“NAGALAPURAM TREK-um வச்சு செஞ்ச PETER-um”..
by Vignesh Kumar
Trekking had always been a passion for me. During my NCC days in college, we used to trek to Kodai once every year and to nearby hills every three months. I always enjoyed those moments especially the Kodai trek where we can see breathtaking views of nature earth. But after college never had idea to trek again until I came across CTC. My new job might take me out of Chennai anytime soon and I was desperate to attend one trek before I leave Chennai and I registered for the Cleanup trek by Peter and Kote. I heard from many that Peter trek will be little hard. But since it was mentioned as a cleanup trek, I didn’t worry much and was ready. I finished my mandatory fitness test and is absolutely ready to start my trek again after many years.
The Journey to Nagala:
We assembled in Koyambedu at 4:40am sharp and we had tea and started our Journey. I know Surendra, who came for the fitness test along with me, and we both started to talk and it is a first with CTC for both of us. Sangavi is another person whom I knew already as she was part of another camp which I went with CTC. Apart from them, others are completely unknown to me. In fact I was seeing many faces that I noticed in mails and photos in CTC group. Some are ultra runner, marathon runners and trialathon finishers. We stopped at Uthukottai for breakfast. Since CTC boot camp final step was also planned on the same day, 27 other teams along with 20 members for cleanup trek were eating side by side. After going through some beautiful scenery, we reached our destination.
I saw Peter, Kote and Varatha anna assigning tasks to boot camp teams. Peter came to us and told us strictly that he is not going to allow anyone who carry a bag heavier than his bag. When we check his bag and felt, there is absolutely nothing. I’m sure he had only one think blanker and a couple of bun. But we all packed ourselves with food for two days, water bottles and dress pairs. But Peter said he is not going to allow heavy weight. So many of us had to drop most of the stuffs we carried and we are now asked to proceed further to base camp (where the boot camp and trek team will cook and sleep at night). We carried common vessels and tarpaulins and started walking. We went through a dam and then to some boulders and then along the stream and climbing some heights. I was thinking, base camp would be at the base of mountain and we walked for minimum one hour to reach base camp itself.
Trekking on first day:
When I was of the thought that it will be cleaning up mostly, Peter asked the trek to get ready leaving behind garbage bags and said cleaning will be tomorrow and today we will trek. The absolute beauty to trek with Peter is, we would have no idea where he is gonna take us to. Not even to fellow coordinators at time. He simply asked us to follow. We walked along the stream for 30 minutes and at a water point Peter claimed this is the last water point and there will be absolutely no water for another 5-6 hours. He ordered us to drink one litre of water and carry one litre for ourselves. There could be no one to match the sarcasm and funny comments which Peter give us. He said “You will be screaming for your mommy for water. But you won’t get anything. Have one litre of water in body and one litre in Bottle”. I was like, wow this is gonna be fun. Just immediately that we climbed a little steep mountain which has a trail and Peter wanted to sent back those who are dragging and those who shall not make it. He saw every individual faces and sent back 3 to the base camp and ask them to rest for the day because it is going to be a tough path and there is no way back now. If we start now, we must have to proceed forward only. After that another comment came from Peter “Come on guys. Let me show your grand mommy and grand poppy today”.
I absolutely enjoyed when he told that and told myself that this is great and we will enjoy the trip. Walking under the sun and we were climbing some steep paths. Sometimes through trail, sometimes through boulders and sometimes through bushes where there is no path. It was getting tougher and tougher and I enjoyed thoroughly. Though this is more than my personal limit, it is manageable for me. After all only when we go with the best man like Peter, we can check our own ability. He gave us some relax time and when he was so strict, Mother Nature showed us some mercy by tree covers like that. Everyone wants to have a power nap as soon possible as we were dehydrated and tired of the tough terrains. At a particular point, we need to climb down. Till this point I was going in the front. Sometimes just behind Peter but mostly in the front 10. In fact, when Peter asked us to climb down a particular path, I was the one who was standing close to him and so I started first. When I saw for a path to climb down, there is absolutely nothing. No trail, no stones, no tree roots and nothing for us to hold on to. But we can’t even think much as the Boss is looking from behind. I did my absolute best to go down and to my bad luck I slipped three times in this particular down trail and the worst is about to start for me. When we reached down, everyone was very happy to see the water stream and without a second everyone jumped in and relaxed. While my face turned to horror as I saw my show sole got tore out. When I asked Bhakya what to do, he told me to cover it with a plastic and tie it soon as Peter may shout and may not be happy if someone lag behind.
