Nagada to Tada (Jan 17-18, 2009)

Nagada Trek Poem

At four in the morning, Sleepy and yawning
Reaching pick up points, Exercising the joints
Assembling at Koyambedu, For the drive towards Satyavedu
Thirty six in vehicles seven in all, An informal roll call
Reshuffling bag packs and stuff, And people who came in a huff
Stopping for breakfast at six, It was a tough job to fix
Pongal and idlis and vadas too, Without much ado
The coffee was welcome..the milk arrived, Most important there was loo on the side
With bellies full and kidneys drained, Towards a village the cars they strained
Needless to say, Water bottles had to be picked up on the way
In a school yard the cars were parked, As a welcome the dogs they barked
No dearth of an audience, For in the ambience
Were the young and the old, Or a kid behind a saree fold

Then there was a distribution spree, Of food packets and bottle three
With loaded bag packs the backs did arch, Then began the steady march
Through pathways in green fields, Wondering about the yields
Then dirt roads easy walk ..there was no fear
A while later the pebbles and round stones said the water was near
Stepping gingerly over the rocks, Trying hard not to wet the socks
Peter’s ambitious plan to trace the river..right to its source
All along its rocky course
He had to abandon the preplanned trail
For the benefit of the old and the frail
A less arduous route seemed sound, and another route was found
The team gathered near rippling clear water
For a swim or a splash and a meal thereafter
‘Move it’ move it said Peter to the rest
Again began the left right left
The path was steeper and the going tougher
As the terrain became rougher
Resting beneath a gooseberry tree
Ate raw bitter fruits for free
Far from the madding crowd
Humbled by the hills so proud
No computers to stare at
No traffic jams to combat
No mundane chores
Or the chatter of bores
An overwhelming serenity and calm
The air a soothing balm
Twelve hours since the start of the action
Peter gave the group an option
Of staying back in camp one
Thirteen who did not want to spoil the fun
Of the more adventurous and able
Stayed back on a rocky table
Armed with some food and paper plates thirteen
Including the guides the tummies were fifteen

A campfire was lit
Each one did his bit
Water was got
Poured into the lone pot
Of the food packets stock was taken
A rationing undertaken
The food had to stretch for three meals and more
The camp was way way beyond any provision store
Noodles were crushed and tossed into the pot
Spices were added even before the water was hot
A watched pot never boils its said
Seemed true to everyone’s head
The noodles were made finally
Twas’ somewhat watery
But when the stomach is empty…even noodles not so fine
Tastes simply divine
Necessity they say is the mother of all invention
The plates were to be washed..and kept in one’s possession
For the next days soup…it was said in no uncertain tones
They were to be made into cones
Under the starlit sky
One experienced a different kind of high
There were games
And an introduction of names
No mosquitoes no insects no hint of snakes
A constant rattling sound…some creature makes
Those with sleeping bags slept well never mind the forty degree slope
Optimizing the height was their only hope
Those on the grass had a different story to tell
Their blankets got wet the clothes as well
The early morning sun in the horizon
Dispelled all tension
The sunrise was a glorious sight
Forgotten were the woes of the night
Morning ablutions over… the fire was lit again
soup..this time it was right as rain

It was drunk from paper cones
In approving tones
The pot emptied was used for noodles
The praise.. there was oodles and oodles
at nine thirty in the morning..began the trek from the lair
Spirits were high and there were songs in the air
Walking at a steady pace reached a stream at noon
All got into the water rather soon
Feasted on rusks and squeezy jam
An odd paratha or two..all vanished Ram Ram!!!
Back to the village at four in the noon
The school verandah was quite a boon
To rest weary legs and plan for food
The tea and bajjis never tasted so good
Twas brought by the energetic ones of the group
Who for an hour did troop
In search of a place that dished such fare
At costs so low…twas no compare
What large heartedness do the locals show
Someone gave a shiny flask all aglow
Another gave all of his roasted peanuts
For the town trekking nuts
Camp two came rather late in the night
They had got into a fight
With forest officials …over some rules and regulations
About staying in the hills and permit obligations
They had glorious experiences…but their immediate need
Was a place that could feed
Their hungry bellies..they were starved
as their rations were halved
In the middle of the night a dhaba was located
Plastic tub chairs were allocated
The owner and his wife
Had a time of their life
To cater to people mad with hunger
Twas surprising their shanty didn’t come asunder

The purely vegetarian joint ..the principle did fade
Omelletes that got eaten before they were made
Fully sated..tired but happy
The exit was snappy
It was almost three
When folks reached home after the spree
It seems camp two had a spectacular experience
Thanks to peters GPS and expedience
They camped at eight
At 600 m height
With the help of Guru
Peter went further up the meru
In the night
with scythe and flash light
For a water source necessary
An indispensable accessory
Having satisfied themselves went back to the camp
The night was cold and damp
Their morning trek began at six thirty
After two rusks and no tea
All was forgotten after a dive in waters cool
From rocky heights into a deep water pool
Karthikeyan who could not swim at all
Jumped right in ..twas a twenty foot fall
All ordeals were small price to pay
To witness nature’s way
Small price too see at close quarters
Human nature at its very best….age, colour borders!!!

