Another Excellent Write up from Patrick:
Just wanting to test my boundaries and my endurance I registered for emperor express trek. The target seemed to be very attractive 45 Kms hiking within 18 hours. As I was put up in Bangalore I booked train tickets to Chennai before one month and waiting for this day. My pick up point is Koyambedu . This is my first visit to Chennai after 3 years so I was little worried about being there at correct pickup point. I reached the pickup point well before in time i.e. before 1 hour. The mindset of eating only bread and electrol throughout the trek made me to eat lot of biriyanis on the day before J.
So finally I saw two guys with trekking outfits rushing in .My guess was right they are our teammates Shyam and Nithin. So joined the team .Shyam was busy in calling every one. In the end we were falling short of one vehicle. Thanks to Akilan who brought his bike to our rescue. Me and Akilan got in to bike had lot of discussions about treks and everything. Had a nice bike ride and I was little panicked by Akilans words “I never drove this much speed in this road”. Meet Yuvraj, Vicky, Sollin in Thiruvallur.We filled petrol for our bikes and had a little tea and started our journey towards uttakotai. So entire teams along with our organizer Prem kumar meet up at uttakotai and cruised towards the base camp. Prem’s car which was in lead, and three bikes behind was like BLACK CATS escort for our organizer.
Prem,Sollin,Magesh,Nithin,Varaprasad,Algeshan,Aklilan,Manoj,Siva,Shyam,Senthil Vivky,Yuvraj,Ponnraj,Srinivasan and me are the express emperors. Hope I didn’t miss any one…
Team in Nagala Southern Peak
Final Team which climbed 3 peaks in single day (Shyam taking Photo)
Finally we reached the base camp about 10.30 pm. Every one took their oranges, banana, electrol Bread packets etc. Magesh started his nonstop jokes till we slept. Thank you Magesh we had much of laughter throughout the trek because of you. The wait for dinner is over. We all finished idlies and chapattis those were parceled and packed. We took a long nap without any disturbance. Getting up at early morning around 3 o’clock we started the Express. Guided by Prem and his GPS we reached the point where we have to start ascending. We started to ascend continuously towards the top. Then we relaxed for a little halt. Thanks to Srinivasan for blue berries .I was really very tasty. Again started to ascend and reached a point where we have to head to south peak. The same place is the origin of the stream of nagala. We got some purest water to drink. Then the Team started for south peak. Akilan and Senthil Ganesh rested while everyone went for south peak.
It was like trial running in mountains. Prem was doing sweeper job and checking who is lagging behind. Finally we reached the top of the south peak all the tiredness vanished after seeing the view from there. We took some photos and enjoyed the view points over there. So we started our way back. We noticed several fresh pits that were dug by wild boar.
After that Nithin and Vara prasad saw many snakes on the way. Finally we came down from the south peak .I got lot of scratches all over the body in attempt to climb faster. Finally half of the group exited in nagala 1st pool. So again express started at lightning speed after having little bath in the first pool. So now the team size is reduced to 9. Now the team members are Mahesh, Ponnu raj, Akilan,sollin, me, Nithin, Vara parasad, Shyam and Prem.
On the way we meet the people from the couples trek. Saying hi and bye to them we started to climb further. Crossed the 2nd pool where Nithin and Vara Prasad were enjoying a dip. Then crossed the third pool which is little dangerous for non swimmers to cross by. Then we headed straight towards the top of west. Suddenly after a good altitude I found myself with cramps in my calves and thighs. Not able to bend my legs. So I decided to jump out of express at that point.
Saying bye-bye to the team, I sat in deep forest alone for some 2 hours waiting for the cramps to get released. After few hours my legs started to move slowly and freely. So I was partially satisfied with completing about 27 Kms hiking in 6 hours. Then I started to climb down slowly. I enjoyed the walk with nature and snakes, for another 8 to 9kms alone.
Had a lot of thrill because I don’t know the exit route from pool and I was alone. One the way back I meet people from social trek organized by Gangathar .Thanks to him for making my way back to koyembedu. Then I called the team and came to know that they finished the trek in record breaking time (44 Kms in 14 hours). Congrats all. Thanks to Prem and CTC for express trekking experience….. Loved it totally…… Waiting for next Express with regular stretching every day.
Beautiful Write Up from Siva Subramanian:
I have been to Nagala only once so when I saw a trek invite with the plan of visiting all the three peaks within 24 hours, I signed up straight away. Only after I got shortlisted, I realized this is was an express trek. I made a call to the organizer and made sure I was not unfit..I have been training for a half marathon, so, I believed that it would take me to the peaks without many problems.
