CTC Emperor's Venkatagiri B'day Trek – Dhilip

Excellent write-up from Dhilip

CTC
Emperor’s trek to Venkatagiri 18th, 19th Febrarury – CTC
turns ‘4’ On a weekend when an array of 21 events (treks/bike trips)
were planned to celebrate the kuttipapa birthday, there was enough
excitement for the people joining in these treks. Everyone was eagerly 
waiting the special treat for the birthday trek, as emperor’s treks were
always famous for their emphasis on culinary skills.From concrete mode
to jungle mode . At 10.00 P.M I reached my room on Friday night.
Immediately the excitement caught me seeing the groceries and vessels in
my room. Masu was packing up all the stuff needed for cooking. Bala
(another roommate) was organizing Nagala west trek. So we were busy
separating

the food items for the 2 treks. Tying the ropes around the
vessel,packing some of the common items for the trek, inside the cartoon
box,we were set to travel from concrete mode to jungle mode. We had a
bath before starting as we will not be having any water for 2 days in
Venkatagiri, dry forest with hardly any pools/ streams with good water
source. Around 12.00 A.M, when we started had all the symptoms of being
in a jungle, 1) Tendency to walk more, 2) Tendency to collect dry woods,
3) Tendency to use a sleeping bag and searching for flat open space to
camp. At Tidel Park, Ankit and Aditi, Dhanush, and Senthil joined us,
sitting in the car along with the common gears competing for space
inside Shankar’s Scorpio. At Guindy, three more cars joined us. Uday,
Yuvaraj, and Alagappan groups joined us. Charantej was managing the
accounts for the trek and Senthil was collecting the forms from
everyone. We had Saurabh missing out due to confusion about the trek
dates. Maqibul (our SLR guy), arun, Jagdish, jagguraju, joined us in the
car completing the quota of 10 for Scorpio. Two guys Maqibul, arun were
initially about to come in a bike till Venkatagiri base camp, but they
joined us in the cars. We started from koyambedu at 1:30 A.M; we were 25
people inside 4 cars. Yuvaraj was the lead and our Scorpio Shanker was
sweeping. We stopped for tea at road side shop near Sullurupeta around 4
A.M. We reached Venkatagiri at 4.30 A.M. and decided to stop by a paddy
field 7 Kms before the railway station. Also the car drivers can catch
up with their sleep and others can finish their jungle transition. We
decided to put the tarpaulin sheets on the small mud path on wayside of
main road piercing through the fields leading into a small village. All
were just lying down and when we felt that nearby grass was at higher
level above our heads. Ten of us were lying on the path. Suddenly a
villager coming with a motorcycle on the mud path appeared seemingly
heading towards the main road. Everyone except jaggu, who was sleeping
undisturbed was put to the corner and covered by lifted tarpaulin
sheets, giving way for the man. Sounds of distant rooster were calling
us to have a biriyani for the day.

Sunrise at Venkatagiri:

Soon dawn arrived. Around 6:00 A.M, Neem twigs were plucked for a
natural tooth cleanup operation. There were some guys who did not care
to do so, in a typical emperor style.  Canal carrying Krishna water
(Telugu Ganga) to Chennai was passing nearby, the through which fields
were getting their water. So we got refreshed, and started around 6:30
A.M towards Venkatagiri town.  Crossing the loop road around the railway
station, we reached the bus stand, where guys from Tirupati joined us.
Around 7. A.M., we had breakfast comprising small idlis and vadas.
Groups split into three and were taking in 3 shops separately. True to
the Emperor’s fame, we hopped on to taste the bondas and idlis to have
the taste of other shops. We proceeded towards North West direction from
the Venkatagiri town. After reaching the village near base hill, we had
to search for guide to show us the base camp trail from where trail for
the peak will start. Watching the rising sun with its different hues
was fun and soon Maqibul got his SLR out capturing the visuals.
Search for the base camp:

Almost 90 % of the men in the village were drunk, and instead of showing
the way to our target, he started showing the way to falls around the
northern side of the peak. Then we found some steadier guy,who was
willing to show the trail. In between the guys were searching for guide;
the common items were distributed like boli, energy bars,oranges and
electrolytes. The cars proceeded along the small jeep trail where
villagers were taking their cows for grazing the grass pastures and
empty fields.  Suddenly our cars were surrounded with around 100 cows;
we somehow managed to squeeze our way through them. Crossing them w
encountered the small drop in ground strata because of the dry stretch
of river bed. Some of the cars were struggling to get up from the pit.
We parked our vehicles in the place which looked like an older river bed
having rounded pebbles. After filing up our water cans, hike started.
We walked along with the cows until the small stream where village
herdsmen were having their breakfast. All thecivilization stopped there
and what continued was walk into the bushy,thorny dry forest. We had to
walk without leaving any gap in between as there were many deviant
paths, which might lead us into dense vegetation. Once we reached the
point which looked like base camp,instruction was given to maintain
steady pace, and decided who will lead and who will sweep all the people
at last. The weight of the backpack was also checked for lightness of
it.

