This was my second trek with CTC and i was looking forward to it in a big way. I was preparing myself for the trek with fitness et al for more than 2 weeks and finally when the trek mail came just 2 days before i nominated immediately. My friend mohan also nominated and we decided to bring his car since going by bike would be difficult after a 2 day trek.
Then we reached the water source in 10 mins time and refilled our bottles. Those willing to stay behind were told to look after the bags and the others left all their stuff down and carried only the bottles. Surprisingly almost everyone agreed to go for the 800m peak and only about 5-6 people stayed behind. Slowly the team led by peter and alex moved on in its mission to conquer the 800m peak. Eventhough we had started at 650m and it was just around 150m higher, it was a little bit testing. The route was pretty decent to start with. But the higher we got it became a lot sunnier and also the elevation became more steep. But as in Venkateshwara there was tall grass all the way to hold on to and also the rocks were strategically placed in such a way that it was as if the mountain wanted us to conquer her. We stopped enroute to regroup and take a breather. Peter was describing the view and also the localities where and all we were. Then we proceeded towards the 780m peak. The approach was same all the way with the occasional big rocks that we needed to climb. Peter and co were already up that peak and were waving tous from there. This inspired us more and we almost doubled up towards the peak. It was almost right at the top where there was just one slippery piece of solid rock. But considering the destination so near that part was overcome the easiest ever. The view from the 780m itself was amazing. We could see the whole valley from there. The best part was it was blistering hot due to the sunbut still we could get a cool breeze all the way. We had lots of photo sessions there and spent some 10 mins there. That is a short time considering the time we took to come there. But it was long considering the next destination.
The next destination was 800m and it was right before our eyes. We could see clearly the 800m peak from our present spot and that was a big inspiration for us to keep going. We hurried on to the next peak. That was a further 100 meters away.
Here i had Jayanth and Vishnu for company. It was a superb company. We were chatting about various things and also admiring the scenery. There
was the regular shout from Biju “Jothi kelambunga…keep moving…” from the back. En route we stopped occasionally for a sip of water or for a photo shoot. The location was superb. It was a mixture of greenery, dried grass and the odd rocks. We even
saw a burnt out campfire. Finally we reached the 800m peak. It was a great feeling and i felt a tremendous
sense of achievement. Though this peak was higher than the other ones, it was less like a peak and more like a flat surface,but the view below made up for it. What a location!!! We could almost see the whole region and the whole Nagala mountain range was visible.
We looked down and even spotted our camping spot. It was like a small ant. As usual it was a blistering sun above, but a cool breeze around. In my enthusiasm, i hit my
leg on a rock and my fore thumb started bleeding. But that was the last thing in my mind. Who would want to come this far and this high and think about the wound. The more
adventurous guys got down to a small rock that was jetting out the other side of the cliff and posed there. But even looking down from that height gave goosebumps to me and i had butterflies in my stomach. I decided to sit down near the cliff under a small
tree where everyone was sitting and savor the moment. I was just wondering, the view is superb, the cliff is great and people are sitting there…still i am afraid to go and
sit there, and the funny thing was this peak is just 1/10th of Mount Everest and i was afraid of it. I decided then and there one day am surely gonna overcome my fear of heights and give a pose there. We spent around 15 to 20 minutes there and proceeded back to the water source. With the satisfaction of having gone to one among the
highest points in Nagala, all of us returned back. Infact everyone’s bottle was completely empty by the time we started the descent and no one even felt the need for it.
Maybe it was because we were heading back to the water source. But to many including me, it was the personal satisfaction at being able to conquer such heights and being there that made us forget the sensation called thirst.
We reached the source around 10:30 and filled up our water bottles. We kept bragging about our achievement to those that didn’t come. We also had our mini-breakfast since we wanted to save our stomachs for the big lunch we were gonna have. We had planned to have Noodles, Sandwiches and other stuff for the lunch. Many including me filled our bottles with Glucose and within 20 mins we were all up
and moving. Our first halt was supposed to be a Big pool and all were looking forward to it. Little did we know that this was gonna be the most adventurous part of the trek. We passed our camping spot and it was already blistering hot. The sun was burning at us and trying its best to roast us. But we were upbeat and walking briskly since we had just had our water break and were very much looking forward to the next pool where we can unwind ourselves. We first headed to a small hill top. But then everyone stopped and we took a detour to another side.
