Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ethina Bhuja to Ombattugudda

The weather report was not so inviting ,with incessant rain lashing in the past few days in the shiradi ghat.

After constant monitoring for the final 3 days ,me and my friend Aravind finally decided to take the chance come what to may.We set out in a volvo ,got down at Kokkada and proceeded towards Shishila.After a quick breakfast at the gokhale's house ,we decided to head towards ethina bhuja

Above : Hornbills @Shishila

Above : Wooedpecker @shishila

Our guide was ready by that time and we took an auto to the start point.The initial stretch is similar to that of amedikallu.We first hit a small stream which we had to cross.We found another group taking their breakfast at this point.

Soon we were on our way ,the path getting steeper as we moved along.I was feeling the heat as we moved ahead.After every steep ascent in our path ,i had to take a break.Water was one thing i was glad i carried in abundance.The weather was slightly overcast yet the journey was getting harder as we moved ahead.The first break was when we view the ethina bhuja peak for the first time.We decided to break at this point and had some gulps of water.

View : Amedikallu as seen from enroute to Ethina bhuja peak @Lunch point

Channappa our guide kept prodding me to move on after each stop.We decided to break after we saw the peak was very near.We emptied the packed lunch that we that we had got.One of the reasons for our slow ascent was that both of us had quite heavy backpacks.We soon hit the final grassland at 1:15 pm.We decided to keep our bags here and headed towards to the peak.Reaching the peak is a bit tricky since the final path is a bit slippery and steep.

Above : Final reach to the peak

Above : Views from the peak

As we reached the peak ,we could have views of only one side since the the peak was slowly getting engulfed by the clouds.Ten minutes later we were totally engulfed by the clouds.After spending about 25 minutes on the peak we decided that it was time to head downhill.We reached the based of the peak at about 2:15 pm.The gang we had left behind soon joined us.After a few customary exchanges ,we decided to head towards the temple ,our resting point for the day.

Above : Temple where we stayed for the night

Above : Rainbow after a brief shower at a place nearby

I was sapped and the previous treks and i was feeling exhausted after the days trek.Both of us decided to sleep.After i got up,it was time to have tea.The weather suddenly changed and it looked like it will rain anytime now.We soon decided to cook rice.After rice was done ,it was time for the recipe of the day "bendakai-alugadde huli" .Aravind overlooked the cooking of the rice.I cut the vegetables and put them to boil.Channappa as always was curious as to what was cooking for dinner.Channappa and aravind overlooked the cooking of the sambhar .Soon it was time for garnishing :) .The sambhar was now ready.Having successfully evaded the monsoon for quite a while before we had finally completed cooking dinner ,just after sunset.

We soon sat and enjoyed the moonlight.At around 7:15 pm ,we finally decided it was time for dinner.The sambhar was indeed yummy.The menu looked like -Rice-samabhar,papad and pickle.It was simply amazing having dinner in the moonlit night.

We talked for a while in front of the campfire.We heard loud noises of crackers and villagers screaming from the village nearby.We immediately knew that it was elephant on the prowl.Elephants are one thing that i am a bit wary about.We decided to be a bit more cautious on the next day.We then decided that it was time to hit the bed.We hit the bed at 8pm and i was snoring away into the night.We got up early at around 6:15 am and started getting ready.Aravind oversaw the cooking of the breakfast cum lunch -Upittu and soon we decided to hit the trail at about 8:15 am.We hit the trail which took us through some dense forests initially.

Above : Sizzling display of morning sun
Finally we hit the grasslands at about 10 am .We took a good break of about 10 minutes here savouring the dense forests of kabbinale around us.A missed oppurtunity of ombattu gudda once again reminded me that the trek was still incomplete.

We walked along the peaks and finally hit the ridge from where we could see the ombattu gudda peak.Walking along this ridge is a wonderful experience with splendid views all around us.

We soon hit the estate road in about 30 minutes and moved on towards our quest for ombattu gudda.Finally we hit the forest patch which is the final hurdle before ascending ombattu gudda.We took one final break after we hit the grassland.The views as we start ascending ombattu gudda is worth seeing.We soon were criss-crossing the hills finally making it to the Ninth and the final peak.It was a moment to cherish -finally ombattu gudda had been conquered.We relaxed a bit taking a few snaps.

The weather was a bit cloudy and we decided to bid adieu to Ombattu gudda.The walk back was a bit sapping since it was really sunny now.We finally crossed over the forest patch and hit the estate road by 1 pm.