Clockwise round:

Once the actual climb started, from the south east of the hill range, we
were making a clockwise rotation to move towards robber’s fortNorth
West portion from where we have to climb over the steep ascent to reach
the top of the peak. We got divided into 3 or 4 groups based on the
pace. Regular howls and sounds were made signaling the people to follow
the right path. We crossed many dry streams with no traces of water. We
were having enough rest under the shady places as sun was reaching the
peak during the climb. We put up at a flat place for having lunch and
some power nap from 12:00 to 2:00 P.M.

Sighting of the peak:

Almost everyone was tired to the last bone and had some deep sleep for
the day, with different postures, under the blazing sun, and also
strong breeze blowing around.  I remember masu recalling that Jagdish
just slept for more than hour just by sitting on the rock. We started
from there around 2:30 P.M; we reached the old robber’s fort below the
peak around 3:00 P.M. Since we are climbing from the western side of
the rock to the peak, sun will is directly beating on our heads. So we
had pit stop there and recollecting the fact that toughest part was
already over. At 3:30 P.M, the hike to the top started, climbing on the
footsteps made of boulders at almost 60 degree inclination. Maasi
gave all the instructions on what has to be done on immediately reaching
the peak, as it was only a one hour hike with no deviatory
paths. All brave hearts marched along with looking below and readily
clinching mind blowing views in their photographs as marquee picture,
telling the story about the steepness of trail. The peak was before our
eyes, just to be captured.

On a high with lot of thirst:
Reaching
the peak around 4:30 P.M, every one’s mind was searching
answer for only one question, will we get a drop of water here. The
sun drained water from our bottles. As per Masu’s instructions,somebody
waited on the lower rung of the peak. One group went with
masu in search of water point and filling up all the bottles. One group
left to the top of peak to locate place for the base camp and
pitching the tents. When we went to the top, we found the place was
thrown with plastic cups, oil and food packets and feathers of the
freshly cut chicken lying around. It must be the local villagers, we
thought, immediately people were in action to clean up the site
segregating the plastic wastes separately to the corner. We were spared
the work of collecting the dry woods for cooking as the left
out woods by the villagers were enough for the night.  Accessing the
water dripping rock was taken with caution as there is a free fall
just two feet nearby. Only ten of us were allowed near the point and
were collecting and filling the 30 odd bottles. These rocks were with
good void spaces, through which water was falling making it a reliable
source for all of us.
Delicious biriyani aka ghee rice- reward for the day’s work:

If sighting of water was some solace for the thirst hearts, the
emperor’s menu for dinner was making our mouths get watery. Soon all
the guys reached the top peak after filling up all the bottles. The fire
place was lit and corn soup was first in the lane. Hot soup was
served to the group, which aroused the hunger pangs for everyone.
Sankar’s cupped noodle was given to the cooks and helpers. Only the
last bit of liquid part was given back to him. Biriyani was punctuated
with ghee, ginger garlic paste, roasted green chilies, onions,
tomato,etc & completed by basmati rice and mixed to perfection.
Everyone was getting anxious and biriyani’s aroma reached all the
corners of the
campsite. This cooking process was going on one side and other side Uday
& co was pitching in the tents using Bamboo sticks tied with the
rope which was anchored to the stone boulders. Tarpaulin sheets were
stretched to the maximum limit and were oriented in the way that it 
drains away all the mist drops towards the lower end. The biriyani was
ready to be served by 8:00 P.M. The camp fire was put to the maximum
effect and lighting up the whole place brightly. Every one’s face was
suddenly bright with all the bowls lined up. Truly it was satiating
experience having biriyani a.k.a ghee rice after the day’s hard trek.

