Ever since I had read about CTC in Economic Times, it was a burning desire to join the group for a trek. So Ramki’s note on a one day trek to Nagalapuram was a boon as I would not have to take leave from work on Saturday.
We assembled at Tidel Park at 5.30 am and then proceeded to Koyambedu to catch up with the others. Since 5-7 people had dropped out, the organisers felt the extra car space would take care of the bikers also. The organisers, Ramki and Raghuveer stocked up with food, checked for water, counted heads and 18 of us drove out in 4 cars to the foothills of the Nagala range.
The excitement among the first timers was palpable and the pleasant cloudy day was just right for an outdoor trek. We halted for breakfast at 8.30 am and then drove on to reach the base of the dam by 9.30 am.
Backpacks filled with food, water, fruits and Glucon-D , we started up the slope near the dam. The recent rains had left the forest green and lush. The path took us along the stream and it was surprising that we heard no birds or saw any kind of reptiles or insects.
There was high grass on either side and we crossed the stream at 2 places before we reached the first waterfall. Pristine clear waters and a small waterfall welcomed us. Ramki and Raghuveer had remembered to pack a coil of rope to help non swimmers across the stream. The water was bearably cold and it was a treat to wade across the stream and sit on the rocks. We continued after a short break and the path grew a little steep with rocks to hop across.
There were also some thorny bushes and overhanging branches to negotiate. Ramki and Raghuveer decided to stick to the beaten path as they were organizing a trek for the first time and felt morally responsible for the group.
We even put yellow post –it’s at vantage points to serve as markers for the return journey.
Unfortunately, about halfway up to the second waterfall, Hari Ratan’s young son Kartik found the going a little difficult and they requested to head back to first base and wait it out till we returned.
There was a discussion as father and son were keen not to disrupt the trek and insisted on going back to the waterfall alone. Both the R’s felt it was their duty to escort them back and the others decided to wait it out in a cave.
There was a dogs’ carcass stuck on a stick and we were all working our imaginations to the limit to see how it had reached there. Once Ramki/Raghuveer were back, we continued the slippery path upward. Lots of green foliage, the flowing stream and of course the now famous spot where the bees stung quite a few CTC’ians during the last trek !
With ample warnings, all of us quietly crept past the bee hives with one wary eye for a path of hasty retreat in case of an attack. Suffice to say that the eventless climb up gave some guys enough courage to shoot pictures of the hive on the downward trek ! The second waterfall had more force and it fell straight down from a high rock.
The pool had more water and Raghuveer and Ramki insisted on bathing under the falls. A few more joined but the others were content to just sit back on the rocks and enjoy the shade of the luxuriant foliage. Five of us ventured up beyond the waterfall but the going was getting a little tough and rather rocky.
We broke for lunch at 2.30 and parathas and pickle had never tasted so good ! The water bottles were replenished with the clear water from the waterfall and with food and water in our bellies, fresh energy flowed in our limbs. The time was already 3.30 pm and there was animated discussion whether we should proceed further up to the peak for the scenic view or start the climb down.
The organizers – the 2 R’s felt it would get late as the upward trek was more difficult and rocky. They felt it would be safer to be out of the forest before dark and there was also the thought of the 2 people waiting at first base. Finally the majority voted for a return and the downward descent began.
We reached first base and found a refreshed father and son awaiting our return. Some more fun in the cool waters of the stream before we headed back to the foot of the hills. On the return we could hear the chirping birds and we managed to make it to the cars as it turned dark. Some of us who got out of the woods early glimpsed a colourful rainbow in the sky. The clouds were threatening rain but it cleared out and we could make our car journey to Chennai without any problem.
I have never seen such camaraderie and goodwill even in known circles before. Every time I tripped or there was a slightly difficult stretch, there would be helping hands extended towards me.
Being a woman and old enough to be mother to most of the team made no difference and I felt absolutely at ease. Everyone was so friendly and easygoing that it made the experience truly memorable.
Hats off to first time organisers Ramki and Raghuveer for coordinating everything so well. The beautiful pictures posted on the net are ample proof of this.
Write-up contributed by: Sukanya Venkatachalam
Participants: Radha Viswanathan, Sriram, Ramkumar, Sathish, Raghuvir Reddy, Shankar, Vetri, Palanikumar RV, Ramki, Hari Ratan, Sumeet Kharbanda, Bhagathkumar, subhakant nayak, Sukanya Venkatachalam, karthik lakshmi ratan, Leonard Joseph, L. Balaji