In the new route used to be a waterfall and enjoying in the waterfall was on everyone’s mind. We headed towards it and we arrived at what looked like the top of the falls. But it was bushy and full of thorns and so we took a turn and
thought of going to the falls by the side. We thought we reached the tip of the falls and it was indeed the tip of the falls. But the water part of it was missing. There was not even a drop of water anywhere nearby the cliff and when we looked down, we couldn’t see the base. So we assumed the water would be there and descended the cliff. Aishwarya Rai was boasting in Cannes that the Ravan team were climbing towards the top of a falls and she could feel the force of the water nearby. But we guys were doing a different thing. we were infact climbing all the way along the slope of the falls heading towards
the base. The descent was a little bit tricky and the camera people had a hard time negotiating the drops without damaging the camera. We people pitched in and slowly and safely the camera went down. This was the first of a series of exceptional teamwork that the group showed all the way till the end. We reached the base of the falls and we were in for a big surprise. The water had vanished into thin air and all that we could find was dry leaves. It was like that vadivel comedy. “Who has stolen the water???!!!!”
We kept walking for how long no one knew. There was no indication of water and time and we kept walking and walking….It was during this walk that people showed their first signs of fatigue.
Kaushik was totally drained out and with his sprained leg he found it tough. Then there was Jothi who was also fatigued. Supriya had some difficulty walking. Then there was
dinesh, he started cramping really badly and found it tough. Unfortunately he was wearing a jean and also his shoes looked big and heavy. The bottom line was everyone was totally
out of water supply and with the blazing sun draining every energy we had, the going was tough.
Peter was long gone and he had said he wont return until he finds water. That was our only hope which kept us going. I walked with various partners during the course. Initially i started with sait, then for sometime i was with the camera crew, then i was
with Kaushik and co, for sometime i was with arun, ramesh and co and most of the time i was with alex, ram and supriya. Finally i sighted peter and some people who had gone in the front grouped at a spot under the trees.
Peter, Alex, Ashwin and Biju started frantically searching the GPS and old maps for a sign of water or exit. According to the GPS, there was a small hill left
of us and crossing us would show us water. We decided to take some rest and then we started again to cross the hill. It was an easy climb, but the descent was tricky. There was no definite path, just a sandy descent and behold we saw the first signs of water.
It was a small pool and we could see it from the top itself. I was eagerly looking forward to having some water and jumping in when we heard instructions not to go near
the water. Yes, it was dirty water and we had to just be satisfied on seeing water. The next part was the most challenging. It was high noon i guess and the sun was at
its merciless best. We kept going on the trail all along without water and with no signs of it. There were the occasional teasers where there will be water in small ponds but
dirtier than our cooum. No way we could drink that. Slowly and steadily the pace of the group was dropping. People were almost reaching the threshold of their tolerance and many
shoulders were dropping. When i mean people that includes me. Even though i did not feel any fatigue, my pace slowly dropped. I was again rejoined by my trek buddies jayanth and vishnu. Vishnu went ahead and me and jayant were lazily walking to god knows where. We two became so desperate that we started looking if we can drink the water oozing out of rocks. But sadly that water was also very bad. I started taking breaks at more regular intervals and it became so regular that we were joined by Biju, Jothi and the blue shirt guy from the back. That was a big group and me and the blue shirt guy took the role of sweepers and we started pushing jothi. That gave me some confidence and i started increasing my pace.
We could see the others at a distance and i almost started running thinking that they found water. Indeed they did find water and they were all grouped together. But the only problem was water was beneath a 50m cliff we didn’t have any means by which we could get down there since unfortunately we lost the rope that we had. So it was like back to square one and we were huddled together under shade contemplating our next course of action. We checked the GPS and found out a water source same like last time just other side of cliff. Only this time the regulars were pretty sure where it led since they had been to that pool and it was close to the destination.