Above : View from the final peak

We decided to have lunch .We were soon worried about getting de-hydrated since we had a good 10-12 kms from here to the end of the estate.In the next 10 minutes the weather changed dramatically it was likely that it will rain,we quickly completed our lunch.

The next couple of hours was uneventful while we walked through the jeep track ,the weather playing hide and seek.It was a lot cooler which really saved our day for both of us.Soon it started drizzling .We finally hit hosakere at 2:45 pm,our guide bid adieu ,we thanked him for accompanying us through the trek

Another interesting incident was as we walked through the estate a number of people kept asking us if we were the two guys who were lost in Ombattu gudda.We kept denying the same and had to give a patient hearing to all.Personally i have seen some dumb people from bangalore -first time trekkers attempting and getting lost in ombattu gudda.I dont have any sympathy for such people who attempt such tough treks which has a history of people getting lost.I will not be surprised if we soon hear that this route might be closed for trekkers -all due to some mindless idiotic trekkers!!!.

We finally took the bus at 4pm from hosakere and headed towards mudigere.The bus from mudigere to chikmagalur was a real pain since there was some problem in the bus .It took us 1.5 hours to cover 32 kms.We booked our tickets and lazed around at the bus stand.We had dinner and set out for bangalore by the 11 pm bus.

Valikunju peak

I was keeping in touch for a long time with dinesh holla and finally had the oppurtunity to meet the yhai mangalore folks.After completing the Aramane gadde trek i headed towards Karkala.

I reached Karkala at about 6:30 pm and headed towards Ajakaru.I was picked up at Ajakaru by the Yhai team and headed towards Andaru village our base camp for the day.Badly needing a bath i first had a open air bath behind the school.We camped at a school in andaru village,it was a wonderful experience.Dinner was arranged at a local person's place,it was hot rice and sambhar for dinner.

Above : Adike thota @Andaru village

Soon we cozied up at the school and there was some good entertainment from kamath sir ,we chatted for about 1 hour before we decied to hit the bed at 10:30 pm.Somewhere in between when i got up ,it was raining very heavily.Got up early and freshened up.We had idli for breakfast and headed towards the valikunju peak.We parked our vehicles near the forest office.basavaraj would be our guide for the day.

The trek started with steep ascent at 8:30 am.It took me a while getting adjusted to the steep ascent ,coming from a tough aramane gadde trek.At about 9:30 am we hit the first break point ,a small rock platform.An interesing anecdote was narrated at one point by our guide Basavaraj.

Above : First break point

Sometime in 1994-One foreign couple was attacked by a huge python(this forest is known to have them in plenty).The male was attacked and was eaten up almost till the hips.His companion should very good presence of mind ,hurrying down to the base where she met basavaraj and managed to take him along with a sickle.All this is 30 minutes flat from the intial attack which basavaraj says is simply a miracle considering this path up and down takes atleast an hour in the best case.She soon slit the python and freed her companion ,all the while basavaraj was just a stunned and mute spectator!!!.The man survived the attack with some very deep wounds from the python sharp teeth.

Above : Spot of the python attack

As we moved along in the next hour we deviated towards our only water stream point for the day.After filling up the water bottles we moved along further.10 minutes from here we hit the first grassland.We stopped here for sometime cleaning up the leaches which had got onto our legs.

Above : First view of Valikunju peak

Above : View on the ascent to Valikunju peppered with some excellent weather

Above : View of the shola forests enroute to Valikunju peak

From here it was a 3 peak hike ,steeper than our intial path.As we moved along we spotted fresh bear droppings.Each break meant we were greeted by some amazing landscapes allround.The weather was ideal for trekking with clouds covering ,sometimes threatening with a huge downpour but later vanishing giving us some amazing landscapes.Finally we reached the peak at 12:30 pm ,a good 4 hour trek from the base.

Above : Views from the peak Valikunju

Everyone relaxed ,munching on some titbits that they had bought along.I rested for a while.Then it was photo time with people busy clicking snaps.Soon sudhir had got some gojju which was mixed with avalakki and distributed to all.It was a good munch on.Then everybody started dozing off.By 1:30 pm it was time for descent

The descent is a bit tricky ,very very slippery.One slip might and twist an ankle or tumble down ,which one has to be quite careful.Although as intially everybody thought that the descent would be quick ,it took us about 3 hours and we were back at the base by
4:30 pm.

