Last month I had my first trek with Peter and shared a write-up “NAGALAPURAM TREK-um வச்சு செஞ்ச PETER-um” (http://www.chennaitrekkers.org/2017/05/nagalapuram-trek-um-peter-um.html?spref=fb). I had a difficult time during that trek because of my Shoe and I was little embarrassed and felt bad for not finishing the trek with a happy note. I was determined to go for another trek and finish it completely without any hiccups. I do not want to quit trekking because of one bad experience. But this time I was little cautious too and decided to go for Sankar trek selectively. Because most of the CTC members would have heard that Sankar trek will be comparatively easy and he take everyone along in a trail which will be comfortable. Hence as soon as I saw his mail, I registered for the trek. I got selected and the preparatory mail said that it will be a difficult trek and the plan was to cover 40+kms and climb 2 tallest mountains. Though I had my initial reservations, I decided to confirm myself and I was all set to go for the trek. It was a heavy down pour in Chennai on Friday and I saw in weather report that it rained in Nagalapuram too. Now I can be sure that the sun will not drain our energy (though I didn’t even think what would happen if it rains).
The Journey Starts
Saturday morning I reached my pickup point Koyambedu and introduced myself to others in the place. In all my previous events with CTC, I used to be a silent guy and will observe and a stranger to most of the group. But I already knew 3 people who are coming to this trek from my previous events. I had a short talk with Vivek na (knew from Peter trek) and Loka Karthika and Ravi (knew from TS cleanup). We were all set for the journey to start and after a delay in our breakfast in Uthukottai, we reached Nagala only by 9-9:30 around. While coming in the Van itself, Sankar changed his mind from the original plan he had for us since it would rain in Nagala and covering 40+kms might not be a good option. Once we reached Nagala, he briefed us about the new plan. We started walking inside the dam and after reaching the first water point, Sankar informed us to fill our water bottles as there won’t be any water for next 3-4 hours.
Climbing towards central peak
We planned to climb though the left from the first point and reach near central peak view point. I knew this trail as we climbed down this path in my previous trek. The first 45 minutes was little tough but I knew that the body was just warming up and I can accustom easily in sometime. But then, 3 people already decided to quit as they couldn’t climb this elevation. Usually Sankar never allow anyone to quit and he takes them along. But this time Sankar wants to try some new paths and since Brijesh was there, Brijesh allowed them to go back and stay in temple as the path may go tough. I was in the front just behind Sankar and I was consistently in the front 5. I don’t wanna come as last like my previous trek and I was even running at certain trails without much difficulty. We reached a point and turning right would lead us to Central peak. But Sankar wanna climb the West Peak point, for which we have to turn left. A man who organized more than 150+ treks with CTC and he never went to West Peak yet. So, all of us were ready for a wonderful unexplored trail. We had a short climb and then we have to go climb down completely to get some water. But till now water wasn’t a problem for anyone since it wasn’t too much hot and only the first 45 min climb was hard. Further the speed wasn’t too fast too for anyone to get tired. We reached a point to climb down and abruptly the trail ends there. So far there was proper trail throughout and even when there is no trail, it was only flat surfaces. I was just behind Sankar and the trail ends and Sankar just looked down and checked his GPS and asked us to climb down somehow. This is almost 80 degree steep down and the path is little wet because of the previous day rain. And already local people whom we met in the path told it was raining hardly last night and can expect rain today too. We were climbing down one by one and I got slow now. This was the place where I met anbu, who is our sweeper for the trek. Till now I was in the first 5 and suddenly I was close to the sweeper. Anbu encouraged me that so far I had done well and pushed me to go fast. We climbed down and had a small walk to find a small stream of water. This would be enough for us to finish our lunch. Sankar told we will have a 30 min lunch break and start climbing the west peak. We sat, had our lunch and I was relaxing myself and was analyzing what happened so far. The reason why everyone felt Sankar trek will be easy was, he takes everyone along and he gave breaks consistently. He walks for 30-45 min and will stop for the entire team to join and then start again. It is not like once the last man joins the team, he will start immediately. He allowed us to have snacks break, have water and rest too at right time. Now we all are sitting and eating and talking with each other and getting familiarized. So far it wasn’t hard except for the last 30 min steep climb down. Now Sankar said we need to climb up a similar steep like how we did climbed down. I was like WHAT???
