We reached the first pool of water, and someone drops his bag and glides into the water with theease of a fish, and he was out of the water in a flash and carried on with the trek with the dexterity of a mountain goat. There was no choice but to follow, something like a pull from the depths of the hills. And higher up the climb, the sound of water blasted through, a small waterfall, but we didn’t wait, the agenda was to reach the third pool before we stopped for a break. It was twilight but we had gotten used to the LED light, and one of the trekker turned around and said switch off the torches, that particular moment completely enraptured the mood of the space. With the lights off, the diffused light showed the beauty of the hills, the breath taking first sight after groping around in the darkness. I moved on with happiness which envelopes for no particular reason, just that moment and the moment well lived. The icy cold water along with the dawn invited us to the third pool.
A stop for a hot cup of tea and upma (a south Indian delicacy, which is sort of a last resort dish in few homes, sometimes well loved and sometimes well hated). Though it took me by surprise, I realized later on that, to have a royal breakfast of tea and actual cooked food in the trek was just the start and we had much more in waiting in the food section. After the break where some of us had the time to take even a short nap, we set out for higher grounds. And from this is where the actual fun began, the freshers tested the patience of the team leads and the team leads got to see the spirit of the freshers. The climb was hard, steep, required a mixture of skills, from trying to find a place for the foot to rest without rolling down the loose rocks onto the trekker below, to holding on to any rock, tree or plant for support. We realized treks are not just about walking but also dragging, rolling, slipping, climbing, bleeding ( the thorny plants and sharp edged rocks were just about enough to make sure everyone bled at least a little), clinging, hanging, and other doings to keep oneself from taking a nice plunge into the rocks below.
The trek exposed the true beauty of people, the helping hands and advice, the encouragement and care, to carry not just their load but also the loads of others when it got harder. And so we reached tired and worn out to the fifth pool by which we camped for the night. The tarpaulin sheets raised up and the firewood collected and heaped up for the campfire. After a refreshing dip in the pool, a nap and chit chat, everyone got ready for the treat of the day. Soup and biriyani is the last thing I imagined in a trek and well, there it was prepared in the middle of the forest which seemed to be transformed into a kitchen made of human walls, two torches and a firewood stove.
The men got to work, chopping and peeling while we women watched them cook. It was a sight to behold and the food turned out to be fantastic. Few of us played games and sang while others started to doze away in the warmth of their sleeping bags. The moon light shined down through the foliage, the air crisp and cool, the sound of water which seemed omnipresent slowly faded as we drifted into a seamless sleep. We woke up to realize no bed can match the beauty of sleeping outdoors. The dawn was refreshing, silent expect for the sound of water, and we got ready to scale the peak.The path was arduous, steep, but the view was brilliant, all the huffing and puffing seemed worth it. To lie flat on the rocks and look at the uninterrupted sky, was possibly one of the most peaceful moments of my life. For the trekkers who have seen better, the ascent to the peak didn’t suffice, they spotted a cliff and made their way for it, the 360 degree view they had from the cliff should have been scintillating. We then made our way back to the camp and after a quick lunch, the entire troop started for the downward decent. The decent was just as hard as the ascent, loose rocks, plants that comfortably gave away under the weight and slippery grounds. We continued with the decent until we reached the second pool, which was filled with kids from the social trek.
The kids loved the cool water, some shivered as they got into the pool, some totally blind with joy, it was a sight to behold. The tiny fishes in the pool were curious and brave enough to nibble and see what our feet were made of, a ticklish feeling which made afew of us jump up. After snacking on popcorns, we left for the base camp where the cars were parked.The kids from the social trek gave us company on the return journey, we walked on listening to various versions of rhymes which had close resemblance to the original version but not fully so, which made us roll in laughter. Few kids showed a tenacity which was unmatched even by adult trekkers. They wanted to walk and not be carried around, running into thorns and directing themselves towards the water. It was quite a task to make sure they didn’t hurt themselves but their persistence was astounding. I learnt just as much from them as I learnt from experienced trekkers. Once we reached the base, we bade them all good bye and started with the introductory session. To have the introductory session in the end was an ingenious idea, we walked ad mist strangers, we saw them for what they were, no preconceived notions, no judgments passed. To find out by the end of the trek what our co trekkers did for a living was eye opening, for once it was freedom from profession, career and jobs, to be seen for what a person is and not in terms of their education or livelihood was unraveling. And so we ended the trek, with a pit stop for dinner and waved our good byes and left back to civilization knowing we would come back for another adventure.
The CTCians did a commendable job, to patrol a group of 30 plus and to make sure everyone reachedsafely back to the base camp isn’t an easy task. The trip had its glitches when two trekkers hurt themselves quite badly during the climb. The organizers were patient and accommodative, lending a helping hand or word whenever our spirits dropped down. The entire trek was handled beautifully till the very end, thanks to the organizer Senthil Kumar. CTC is not just for any person looking for a get away from their mundane day to day lives, the treks tend to be life changing, when one finds himself/herself clinging to a tiny branch or rock for his/her life, it brings out a sense of gratitude for life as a whole. It teaches us to live every moment, for all we have got is just this moment. No words can suffice, no words can capture the emotions that one feels when looking out into the trees ad mist the hills. CTC is not a club but an experience, an experience to be continued