Poem by: Rani

Trek writeup:
36 members (of which several new) completed a challenging, maximum-action packed 48 hour weekend trek from Saturday 3am till Monday 3am which they are unlikely to forget for long time to come…

Nagada (Nagala/11) was different from all previous Nagala’s – the trail started along a new stream originating from the Nagalapuram mountain range. This was deep inside the remote and less accessible rural areas, somewhere between our usual Nagala entry point (Southeast) and Tada (North). Thanks to Google Earth we were able to identify an access road through a very scenic landscape. The landscape was filled with green and golden brown crops as far as the eye could see and bordered at the horizon were the imposing Nagala mountains. You city residents have no clue what you’re missing out there…

Seven cars were parked at the last village 2km from the base of the mountains. We picked up two local guides from the village which would come in handy later on (they took us along the exact trail we had planned through Google Topomaps). The river had clear, running water which allowed us to proceed with minimal weight in our back packs and refill our bottles along the trail. We trekked along a pre-existing trail for around 5km along the river which was winding its way inside the valleys surrounded by the Nagala mountains on both sides. We noticed some tourists along the way who had come to picnic to this less known place. We reached two scenic, deep pools where we took our lunch and a refreshing dip. As usual the parotta’s and squeezy jams were a treat for our taste buds. Beyond this point the trail disappeared and the guides informed us that it would be difficult to proceed as we would encounter steep rocks and dense bushes. (read – start of a future difficult CTC trek 😉

In order to optimize the time and reach our original target with this less experienced group we decided to back up a bit and follow a pre-existing trail. This took us up the hills along a mountain ridge rather than following the stream which was longer and more difficult. The trail was fairly steep uphill and after a 2 hour climb we reached an altitude of around 500m from which we had scenic views on the surrounding plains below. As the group was moving slow and reaching our initial Nagada goal became unlikely we decided to split up the team in two sub-groups – 13 members and 2 guides set up camp at a nearby river with running water and would return along the same trail the next day.

The remaining 23 participants proceeded further deep inside the no-mans land between Nagala and Tada for another couple of hours towards the stream from which the Tada falls originate. The terrain was tough – no pre-existing trail, just walking across hill slopes sprinkled with small rocks, long grass and some bushes here and there. We watched the sunset from a huge rock on top of a local hill that gave us a 360 degree view of Nagada – hill slopes as far as the eye could see, disappearing into the air far away at the horizon. So peaceful, so beautiful, cool climate, so far away from the civilized world in all directions. These are the moments that stay with you for a lifetime. Pity the weekends are so short or we could enjoy longer in these scenic surroundings… We trekked for another 1 hour in darkness and finally set up camp on a flat, open space around 1km from the source of the river.

We set up a camp fire and cooked Maggie Masala Noodles – yummy, what a feast after a very long day of trekking. Everyone rolled out their mats and we were soon asleep under an open sky with countless bright stars, more then you can ever observe from within our light polluted cities. The next morning we woke up and the outside of all sleeping bags, clothes and back packs where soaked due to heavy morning dew. The team started at 7AM and proceeded on the North-East direction; towards the river. We passed the 3rd day campsite of our Nagala/10 (4-day Nagala-Tada) trek. Few have ever entered this remote no-mans land. It’s like walking on a different planet. The trail along the river was very scenic – we proceeded over the rocks sprinkled in the river which was flowing with clear water, a lush green forest cover on top. We sometimes had to scale steep rocks and go through bushes on either side of the river to overcome steep drops and deep water pools along the river.

We encountered several beautiful pools and mesmerizing waterfalls of different sizes and shapes, all filled up with crystal clear water and surrounded by beautiful carved rock formations. We splashed, dived and enjoyed in several pools along the way – so refreshing, so pure, so tender on the skin. Several daredevils dived from a 10m high rock in the famous “leave” pool, including some who could not swim 😉 The cameras clicked away many amazing snaps. Around noon we finally reached the top of the Tada waterfalls where we splashed in the last, beautiful pool and cooked up some damn tasty vegetable soup with Maggie noodles. Double yummy! Everyone was quite hungry at this point. Next, we proceeded along the mountain ridge till a vertical viewpoint 300m above the falls where we could see tiny people far below us. The views from here on the Tada valley below are simply beyond description. Sitting on a vertical edge high above the valley floor, cool breeze in your face, imposing rock formations in front of you, a deep sense of accomplishment, having stretched your body and mind beyond previous known limits to reach this unique place. Nothing comes close to this feeling.

Always on a tight schedule, the team again left this scenic viewpoint and proceeded downhill along a steep, dry mountain stream. As we made progress, the rocks became taller, the stream became steeper, our energy drained further, the views on the underlying valley were amazing. The stream finally took a 100m vertical drop which prevented any further progress and forced us to walk along a very narrow trail along a huge vertical rock towards a neighboring, less steep stream. From here we were able to reach down to the river in the Tada valley through which a good amount of water was flowing. It took us some more time to reach the check post from where Madhu (sub-group 1) came to pick up the drivers with his car 1 hour after sunset.

All drivers were taken back to the village where we had parked the other cars the previous day and came back around 9pm to pick up the others who had reached a nearby village using share autos. Deep hungry, we enjoyed some very tasty parotta’s and dosa’s in a daba along NH5 and finally reached Chennai post midnight. By the time I had dropped a few participants and reached home it was 3am. As usual, the weekend had been very long and tiring but I never felt more alive! So much experiences, so much beauty, so much adrenaline, so much friendship and team work, so much physical workout and so much peacefulness and relaxation packed in a regular weekend. I would not wanna miss it.

I trek therefore I live!

Write-up by: Peter

Trek organized by: Peter

Image galleries:

GPX trail for those who want to Geotag their photos.
KMZ Google Earth file to view the trail in 3D.

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