Wednesday, February 10, 2010

KumaraParvatha (KP) trek

Well, The saying goes… Dreams are not only to be dreamt, Dreams are to be lived! KumaraParvatha, aka KP aka Pushpagiri was on our hit list for quite long. So far I had only read about how difficult the trek is and the trekker in me was pushing me to go there. Finally in November 2009, we did conquer KP successfully and that’s a long story that now unfolds. Me, Raja, Guru and Nag were part of this trek again. Route: 2 routes to KumaraParvatha 1. Start from behind the temple at Kukke Subramanya; go via the Bhattara mane, SheshaParvatha, Kallu Mantapa to reach KP. The descent can be on the same route or towards Beedhalli – Somwarpet. Ascent or from Kukke side usually takes more than a day as it’s steep. 2. Reach Somwarpet and from there Beedhalli – the forest office is the starting point and from there to top of KP (directions are well mentioned here). Descent can be either same route or towards Kukke. We planned to trek from Somwarpet side and get down towards Kukke the next day halting on the top for the night. Tickets to Somwarpet by KSRTC Rajahamsa and return tickets from Kukke by KSRTC Volvo were booked. As read in Santosh’s blog, the plan fixed was to leave by the Rajahamsa bus to Somwarpet and catch the connecting bus to Beedhalli at 7:20am and then start trekking. During recent times, often have been our trips without any twist in the tale and now too was one such happening happening that is being unfolded in parts.
Part1 – The previos day of our travel, Raja was not sure of coming with us on this trek! Frantic exchange of calls and it was decided that we would go ahead with our trek leaving behind him, but still negotiations were on.

Part2 – 20th November 2009 – I, Guru and Nag boarded the 9pm bus at Majestic and we were in constant touch with Raja. He said he would be free by 12am and it would be difficult to join. As our journey started, I and Guru were scratching our body – Bedbugs! Crap! So far the first time such a horrible experience in a KSRTC bus.

Part3 – Half asleep in the bus at around 12, Raja called back to inform his job was done and what next… we told him rush back home, pick up your bag, catch a taxi, reach SMTC bus stand, travel to Mysore and from there to Somwarpet. Mind you this was not during daytime but at night. He agreed!

Part4 – Raja rushed back home and called again to check for any cab no’s. I google’d on my E63, found out a 24hr taxi service and gave the contact info. Luckily it worked out and he got the cab by 1:30am. He took the 2:30am bus from SMTC bus stand and reached Mysore by 4:30am. Again took the 1st bus to at 5am and reached Somwarpet by 7am! He was looking dead tired and we were very happy to have him accompany us. In the mele, he forgot to bring his jacket, shoes as well as his camera. Nevertheless we didn’t want him to miss this trek and the wish was fulfilled! An adventure before the adventure itself! :)

Okay! Now as we had missed the connecting bus to Beedhalli, we hired a jeep to drop us till the starting point of the trek for Rs 600/- that was around 20kms away. 12pm and off we started from near the temple. The first destination was the Beedhalli APC (Anti Poaching Camp) that is couple of kms away, where we need to pay some fees and register our details with them for security purpose. This was the first time we had plans to tent atop and were carrying a tent, sleeping mats and food items with us. These were the crucial added weights on to our backs.

Signboards are put up all along the way (Kodagu district range) that helps people find the way easily. About 4+ kms from the APC, the trek path divides into two – one goes directly to the peak but you need to do some bit of rock climbing and hang on to slippery rocks, the other goes around this and joins the route from Kukke, the 2nd route is a long route but those who can’t manage the rocks have to take the 2nd route itself.

