did not want to get down and climb up again if we were lost.

Anand was equally frustrated “Why is he getting us through this route, if he did not know the way?”

Soon, Isubu climbed up to where we were, and said “I got the route. Follow me.”

We had not choice but to follow him. He climbed up a little distance and then got down in a different direction. We all followed him blindly. After about 10 minutes, he started shouting again “Hellooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo”. Everyone stopped immediately where we were.

“I think he is lost again”, said Monika.

Charmadi Ghat, Karnataka

And she was right. He was lost again. But at least this time, he was able to find quickly that he was lost. It was almost dark. About 7 in the evening. We could not even hear the vehicles anymore.

There was a huge rock, next to where we were standing. Shreyas said “If we lose our way again, we will come back here and stay. The rock is the only place where there will be no leeches.”

“Oh no” said Monika.<br>

“Should we be prepared for the worst” thought Anand. He was not talking anything. He was too frustrated to talk. He was keeping all his thoughts to himself. Moreover, he is also encouraging Monika to walk, who was very very tired.

Again, Isubu led us, in a different direction. We walked for about 10 minutes and we were able to spot the light from the vehicles moving in the road. That was a huge sign of encouragement. But it was getting darker. And the vehicles visible were far. Very far. While we were thinking this, we saw a vehicle that passed close to us! “We are not that far now.” we thought to ourselves. But it was dark now. Shreyas had bought two LED torches that helped us a lot. Shiva also said he had a torch. He asked Anand to remove it from his backpack, as he was too tired to remove the bag and take the torch out. Anand placed his hand in the bag, to take the torch out.

“I am not getting the torch” he said.

“Oh No!” Shiva said

“What happened?”

“I forgot the torch in the room at Ujire”

We managed with the two torches Shreyas had got. Shiva, Shre, Suzy and Isubu were going with one torch. Anand, Monika and I had the other. It soon got very dark. And to add our frustration, it started to rain heavily.

I again heard a call “Hellooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo”. And I was shocked. “Did we lose our way again?” I thought to myself. I observed that Anand and Monika did not hear that. Maybe I did not hear that. Maybe I was just day-dreaming.

“Hellooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo” I heard again but it was fainter this time. And Anand and Monika missed it again. Immediately we heard a vehicle honking. And I could feel that the sound was coming from somewhere nearby.

We were walking down slowly. Watching each and every step. Flashing light to every step that we take. The other group were just a little ahead. Everyone of us were completely wet. Rain was pouring down. The path that we were walking had actually turned into a stream. Water was flowing down the path with decent speed, making it all the more difficult for us to walk. We would slip at each and every step we take.

“Anaaaannnndddd…. We are standing on the road” shouted Shreyas, to encourage us.

“Yes. I can see that.” replied Anand.

We were getting down the steep hill very slowly. Shreyas guiding Anand from the road. Finally we made it onto the road. The jeep was waiting for us. We were supposed to reach there by 5. But we made it by 8:15. Once each one of us were on road, we celebrated. Shouting. Jumping with joy.

Charmadi Ghat, Karnataka

Shreyas said that the jeep driver also helped us finding our way back! When Isubu shouted for help, he immediately responded. He also honked to make sure that we are on the right way! “Oh so this was the ‘Heloooo’ that I had heard last” I thought to myself. “Thankfully we were not lost this time.” The jeep driver also switched the vehicle on to flash the headlights in the direction where we were getting down.

Slowly we got into the jeep. And started towards Ujire.

“Three Cheers for our group” shouted Shreyas.

“Hip Hip……” “Hurrayyyy”

“Hip Hip……” “Hurrayyyy”

“Hip Hip……” “Hurrayyyyyyyyyyyyy”

Since we made it to final destination of our eventful and memorable monsoon trek… Yes. We made it, despite heavy rain. We made it, even though it was dark. We made it, in spite of getting lost. We made it.

 

Trek Starting Point

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