The day finally arrived and I made a quick dash to Koyambedu as soon as I returned from my college. To my surprise, the rest of the team was late so I just sat in the bus stop thinking about the next day. Finally, I met Nitin and soon Prem anna arrived. We stopped at a petrol bunk but got delayed there by at least twenty minutes as the pump was not working. Then after some periodic regroupings, we made it to the base of the hills. We had a quick and funny dinner and went to sleep. I still remember Shyam anna speaking nonstop in his mobile for a long time and how Magesh anna and Prem anna kept teasing him..At around 2: 30AM, I heard something like an emergency siren but soon realized that it was Prem anna’s alarm 😀
We all ate two bananas each and proceeded quickly along the trail. It was full of thorns and pretty steep so we were all breathing hard. I had the luxury of taking extra rests as I was pretty much near the lead so whenever we stopped to wait for the others, I took a quick break also. Soon, we made it to a flat ground like structure where Prem anna decided to stop for some time. Nitin, Vara, Magesh anna and I were along with him and we lay there for some time seeing the crystals clear skies. Soon, the rest of the team except Shyam anna arrived and we came to know that Shyam anna had forgotten something so he had gone to take it. A lot of jokes followed and we all laughed like hell. The trek resumed and I somehow managed to keep it at the front. We then reached a small water point which I later learnt was the origin of a stream in Nagala where we asked the slow comers to wait and made the final assault on the peak. We ran most of the time and then reached a peak.
Magesh anna screamed, “Machi!!! Peak vandhirchu!!”. Prem anna gave a bulb to our joy by saying “Machi, peak innum 5 mile ponum da”. So, we kept trekking (aka running) and soon reached the peak ridge. The peak too was reached very soon and we took a brief rest till the rest of the team arrived. As soon as they came, we took some photographs and left the peak. Again, running followed and we reached the water point and had our breakfast. Prem anna asked two of the slow trekkers to dropout and told them not to feel bad as they had already completed a 2 day difficult trek in around three and a half hours. Now, we resumed the trek towards the first pool in the western trail and here too we kept running. The descent was pretty steep in places and it tested all of us. The first pool arrived and everyone took a small dip in it. I took a few snaps of them and chose to sit there silently instead. The trek resumed and somewhere close to the second pool, both Magesh anna and I were experiencing cramps.
We stopped and had some electrol and soon resumed our trek. We crossed the second pool and then somewhere near the third pool, I had another cramp. I stopped for some time and waited for Prem anna to arrive. I went to him and said, “Anna, I think I have to dropout….my cramps are getting more severe….I may slow you guys if I proceed with the team…”. Prem anna was highly encouraging and said something like, “Adhellam onnum avadhu thambi, just have some oranges and electrol and proceed”. So, I decided to proceed. It all seemed ok when all of a sudden, I had another very severe cramp. I knew that that was it. I was now behind Prem anna so I called him and he was like “ennachu da?” I said him that I had another cramp and I had to quit …I told him that I had an orange, bread packet and tang in my bag to which Prem anna replied “Neeye vachiru da…just proceed along the trail to the parking lot and meet other CTCians”. So, there I was, still energetic but having given up because of those cramps. After a rest of some 5 minutes, I proceeded back to the second pool enroute which I met Nitin and Vara..I asked them the way to go out and they too asked me to proceed along the stream and that it would take me to a dam. I reached the second pool where I had some electrol and had a rest for some forty five minutes. I thought that I had done a blunder by dropping out but somehow managed to cheer me up as it was the only thing I could do at that point of time. I had been walking in the front with the lead trekkers since early morning and I myself felt pretty bad when I had to stop and walk with Prem anna who was sweeping when I dropped out.
You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain-I said to myself. I then thought…maybe had I proceeded with Nitin and Vara anna after sometime I could have still made it to the other two peaks..But then again I thought, what if I had another round of cramps? What if I slowed down the entire team just for the sake of me being a part of the record making team..Wouldn’t I be painted as a selfish guy who put the entire team at stake just for the sake of creating records? Being a regular trekker(I do a lot of treks outside CTC) I knew that trekking was a team game and going against the team was the least characteristic of a good trekker.I then remembered a quote by Ed Viesturs, a living legend..”Summiting is optional, returning home is mandatory”…I didn’t even know whether this was applicable to my situation. Not wanting to think more than this, I took a quick nap. Then, I proceeded along the trail and just after the first pool, I saw six drop outs coming. I realized that they were tired so we proceeded again to the second pool where I gave them the Tang which I had in my bag. We stayed there for another 30 minutes and finally they decided to get in the pool. I stayed outside the water taking photographs of them. After sometime, I too felt the desire to get in so I jumped in the water and gave a few poses and got out within two minutes. We made a lot of phone calls and then sent a message to Arun Prabahar anna(Prem anna had told me that Arun anna was coming to Nagala west that day) but there was no reply. So, we decided to proceed on our own. We made it out of the forest and then had some food from a team of social trekkers (if you are reading this, THANKS A LOT GUYS J ).
We then walked to the main road and caught a bus to Uthukottai. From there we took another bus and after some funny explanations to the bus conductor as to where we were headed and after the help of an old man who was really friendly, we made it safely to the parking lot.(strangely, only I knew the name of the village where the car was parked in the entire group of drop outs). We waited and waited and finally a bus arrived. Again, some funny explanations followed and here too a man helped us to find the correct place. We made a long walk and made it to the cars. We were now heading towards home….That night, when I was lying in my bed, I had all those thoughts again..Had I done a mistake by dropping out? My mind had only one answer-THE MOUNTAINS ARE ALWAYS GOING TO BE THERE READY TO BE CLIMBED…AND I WILL DEFINITELY BE BACK!
And congrats to the five rock solid trekkers who made it till the end….KUDOS!