A bad phase for me:
But after I covered it with a Plastic cover and started our walk though boulders, everyone asked me to cautious as the plastic may slip. Kote was not really pleased with me slowing down suddenly and he shouted me to change to Slippers if I had any. Already one person show sole was completely tore off and he was lagging much behind. I didn’t want to drag the team and don’t want them to get slow because of me. But my worst fear came true now. Mentally I couldn’t walk through these boulders with slippers because my rubber slipper will pass the hardness of the rock to my foot easily as it is thin. Now I am really lagging as I couldn’t see anyone in the front. Bhagya played the Sweeper role and he pushed me to come fast. When we reached a particular point, we were delighted to see everyone power napping after having their lunch. I had some food, drank plenty of water and took some dip in the water and started to sleep. When I was about to sleep, Peter got up and he asked us to ready to climb again. My mind voice was like, I am dead today. It is a 750m height which we need to climb and it is full of rocks. At places the height of the rocks are more than my height and I climbed them with so much struggle. Obviously I am still the last second, and Kote is doing his everything to make me go fast. After so much struggle, the climb is done and now it’s is a trail path and I can easily do this path since trails don’t hurt my foot like boulders. We reached a stunning view near to the center peak and had group pics. Now we need to climb down completely though rock terrains. While I have to step every step on rocks, it was hurting my foot badly but still I pushed myself and reached down. We are now one hour away from the base camp. While the guy who was lagging and struggled was asked to go back to Van and return home, Kote asked me whether I am ready to continue further inside base camp or to go out. I didn’t wanna quit. After all, I struggled only after I changed to slipper and I was absolutely fine in the frst half. In fact I was in front during the first half. I asked Kote to arrange one shoe alone for me as I have stamina and energy to walk and climb again but struggling only because of slipper. He asked to come to base camp and said he will arrange from boot camp teams. While everyone reached the base camp, I couldn’t walk any further even I am only 300m from the camp site. I slept on a rock along with Ram anna, who was coming in last to sweep me. We fall asleep and slept for one hour in complete darkness and then reached base camp, had food and decided to sleep. Sangavi was in full energy as she was exploring nearby places only for the whole day and she was helping almost everyone with lemon water, food, electrol and all other stuffs.
Fun filled second day:
When I woke up at around 6, I went to Kote and asked what can I do for the day as he couldn’t arrange show. Few of our team were leaving back to Chennai as it may get late to reach Chennai and since they had commitments, they quit and went. Kote asked me to go back. When I asked Peter, he asked me to stay and go out with Varatha anna. Varatha anna came with boot camp and I heard a lot and lot about him and read so many mails and posts regarding him. He is one of the best in CTC team with so much energy and he readily gets along. He went to have some dip in dead end pool and I was staying back and relaxing myself in base camp. My trek team went ahead with cleanup activity. I thought that Peter might have a tough plan for them again today. While Varatha anna returned, we had so much of food and decided to go to First pool and wait there till evening. Any boot camp team who has to go out has to cross the first pool and so that Varatha anna can take head count too. We reached the first pool by 11:30. We entered the water and came out at 4:30. 5 hours in the water and relaxing and sharing their knowledge. Varatha anna was telling so many stories about his experiences and about other CTC activities. He explained how it will be like to go with Peter for any treks, running, cycling and all. THE GREATEST ADVANTAGE AND ASTOUNDING THING WITH CTC IS THAT, YOU MEET PEOPLE OF DFFERENT KINDS. While in office, we may be with only people of same mindset and age group and talents, in CTC we meet people from different profession, hobbies, talents and much more. Finally we returned to the starting point, and when the trek team too returned with garbage, we started to Chennai. I asked someone whether Peter chose any tough path today for the trek team, they said, “Peter was in good mood and so we had a good time in cleaning and relaxing in picnic pool”.
Now I do not know whether I would get another chance to trek with CTC since I might leave Chennai soon. But definitely I would do my best to find some time and join a trek with proper TREKKING SHOES. I would like to go again with Peter only again as only he can push us more than our limits and set a benchmark. With so much memory, bruises and pains in leg, I returned to normal Chennai routine life.
TITS BITS FROM THE TREK:
Varatha Anna: Though he came for boot camp, I am absolutely happy to know him and interacting with him for one full day. He is an awesome and great person. A good human being and an inspirational person in CTC.
Bhagya: Impossibly polite man. He was extremely polite even when I was lagging in the last and pushed me further to join the team.
Kote- He is a front runner. While I was struggling to walk through the boulders with slipper, he was running on them with slipper. He don’t wear any shoes and go with normal slippers.
Sangavi- I knew her from previous night camp itself that she is active and help everyone around. Since she couldn’t join us on the first day trek, she really took care of all the tired people when we returned to base camp.
Last but never the least, our boss, PETER- Impossible DEMI GOD of fitness. This man s freaking awesome. He set high standards and push everyone beyond their self limit. He is motivating and its absolute fun to go around with him.
And finally, I was thinking of an apt heading for the write-up. I hope many will agree that this is little hard trek and so this heading will suit.
“NAGALAPURAM TREK-um வச்சு செஞ்ச PETER-um”..