BEGINNING OF A NEW SANKAR VERSION
Climbing down a steep point could be ok because we can hold to the trees and worst case even if we slip, we will just go down the path, which would be our destination. But climbing up such a steep path and where there was no trail and the path was already wet from rain could be hard. It was harder than what I expected when he said to climb up and now most of us were climbing with 2 legs and 2 hands (It’s a monkey climb 😀 ). Even after climbing like a monkey for 30 min, we couldn’t see the flat surface showing up anywhere nearby. While climbing, I remembered Peter words from my previous trek “come on guys, lemme show ur grand mommy and grand poppy today”.. While Peter just said that, Sankar was really showing us the path to Heaven directly. When Sankar, Anbu and all others were encouraging each other to climb up, they kept saying “innum konjam thoram than. Mela poidalam” and I replied them ”aama aama.. inum konjam nerathula naan melaye poiduven.. just climb soon guys.. v dono the peak is coming nearby or not but surely heaven will come before that 😀 :D”.. It was such a huge steep.. Since we had a good chat during lunch, few others started to pour suggestions for my write-up with fun comments. We were talking and laughing hardly at the way we are climbing the wet steep path and after what felt like an hour, we reached the flat surface. We rested for a while, and we decided to name my write-up. Suggestions like, “Peter vachu seiyala pa.. Sankar than pa Senjutaru”.. “Sangoothiya Sankar” and much more funny comments were kept coming to me. Sankar himself was nearby and was enjoying our comments too. We walked along the flat trail for a while and Sankar showed us the West Peak and the path we need to climb to go there. It was not a wet trail but it was still a steep climb with rocks everywhere. We left our bag down itself since we will go back though the same path. Since we need to climb without bag, everyone was fine and decided to go on. The only difficulty was, the rocks are loose rocks. We weren’t sure which rock to step on to and which one to hold for. And the front goers were stepping on some loose rocks and that was passing through us at times. We climbed and there was the West peak view point. We had a small photo session and few of us decided to halt here while the rest of the team went further to reach the top point. Though the top point is barely 500m away, 4 of us stayed back and relaxing at the view point itself. The top point of West Peak is 820m high. I patted myself saying not bad buddy, good work done today. Myself, Mahi (our photographer guy for the trek), Suganya (Selfie specialist of our trek- From now on Mrs. Selfie Suganya endru andobu alaikapaduvaai :D), Aravindh (Hill cyclist and hill runner too), were the 4 enjoying the view point and had our chats and pic session for a good DP. Within 30 min others were back and we were in a hurry to climb down as we predicted a rain anytime soon.
Rain joins the party
Once we reached the place where we kept our bags, the rains started heavily. Luckily since we already opened a tarpaulin and covered the bags for safety before we climb, all of us got inside the tarpaulin and avoided the rain, except for the sweeper and last 2 (Karthik, Tamanna range ku mazhai la aatam poduranga) . Once rain was over, we decided to go down again and find a stream so that we can put our campsite and start cooking. Sankar showed some mercy and took us through a different path where we need to go down through the boulders only along a dry stream. In 30 minutes we found a water stream and though it was not like any water pool, we decided to halt there. We expected a heavy rainfall and so we started making tents to sleep and also to cook. Everyone volunteered to help and it was going to be upma for dinner. Hardly anyone will eat upma in our home. But Sankar cooked Upma using ghee and trust me people, it was super awesome. We sat inside the tent, eating, teasing everyone around and hearing so many stories. Since my previous write-up heading was little fancy, most others were suggesting points and heading for me all along. During our dinner time too, headings like “Nei Upma specialist Sankar”.. “Upma potta deivame”.. and few others were coming along. I myself suggested “Sankar: Peter version 2.0”. This trek was certainly not what people would have expected from a Sankar trek. After dinner, we had intro session and everyone was saying the same thing that we heard Sankar trek would be easy and only registered and Sankar vachu senjutaaru :D. There were 2 aravinth (one hill runner and another hill cyclist), 2 Vignesh (myself and another Hill runner), and most others had trek experience with Sankar himself and everyone felt this trek is little harder than usual Sankar style. While it was Sankar turn to introduce himself, he said he organized 150+ treks in last 6 years and explained how he used to pick paths and why everyone always feels his trek as easy. Like said before, Sankar never leaves anyone behind and he takes everyone along. He gave regular breaks and took them along. Even in our climb for the day, he gave snacks breaks regularly (sapadu potu theliya vachu, apram senjutaru 😀 😀 ). Sankar said that if anyone felt sick, he will change from his Original plan and will take though an easy path. But he wanted to change this “Sankar trek will be easy” tag surely and he said, only this trek and previous trek was as per his original plan. He even cheered us saying that the team had really done well. Because this West peak was first time even for him, which means he would try random paths and unexplored paths. It suddenly started to rain heavily and everyone went inside tents and was barely able to only sit. Most of the space was occupied with bags and since it was raining heavily we couldn’t able to move around to take individual bags and settle somewhere. We decided to use whatever bags were nearby as pillows and sleep. But without bed sheet and in the rain, it was damn cold. We couldn’t stretch our legs as it was raining outside and legs get wet in that. We all thought that no one can sleep even for 2 hours in this and with what Sankar had in mind for next day, nalaiku namaku periya aapu irukum nu.