Biting cold, undelivered birthday bumps and popcorn scam:
On
a normal Saturday night, all the guys might have never gone to sleep
till late midnight. But this day, everyone rolled up their mats
and sleeping bags and was ready for sleep mode at 9.00 P.M. After half
an hour, I woke up to the wet bed spread and sat near the camp fire,
used the warm stones to dry up the bed spread.  I saw people with
sleeping bags peacefully taking their nap. It was too late for me to
have realized the importance of sleeping bag for trekkers. But
Icontinued to enjoy the colder night taking the warmth of the blazing
fire. Before sleeping Charan tej informed us about Yogesh’s birthday and
reminding to give birthday bumps at 12:00 P.M. At 12:00 clock,
alarm was ringing.  Everybody except the poor guy Charan wished the
birthday boy. Senthil was also joining me near fire, as he also was
not having any sleeping bag. At 12:15 A.M, I went in to the tent for
catching up some sleep. Around 2:30 A.M, not able to bear the cold and 
with wet blanket, I moved out near the fire. But there was only burnt
clinker and ashes which were remaining out near the fire. Masu,
Senthil was also awake by that time, strongly bitten and refreshed by
the cold. At one point, I was lying upside down like Eskimo’s igloo to
store the heat inside my body. At last unable to control shivering, some
brave six souls (masu, raja, Senthil, dinesh, malli, dhilip)
ventured out to collect dry woods for burning and recreating the fire,
only way to bear the cold. Mean while some strange sounds were
emanating from inside the tents. After collecting the woods, it was by
4:30 by then. So there was plan to prepare tea for the birthday boy 
Yogesh and popcorn was given to him. Soon the fire was lit and cold was
blown away. After these early morning treat, some of us went for
catching with sleep.

Glorious sunrise & yummy cornflakes:
Soon
around 6:00 A.M on Sunday morning, we found some people still sleeping.
Raja was suggesting that wake up alarm of a different kind

to be given. By removing one of the bamboo sticks supporting the the
tent, and making dew fall on the people which can be the effective
alarm to wake up everyone. But fortunately no such desperate measures
were taken and people automatically wound up when the aroma of the tea
powder was circulating in the camp site.  Sunrise at the height was
spectacularly beautiful and majestic display of nature’s awesome
beauty that, it can offer. Distant water bodies basking in the sun
light, valleys image reflected through sun’s rays, were elevating in
itself. After the tea was served, some guys left for catching up some
water for descent journey. Around 9:00 clock, we had some corn flakes
with mountain honey, which was typical of emperor’s style to promote
new, traditional food items in the trek. People were relaxing a bit,
and then while some small interaction between the groups was happening,
popcorn scam was found out.

Steep descent:
After
deciding to create a pose depicting CTC in a human chain, almost
everyone in the group unanimously jumped upon the opportunity to a

novel idea. We found some cannon balls which were used to grind masala
for the biriyani. The 10 cm diameter balls might have been used to
fire at enemy approaching the fort in those times. We found some
underground caves on the lower peak where we had a rocking group photo.
It was great team spirit that was in display in the noises made, people
pulling up everyone’s legs during the hike and made the descent look
easier than it was appearing to be for the fresher Cannot forget the way
ankit was instructing and motivating the kishorefrom front during the
steepest climb down. We made him use the feet to climb and balance
confidently on the pedaling down, without using the
body and hands to move down. Since we started around 11:00 A.M before
noon, sun was catching up with us. While descent was painful for nkles,
it was also causing muscle sprains on hamstrings. Pushing ahead of the
sun, we halted at some point for regrouping and having
some self introduction session with individual feed backs. It was good
to know that everyone was from different backgrounds like architects,
software guys, finance guys, mechanical engineers, media people,service
industry guys and also current students and some (always)
students. None were nervous first up on speaking and shared all their
views and pull others legs during their speech. Popcorn scam was talk
of the trek, with Maasi becoming target of all (taunts!). The first aid
kit was first time used in the trek and I was happy that we were
using it after a long time. Our accountant Charan tej reimbursed all the
money to the expenditures made by the people. We proceeded to the
car parking.

No more pushovers:

Feed
backs from everyone were lively and it happened as the best trek for
each one of the CTC member. All were pretty active personnel. Some
seniors like Inigo actually were pushing in front during the descent 
journey. And we should not forget our iron lady Aditi the only female
member in our trek and was pushing hard all the boys in the trek.Every
fresher was made fitter and proved that they are no more pushovers after
completing the trek. Thanks for Scorpio Shankar who accompanied us with
his Scorpio, who helped not only with his vehicle,
but also gave us more than 50 % of his cupped noodles. We had some
interesting moments in the lunch cum dinner at Dhaba in Venkatagiri.
All the people were non vegetarian in the group. Only couple in our
group (Aditi & Ankit) was celebrating their fourth anniversary
withCTC guys. They sponsored 50 % of the dinner cost at Dhaba. After
some hugs and byes, everyone parted with the hard heart and promises to
meet in the next trek and stay in touch through the virtual world.

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