[written by Dinesh]
I am sure you would have heard of day dreaming, the surprising thing here is I was night dreaming in morning at 3 AM. By the time I had finished my project work it was 2:30, then I looked into the preparatory mail and started packing the essentials and finished by 3AM. Fearing that I would not able to wake up again, I decided to stay awake for the next 2 hours. It was in this time span I was day dreaming. It was my first trek with CTC, and most importantly PETER VAN GEIT was the organizer. I had seen him once before, but I was still thinking whether the stuff people spoke about him were really true?? The idea of flying white colored gorilla kept came back whenever I thought of him. I could not stop my mind; it was jumping from the streams to camp fire and many more stuff, which I shall explain through this article.
I reached Tidel park bus stand by 4:40 because the person in charge of assembling (“Vikram”) asked me to be 15mins early, however the first car arrived 15mins late, and other cars followed. We started the assembling and introduction journey till Koyembedu. It was to my surprise that, all the T- shops were filled with CTCians. Firstly because no one can separate us from food and secondly because we belong to a big family heading to different areas spread across Chennai. We got into our cars and left for Nagalapuram at Andhra Pradesh , all of us believed that there would be breakfast waiting for us at Utthukotai, but later people with earlier trekking experience with peter said “ expect the unexpected…” However some uppniavan (“nice bugger”) had brought polis, we had them and packed food for lunch, dinner and next day’s food.
We started the trek by 9AM; it was brisk 10mins walk to the foothills of Nagala (West east). Suddenly the group halted. Wondering why? Because Peter was missing!!! We found him after 5 minutes on top of a hillock shouting to us the path to his current location. Avinash, Sanjeev, Mr. Greens and I started walking fast to the hillock. I was tired when we reached the top and was huffing and puffing, and immediately Sanjeev says “uhhm warm up ayachu, now we can start walking fast”!! Now since someone has said so, I tried regaining some energy and also said “yeah yeah lets walk now”. However all of us regrouped at a habitat of locals and then moved forward to a stream. As we walked forward we were getting into the deep jungles, after a 1 hour walk we found a stream it was big, big enough that 2 men could completely immerse themselves inside. We had our base camp here, reasons do so are firstly there was enough place for all of us to sleep secondly the water was really tasty to drink. After a brief two minutes chat some decided to stay back at base camp, and thus rest of us dispatched our luggage and walked only with water bottles for the first trek.
What we did during the next two hours was unbelievable. Here Peter made a plan, he was carrying an orange. The reason was he was not sure of fitness levels of freshers like myself and others, and this was going to be a tough trek along the dried up stream with only boulders. So he would start scaling the mountain and in mid way he would place the orange and wait for considerable amount of time and then scale the rest of the peak, so if we found an orange at any location and members were absent we had to walk back along the same path to base camp. However all of us made it on time to the orange location and thus we did not have to leave the orange behind but enjoy it.
We again started walking to the mountain top, there were three locations where we had beautiful views of the mountain range and also got to see the location of the base camp from the top of the peak. That day we were at 540m above the ground level of Nagala foothills. At the peak we had Peter explain the terrain and geography of the mountains. At present I lack words to explain the feeling of accomplishment that we felt when we were at the peak. We walked down an easy terrain back to the base camp, the trek that started at 10AM ended by 2PM. It was lunch time and we had Puliodharai (Tamarind rice) with chips. Peter allowed all of us to have a power nap for next two hours, and by 4:30 we were up for the next trek. Peter said “It would be a short trek along an easy trail and we would be back in an hour”. 14 of 33 people moved up for the trek. We climbed to a 340 meter peak along a semi difficult trail and reached amla paradise. The amlas’ were so juicy and tasty. We then moved to another location where we could see the Tirupathi (Hills were lord Balaji resides in Andhra), it was a beautiful view. Slowly the sunlight disappeared and we were star gazing and enjoying the pleasant breeze.
By 8:30 PM we decided to leave the luxurious area and move back to the base camp. The return journey was an unbelievably difficult night trek, it was a challenging walking, I cannot call it walking, we did all kinds of motion a human can do to cross the jungle in the night and reached base camp by 11PM. There are three things that I would like to highlight about this night trek and Peter; firstly it was to be a one hour trek, actually working out to be a brilliant 5 hours night trek. Secondly you would see peter motivating you by saying “its 9PM now and we will reach the base camp by 9:10pm and start having our dinner”, in reality we reached base camp at11PM (Such monologues were very common during the trek); thirdly the pleasure of eating amla, star gazing at a mountain peak is un-comparable fun. Mr.Greens had set up the camp fire for us, and Vikram and Rady took good care of us still we ate our food and found our places to sleep.
Woke up in the morning and very silently most of us replied back to the nature calls. The Green team of CTC had prepared a healthy breakfast that would fill our stomach till the evening. Most of us left for the three level trek with Peter, the final aim was to reach a peak that could be seen only you turned your head up by 90 degrees. In 30 minutes or all of us reached level 0, some of our dear ones including Sheenu went back to base from level 0. The remaining determined souls proceeded to level 1. The level 0 to level 1 trek was the most difficult part of the trek as we were climbing mountains that were almost vertical and finally level 1 was completed after we climbed a vertical mountain. The view of the valley from this point was soothing; this could possibly be one of the best places to use your wing suits.
All of us proceeded to level 2, a mountain peak that was 760 meters above the ground level. The third portion of the trek was mentally challenging, and once we reached the peak the mind completely relaxed. We saw the central, western peaks of Nagala and also the mountains that we scaled the earlier day form this peak. It took us about 15 minutes to come back to our senses, and then we relaxed for another 5 minutes and started the return journey. There was unfortunate incident at this point; one of our team members (Dhanashekar) had got injured. This strong guy collected all this strength and with help of Brajesh and started the return journey along with us. We reached the base camp by 4 and then had lunch,that was prepared by Ganesh, Sanjeev, and Greens.
By 5PM we started the return journey to foothills, and reached back in 2 hours’ time. The interesting part was how our trek ended, we jumped into water that was 2O feet below us and then swam ashore. Later got the cars from the foothills, and moved to the food joint. Again we filled the complete restaurant; it was fun eating time again. We finished all the chicken and mutton biryani, parotas, kotthu parotas, dosas and the tandoori chicken. We left the restaurant with filled stomachs and hearts back to our respective places.