Journey to Central Peak
We woke up around 7 and finished our early morning duties. We had our breakfast and using milk powders, had milk, tea, corn flakes, chocos and the left over Ghee Upma from previous night. From yesterday downpour the stream had good amount of water and I had a small dip to refresh myself for the day. The leg is not much paining and I can manage for the day. But now the shoes and socks are completely wet, I decided to not wear the socks and wore the shoe alone (try to take 2 pairs of socks for the next few months). We started our day to climb at 9 only. Sankar warned us that there may not be water after this camp site and fill enough water in tummy and in bottles. We need to climb again (marupadiyum climb ah.. ena usuroda kondu poi sethurunga yarachum 😀 ). Only the first 100+m was monkey climb and after that the climb was easy and since am refreshed, I was even running at certain climbs, not to prove anything to anyone else but to tell myself that I am fit and to gain self confidence. We kept walking and we need to go around a mountain to reach the central peak. In less than 2 hours we reached the Central peak and the view point of Central peak was magical. I felt this was one of the best views I had in my life. We had a short break for photo sessions and Sankar anna showed us the hill top. I wanna reach the top point too as am having my full energy to climb more. The top point of Central peak is 830m high. Most of the CTC trekkers would have felt this blissful feel of viewing the entire stretch of mountains from a hill top. It was magical. We had a brief rest here and had photos sessions and GIFs sessions too. In fact our Photographer, Mahi was trying to capture one jumping pose with few of us jumping and the valley in the background. Words can’t explain the Fun we had here. By now, our friend Loka Karthika has become the famous person in the group. When Ravi called her Loka, someone heard it as Mokka and we were like, yaruda antha mokka.. and another time I heard Loka like Mauka.. From then on, I started calling her as Mauka Mauka (India Pakistan AD during world cup) and soon enough everyone started calling her as Mauka Mauka. Mauka, Ravi, Myself, Selfie suganya, Hill cyclist Aravinth, Anbu were the one jumping for the pose. The GIFs captured were funny and I dono the cameraman got the best shot (only will get to know once he shared), but we had lots of fun. At one point, since the timing was not matching for all of us, Mahi asked us to keep jumping as he was capturing in Burst mode with multiple shots. The camera was kept clicking and we all were jumping at the top of 830m high Central peak. But Sankar captured one perfect shot of this from behind he said. We are aware that the water was getting over for most of us and we are cautiously using the water. The plan was to reach Picnic pool (finally at least one pool in the trip) and then to go out through first pool. We were climbing down and now and then there were some tough terrains but overall the path wasn’t much hard. Only difficulty everyone now facing was water. All of us were almost drained out of energy and we need some amount of water. Sankar showed us a mountain and said that the picnic pool was at the down of that hill. There was a steep down trail again and Sankar asked us to wait to go and check whether it would be ok to climb down. He felt that path was too difficult and so decided to climb the nearby mountain a little and walk across that hill to reach the water point. In all these difficulties, Selfie suganya and Mauka were taking lots of photos. In fact they took more photos than the entire group combined 😀 😀 (Varalaru migavum mukkiyam amaichare. So taking pics and saving as memories :D). Apart from these 2 gals, I know Vivek na would have captured the entire Journey. Even in my previous trek, though most of us didn’t had energy to click photos while going with Peter, Vivek na captured the entire journey and shared with us.