Soon we all went to Andaru village.A pleasant surprise was waiting for us .Idlis and alu bajjis where waiting for us :).Everybody was glad and munched on to the surprise snack.I bid goodbye to everybody and Rakesh dropped me to Ajakaru from where i took a bus to Karkala.I then took a bus to dharmasthala.I bumped into a sea of people in dharmasthala :( .Quickly ate some dosa and returned to bangalore by the 11 pm volvo.

The team of yhai mangalore is really a great team to trek with,excellent team work and great camaradarie to see.It is one of the few teams where everybody pitches in.Special thanks to Dinesh holla for this oppurtunity to trek with team Yhai.

I am waiting for my next trek with Yhai Mangalore team.

Aramane gadde -part 3

We started a wee bit late on day 3 by 10 am after packing up the stuff at our camp site.We reached a point from where we planned to visit choudeshwari devasthana deep inside the forest.

It is a small rock which vikram believes has some mystic powers.We trekked along and thanked the godess choudeshwari for having a safe trek in this dense forest and thanked her for blessings bestowed on us.

Enroute to Choudeshwari devasthana on day 3

Above : Another view of Aramane gadde

View on our final descent to the highway

The trek to and back from this place was again through grasslands which took us close to an hour.We started back our journey and reached the peak from where we had to descent.The look of the steep path which was about 70 degrees or more made me into a tizzy.

This has to be the trickiest descent that i have made till date.Loose gravel all along with ravines dropping to more than 4000 feet both sides is quite a task.The sun coming out blazing which only made things more tricky.The views on all the sides of the shiradi ghats is simply amazing.One can view the gundya dam being built from here.On the descent we came across some semi -precious stones-rubies

Above : We descended from the peak that can be seen above

Above : On our descent we found some semi precious stones,seen here is ruby

We broke only once in between on this descent ,finally making it to the shola forest ,where we had our lunch.I decided to give it a break since i was feeling uneasy due to the heat.We finally reached the highway at 2:30 pm bringing to an end a memorable trek.

I was dropped in a jeep till the choudeshwari devasthana of the highway from where i took a bus to dharmasthala enroute to Valikunju trek.

Aramane gadde part 2

Day 2 woke up early and had tea.Went up a small peak nearby.Came back and freshened up.By now the breakfast was ready-avalakki

Above : View from where i slept :)

Had avalakki and off we were ready to go for the hike.We started at 9:15 am.We walked along some steep peaks and bypassing some of them in between.This period was quite tricky since all of the peaks has small rocks most of which have been displaced -the handiwork of wild boars which have been looking for some roots and starch berries below the ground.

Each step is tricky with valley on on side and nothing to hold on to the other side.After 2 hours of tough trekking we came along to a small peak which would further lead us to the highest peak in the area -Peak 6960.We took a small here just before the ascent below a small tree.We enjoyed the gentle breeze here and had some water.Somewhere as we crossed on this path we are separated by dense tropical evergreen forest on one side and small shola patches on the other side.This area is a bear path and both of us tredged cautiously and vikram stopped by on hearing the slightest sound in the noiseless forest that we were trekking along.

Above : View enroute to peak 6960

View from peak 6960

Above : Undulating hills on the descent from peak 6960

Above : Enroute to basecamp from peak 6960

Off we started on a animal track from here.Again the final ascent to peak 6960 was a real tricky one with lots of small rocks displaced making climbing very difficult.

Finally we reached the peak 6960 at around 11:30.We rested here and chatted along exchanging ideas about nature.The view from this peak will blow anyone of his feet.Some very very dense forest can be viewed from here ,thick canopy of evergreen forests going as far as the eye can see.This is one of the moments that i will cherish for a long time,some very dense core forests peppered with some great grasslands.

We started from peak 6960 ,taking a different route as we started back taking a couple of breaks inbetween.The return journey was again from some amazing grasslands undulating humps ,we came back to the basecamp by 2pm and we had lunch and relaxed.

I dozed off after lunch.Woke up and caught up with faint sunset.The gang had tea together and chatted for sometime.The day ended and i hit the bed at around 10pm.Somewhere around 11:30 pm the folks spurred up the fireplace which had gone dull ,leading do a loud growl in the valley ,there was a silence at the camp.At midnight i was awakened to a drizzle ,i was quick to safeguard my camera.

The next morning chat confirmed that it was a tiger which had growled the previous night.One of the guys also showed some old tiger dropping near our camping place.This place is one of the closest i have come to the big cat-truly a great experience

To be continued...