We took a break for around half hour and then started to climb the cliff. I was to follow Biju, Supriya and Jothi. Since both supriya and jothi were kinda low on energy i knew they would be quite slow and so i waited down chatting with ram, alex, raghavendra and mohan. I saw that the 3 were almost halfway the cliff and so
i started climbing. I thought by the time i reach them they will be on the top and so kept on moving. But it was a gross miscalculation by me and i found Jothi within 2 minutes of my climb. I kept pushing him non-stop to climb, but unfortunately he was tired out. Above me biju was having a tough time. He had to guide
supriya who was before him and then he had to come back to guide jothi behind him. He was doing an exceptional job in getting the two up. I decided to pitch in and help jothi who was immediately before me with his steps and kept pushing him. At a stage Biju was also very tired and he helped guide supriya up leaving jothi to me. But supriya could manage only another 10 mins and she was totally out. I really felt pity on Biju since he had a really tired supriya before him and an equally tired jothi behind him. I got slowed down and that was when fatigue slowly crept into me. I started feeling
a little drowsy. I tried to salivate my mouth with some water to freshen up and nothing came up. I started breathing hard to keep me awake because here i was caught up in traffic on the edge of the cliff with no way up or down and i cant afford to lose my concentration even for a split second. Finally the guys who waited down came up and alex and ram said they will take care of supriya. Biju then started pushing jothi and we moved a little paces up.
I suddenly saw jothi’s face light up and he started moving a little faster. I was wondering how the sudden change had come about and then saw the reason for the change. Peter was standing up and the guys had grouped almost on top of the cliff. Even my spirits soared and now i was moving in bursts. Jothi stopped at a place and he gently left way for me. Peter then came down to help out supriya and led her to the top. Then he again came to get jothi and lead him to the top. I was watching all this from near the top half asleep and was wondering damn this peter, how does he do it?? Here i am a 24 year old struggling and there he was almost a decade older than me and so energetic. I finally slept in between the rocks in a damn awkward position. I thought i was the only one asleep and when i woke up and went to the top i could see many of them down. And speaking of awkwardness, there was ashwin who was in the most bizarre position to sleep. He was holding on to a tree and sleeping while he was standing. Later he slept right below the tree. Now it was time for all of us to wake up and every single cell in my brain told me to continue sleeping. If not for raghavendra, i would have been sleeping more. He pushed me and finally i was on top of the cliff. Even though the cliff was an easy climb by way of distance and we had done bigger ones than these, the fatigue delayed us a lot. Then on the top Biju showed us the next course of action what we are gonna do and where were headed to. He showed us the temple where we must go and also the route how we should go. He then said that he along with ashwin and anand will leave late and take another route and the rest of us must go with peter in an easier route.
In between all this, there was another problem lingering. We were no longer the 60 we started with. There were 6 people including the driver and camera man of the TV crew missing and they had taken another route. Then there were another 5 people including the host who had taken another route. We were praying we meet them at base camp. Back to the trek, we hurried up behind peter since it was almost twilight and visibility was fast diminishing. I was reunited with jayanth and vishnu and we followed peter and we were almost half way down. Then peter stopped and it was decided that at this rate we will definitely not reach the bottom before dark and so he sent alex with a bag full of empty bottles to get water for us.
We then started moving so that if alex returns back he can meet us en route. Most of us including me were walking like zombies and i couldn’t believe how fast i was walking even at this stage. But one thing was sure, i didn’t know where i was going and it was just my legs and eyes working. My eyes were following the guy before me and the legs were taking me where my eye saw. My brain was totally blank. Me and vishnu kept a conversation going between us so that we don’t loose concentration and don’t feel drowsy also. It worked out well and we started doing a brisk walk. Now it had become pitch dark and everyone was out with their torches. Oh i forgot. My bag was left back with ashwin so that they can bring it in a shorter route. I was totally out on gas to even carry my bag. How i wish i hadn’t done that. My torch was left with them. But that was not the only reason i wished i hadn’t given them the bag. The real reason is yet to come. There were many of us without a torch and we decided a novel idea to manage that. We would walk in such a way that those without torch will go in between people with torches. The ones with torches behind will show light to the person in front without the torch and this will ensure that both have sufficient light. The idea was really surprising considering the situation we were in and god know how we came up with such an idea with most of our brains not working. This method worked out very well and we kept moving. But situation was growing very grim and we had people slipping and falling down. This was coupled with thorny bushes and pitch darkness and the pace went down.