We climbed down a small section and we could hear the stream sound. Keeping only the water in mind, we ran for the water and finally had water and refreshed ourselves. We started our day at around 9 and then now only we are getting water after that. It was 3pm when we reached the water point which means we really had a tough day without water. Sankar anna said we will walk along the stream for some time and will have lunch at picnic pool. Since we all had water and refreshed, we were running for the pool. As soon as we reached the Picnic pool, it also started raining. We prepared Aval as lunch. Sankar mixed aval with various mixes (Vatha kolmabu mix first, then Vengaya kolambu mix and finally tomato mix) and was giving a hand of aval to one by one (like Nila soru urunda). In the rain, eating and enjoying in pool and it was really amazing. Sankar indeed is a great personality to take everyone along like this through such a tough path. We all knew this was tough but no one felt like impossible. Even when we climbed up and down like monkeys in tough trails (in fact where there were no trails too), we were having lots of fun only. And the credit goes to Sankar and Anbu, our sweeper. Anbu was co-organizing with Sankar for the first time and he surely will turn out as a best person to trek with in Future as the lead. While there was only 1 person who was lagging, all that anbu done was, shout their name and the person will reply “Varen da” and he will reply “va va”. He never showed angry or frustration or any sort of negative mood. Such a cool attitude guy, Anbu is.
One last Climb
While Sankar originally planned to go along the stream to first pool point and then exit, he changed the plan as it was already late. We started from Picnic pool only when it was around 5. He said we will climb the mountain and can reach the path through which we started first and can exit though first point. And of course there won’t be any water point after this as we are climbing up again. I was interacting with Sankar during the climb just to get few points for the write-up. He accepted that he never took any team to 2 peaks so far and this was the first time. I was really glad to know that as I am one among who finished this 2 tallest peak climbs. He further said that only this trek and last trek “vachu senjuruken”. We kept climbing and then it was only a flat trail for a while. And now since Sankar vachu senjing was about to end, it’s the turn of Varna bagavan to vachu senjing. It started to rain again and no one was in any mood to stop for the rain. We need to reach down before dark, if not it will become really hard. Rain started to pour down heavily when we started to climb down the last stretch of 500+ metres. Mauka, Selfie suganya, anbu, myself were talking about random talks and excited to reach down. When we did finally reached down and saw the first point, every one of us shouted like anything with so much joy and happiness. We soon walked the easy path to the dam and thus a wonderful journey came to an end. This trek will go down as one of the best moments of all the 15 members who finished the trek. Kudos to Sankar anna and Anbu for their wonderful attitude and behavior. Though the entire 2 day trek covered only 24.6 kms, it was hard with regards to the altitude we covered. We climbed up and down and up and down regularly. The number of mountains we crossed were also many. But a great feel of satisfaction and happiness prevail in all of us.
Some take away and tit bits from the trek
While Sankar trek can no longer be claimed as easy trek after reading this write-up, because even he would like to change that tag. Not because he doesn’t want to take to easy path but he would like to show us our potential and push us all beyond our personal limits. After all, if anyone would like to go for an easy trek, they can climb any of the nearby hills and mountains on their own. If you wanna go for a trek with CTC, it should push you beyond your limits and show what you are capable of.
Loka Karthika @ Mauka mauka—So many names like Queen Mauka, Queen Loka joined for u but Mauka is best for you.
Ravi- He neither leads always not lags at any point. A consistent performer throughout.
Selfie Suganya- Gave me company in more than half of the journey and was a helping hand whenever I struggled a bit. Thanks buddy.
Vivek na and Gowtham (his Nephew)- While most of us were trying to complete the trek and match Sankar speed, he was even running in most of the paths. Anna, this is trekking not hill running. 😀 😀 and Gowtham the youngest in our group was following his uncle and was always in the front. Great show guys.
Anbu- If anbu is the sweeper for a trek, I would blindly register and go for it 😀 😀 Not at any point in the two days, his voice went rude. Even when he shouts the name, it was never rude or angry. I wish to see you organizing a trek on your own soon.
Last but not the least, our Gang leader, Ghee Upma Deivam, Sankar anna- I came across so many people in CTC and he is definitely one of the Best in CTC. The way he organize and care for this team cannot be explained with words. You are the best bro!!
And finally the heading for the write-up. I was thinking for the heading name only during my entire second day…and the apt title will be “Peter-ஆக மாறிய Sankar”..
(பார் CTC பார்.. முழுசா Peter ஆக மாறி இருக்கிற உங்கள் அன்பு Sankar ஐ பார் (Chandramuki rajini style)) 😀 😀
– by Vignesh Kumar