At this stage Biju joined us and he took the usual role of the sweeper which he had done so well throughout. We kept moving non stop halting occasionally to negotiate thorny bushes and small ups and downs. Then we heard a loud thud and sadly one of the guys behind tripped and fell down on the ground. He was already damn tired and after this fall it was really difficult for him to get up. Peter then told us to stop then and there and he went ahead to get the water. Also behind us supriya had totally passed out and there was no response from her for our calls. In the midst of this you might be wondering where jothi is. Thats a totally different story and that starts where ours ended. Now back to our story, it was totally dark and we were awaiting the return of peter and alex. Some people became really desperate. There was a call made to some emergency service telling that we were caught in the forest without water and don’t know the way out. With every rustling of the leaves we would either be scared if its some animal only to be reassured by Biju that there are no animals here, or we would think thats peter coming and our faces will light up. Finally they did arrive. Peter came along with alex, bhargav and sherif (program host) They brought big bottles that we had to share in groups of four. Peter rushed up to supriya to check out on her with some glucose and a bottle of water. Finally i had that sip of water that i so longed for more than 10 hours. What a freshener it was. Our insides were charged up and i felt like i could do the trek all the way again.
We almost doubled up with the confidence that water was this time really nearby and within some 10 mins we reached level ground. There we met some locals who guided us to the water source and there it was right before my eyes. A beautiful pond and a huge mango tree above it. I felt like i had just reached heaven and there was an amrit lake waiting for me. I wasted no time. First i drank atleast a full bottle and poured some water over my head to cool down. Then i passed on the water to vishnu and he emptied it and gave it back. this process repeated for about around 2-3 times and finally i decided to get into the pool. It was a wonderful pool. Just 3 feet deep and ideal for us after the long trek. The water was kinda prefect. It was neither too cold nor too warm. We spent around 2 hours in the pool in pitch darkness. There was a campfire running nearby and the surrounding were just apt. We massaged each others legs and shoulders and relaxed in the water. Biju and Kannan then took an attendance to find out how many of us were missing. We had already got the news that one person had already reached tirupathi and he had exited the forest around 5 itself. Still there were about 10 missing and we later found out that 6 people were present at the village. That left 4 people still missing. Peter and Alex filled up some bottles and went uphill to find out the others. It was about half hour when they returned with Ram. Ram then narrated his adventure. He got cramps in his legs and that had slowly got to his stomach. He had vomited and was totally dehydrated and passed out. Seems he was out for around 45 minutes and he himself woke up and was on his way down when peter and alex found him.
So it was 1 down and 3 to go. Those 3 people were Ashwin, Jothi and Anand. We first assumed that since they had crossed over the other hill they would
have reached the dam. So we didn’t worry much. We headed to the dam and stopped en-route at a temple to regroup. Again we took the head count and proceeded to the dam. That was when something quite startling and unexpected happened. Suddenly we saw a torch light
flash from the hill towards our right. That light kept flashing and that was when we realized the reality. Those 3 people we assumed to be at the dam were still there in the hill. We flashed lights back at them and the entourage stopped. At that time Vishnu got a call from ashwin and what we heard was quite startling. Ashwin was the lone man
standing and the others had passed out completely. He said they couldn’t walk down to the dam and that they needed help. For a first hand account of what his situation was,
check out hiswebsite
. We then emptied peter’s bag and it was filled with what water we could get and all the electral packets. Peter then proceeded along with prahalad towards the direction of the light. The rest of us proceeded straight to the dam.
From the dam we could see the village and finally it was destination reached for us. But still the trek was not over yet. There were 3 people still waiting to come down. We kept tracking the movements of peter all the way.
Prahalad was made to stay down as a marking point and peter went uphill. All the while we were in touch with the people there by phone. It was a ways of cheering them up and also assuring them that help is at hand. Most of the people at the dam were
asleep fast and some of us were chatting and kept vigil. Then we got a call from peter telling that the people there are tired and that he was not willing to risk moving and he is waiting for the rescue team to arrive. He also told the rest of us to go to the village and wait
there and only a few stay back. Oh ya i forgot to mention that. A rescue team was on its way from chennai. Actually ashwin had tried reaching us and since we were not available he had sent an SOS to people at chennai. Sujai, Guru and Ansar were on their way. The rescue team arrived in a few minutes and we could see ansar’s car come. That was a scorpio and he stopped the car right near the dam. Biju, me, kannan, ram, sandeep and
anand were waiting on top of the dam. It was planned that the rescue team take 2 villagers and go on top so that there is an easy way out. So we called bhargav since he knew telugu and the rescue team set on their journey up. The 5 of us returned to the village. As we returned we kept looking back at the mountain for the progress of the lights. We could see that rescue team on their way up and by the time we reached the village we saw the rescue team had reached them. Finally relieved, we took some rest. It was
around 5 in the morning and we were awoken by the roar of the other cars that came from the starting point. I went to the hand pump to drink some water and i thought i heard some shouting. My instincts said that the stranded group had reached the dam. But since the sound was feeble i was not sure. Then me and another person started filling a bottle with water so that we can give it to ansar who was waiting at the dam below
with his car without water. We were about to start when we saw the headlight of the scorpio moving and the light approaching us. My instincts were indeed correct and the remaining people along with the team reached the village and there was jubiliation all round. Our trek was indeed over.
It was a memorable trek that had a lots of cinematic instances to it capped by the climax of the trek. We carried evergreen memories of the trek. It was not just Nagala Hills conquered, it was also our inner selves conquered. We had subjected ourselves to the limits. During this trek we learned what true camaraderie was. We learnt that the word ‘WE’ is more powerful than the word ‘I’. We learnt to help ourselves and others. We forgot our pains and difficulties and went forward to help others. How many of us have done this during the normal life – helping others even when we are in the worst of states. That was a fulfilling feeling. This trek was both a discovering and a learning experience.
To conclude, i have to mention certain instances which truly exemplify the spirit of mankind.
– Remember kaushik, the one who was bitten by bees and who sprained his legs. he did an amazing job. He walked all through the way. At places where many were down and out he kept going on.
– Two people worth mentioning are Muthu and Sandeep. Those two carried kaushik’s bag and kept on encouraging him all the way. I really doubt if kaushik would have managed without you guys. Kudos to you 2 and take a big bow. I would have helped but i had to carry the trash bag and towards the end even i was drained out.
– Coming to the trash bag, i have to appreciate two people. I don’t remember the names. One is the blue shirt and another was the long haired. Both of them helped me out with the trash bag and we three alternated the bags.
– Another word of appreciation to arun, the guy who stepped on a bottle at the start. He made all the way through the trek and the appreciatory part was he was almost always with the leaders and even made it to the 800m peak with us.
– Special appreciation to Biju and the same blue shirt guy. If not for you two Jothi would not have even made to the cliff and we would have been further delayed
– Another mention to Biju, even when he had less water, he gave us water and also for the exemplary courage showed in helping supriya and jothi up the cliff. Not to mention peter and anand who also helped them
And here go the thank you’s
– A big thank you to supriya, jayanth and others who prepared that delicious noodles and also to Biju for the special sandwich.
– Thanks and sorry for the bag i gave to ashwin to carry. I was such a fool to have carried it over the difficult parts and to give the bag during the easy places. It further brought him difficulty.
– Thanks to vishnu and jayanth for giving me excellent company. If not for the nonstop talking we did and the regular encouragement amongst ourselves, sure we would not have walked that fast and great i got such superb friends in you.
– Thanks to mohan and raghavendra for helping me out in the final cliff.
– Finally, the biggest thanks to Alex, that elixir provider and constant chatter provider. Though i knew you through facebook long before, this was when i got to know you more and it was great being with you.
The bottom line is this was one absolutely awesome trek which am not gonna forget my whole life and a big thank you to CTC for providing such a wonderful experience and looking forward to more such eventful outings.