The trek from Beedhalli is mostly through dense forest, with the sun hardly able to peep in. The stretch is a continuous uphill with lots of twists and turns and crossing numerous dry streams (however the streams were dry). We reached the first rocky stretch after a good 2 hours of trek with minimal stops. It looked simple and we started ascending it, took a break sitting on the rocks, having some glucose, chocolates and to relax our muscles.We met another group of 6 trekkers who were also going up and were camping there, they had left an hour prior to us but we caught up with them. Another 30 minutes later we reached the deviation and also the base of the 2nd rocky stretch. My first impression was OMG! This is something exciting! The rocks are at a 60 degree elevation and slippery due to overnight rains! First went Nag who somehow managed to cross the wet patch. Then went our baggage one by one, then we crossed the wet patch holding on to a stick held out by him. Uff! One major hurdle crossed. We were all panting and rested for another break. Small break and I started to move to climb and cross this entire rocky stretch, others followed soon. We were running short of energy but our determination carried our legs forward towards the peak.We were nearing the peak and our breaks were getting longer. The 3rd rocky stretch was smaller and we quickly ascended it. The sun was wonderfully playing hide n seek amongst the clouds and that itself was a treat to watch. Finally at around quarter to 5pm, we reached the top of KP. What a relief! We just threw our bags down and collapsed to the ground. The last 5 hours was something unexplainable and the chillness in the air was increasing gradually and the sunlight diminishing.But time was running out as we had to set up our tent before the light got completely wiped off. Another 10 minutes of head scratching and our tent was ready and we strengthened it with stones at all corners so that the top cover does not fly in the strong breeze (as happened during Tadiandamol trek). We had taken along a big tent that could accommodate 4 people and 3 sleeping mats with bedspreads carried by us. Beautiful scenery all around with the setting sun and my camera was out on business as others started collecting firewood. The problem was all the wood around was damp and hardly any dry timber being found, still we managed to collect some and we had carried along kerosene too. My camphor stove was out heating up our afternoon food packets and they vanished in seconds. Sun almost gone, temperatures going downhill and the campfire after much persuasion started showing signs of life! As expected an hour later rains…!Again, as always it lasted for about 10 good minutes enough to play spoilsport and create havoc. The campfire was almost wiped off, water had seeped in through the window openings, all our items got scattered and with no source of light, we were a confused lot huddled up together in the dark.After the rains left, we started cleaning the mess, the campfire now took a longer time to jump back to life, covered up all gaps from where water could seep in if again it rains, our tent was wiped clean and wet items were out of the tent. Ah! Finally everything back to normal. Post 8pm the camphor stove was in demand again as we started heating the ready to eat food packets to be feasted upon like hungry wild tigers finding food after a long time. Mist was all around and the surroundings damp and wet. Caps, jackets, sweaters, gloves, bedspreads were all in great demand now that we rued carrying all the way up! 9pm and it was Good Night from all of us! The sleep was uneventful except for 1 or 2 of us waking up suddenly scared by the weird sounds of the fast blowing winds and to ensure the tent was safe and in place.6:30am and as we peeped out, we could hardly see anything, the sun was slowly rising behind the clouds, mist was all around making the visibility poorer, cool winds were still blowing, the campfire had almost died due to suffocation… but this is what we were here for (Some joys, happiness can’t be expressed and I leave it at that!). Campfire was brought back to life and we lazed around a bit, dismantled the tent and went around the surroundings. 8am and we were packed to leave. The first challenge was to descend down a cliff that was not looking improbable but was tough as it was all damp due to the mist, one slip and you will found some 100 meters downhill either alive or dead.Slowly and carefully we got down to enter a shola range and again trek uphill to reach the top of SheshaParvatha. This is right next to KumaraParvatha and is sometimes confused to be KP by the people who trek from Kukke. It’s like you are on top of KP, then get down half way vertically and again climb up SheshaParvatha that literally consumed more than an hour of our time. Good light, amazing scenery and our photo sessions started and after a break of 30 minutes we started moving again. From here till the end we kept on meeting many trekkers who were ascending and everybody enquiring, how further? How further? And the reason we got to experience later.

From here the trek was entire downhill and in the open sun in reverse to how we had trekked up the previous day under continuous shade. Small narrow paths and climbing down one hillock after another and it never seemed to end. The sun was literally punishing hot, we were tiring too easily, no shade to rest, and I was slipping every now and then! After an hour we reached the famous Kallu Mantapa that is the only place of rest and camping between Bhattara mane and SheshaParvatha. A quick 10 minutes break and we started off again, the path looked endless, sweating like hell, and we carried on. Finally around 12 noon we landed at Bhattara mane to see lot of other trekkers present there. The missing trekkers group was also there and this was their 3 day!!! Rest, a quick bath in the small stream nearby, food and again rest and we were kind of rejuvenated after the break of about 2 hrs. We thanked the Bhattaru for serving food and he’s been doing this for years now and note this is the only source of food and rest enroute and also if you are stuck anywhere in between (there are no small shops selling curds or tea or lime juice as seen while trekking up Kodachadri… KP is only for hardcore trekkers!). The trek is not done still; the terrain further is better as we had to trek through forest cover but mostly downhill. Another 3 hours of tiring trek and finally we reached the end place just behind the temple street. Me and Nag reached first and fell to the ground… Raja and Guru came a little later and then came the missing group trekkers who started off prior to us.

Now all that we needed was some good rest as the KSRTC Volvo bus was at 11pm. But as it was a festival day at Kukke (Subburayana Shashti), no rooms in any corner were available and the whole town wore a festive look with all lights, colors and hordes of visiting pilgrims. Guru’s battery life was diminishing as he was looking completely drained out (probably first time he was looking so dead tired…!). I and Raja paid a visit to the temple shrine and as we came out it started raining. Guru and Nag stayed back as Guru needed some desperate rest. We were stranded for more than an hour in the rain and finally we went running back holding a towel to the bus stand as we could not wait further. After the rains stopped, Me, Raja and Nag decided to venture out on to the streets with everything looking colorful and the festive buzz all around. The camera was in vogue again me trying to capture the colorful chariots, streets, and the various designs with lights put on…

Boarding the Volvo, as I remember vaguely, there was utter traffic chaos as hordes of pilgrims were still pouring in and the KSRTC had to make humungous arrangement to ferry them to and fro. Back in the comfort of the seats as the bus just started moving… … … we all woke up when the conductor shouted “yaar ri 8ne mile 8ne mile”, never got to realize how the 6 hour journey passed by!

Back in the office the next day and with all limbs in all corners of the body aching, limping everywhere due to cramps, the joyous pain only subsided after a week or so only with the exception of Nag.

Sitting here, completing this blog, a sense of pride, accomplishment, bows to god as this went off without a hitch, the joyous moments, sweat soaked tired looking faces, hungry wild tigers, insane jokes and moments – everything is passing right across my mind as I stare into the horizon and hope our adventures should never cease.

Trek Distance: From Somwarpet (Beedhalli APC) to KP – 7kms; total trek – around 12kms from the bus stop. Distance: KP to Bhattara mane (Girigadde) – 7kms, Bhattara mane to Kukke – 6kms; total trek – 13kms. KP is known as “Pushpagiri” on the Kodagu side.

Girigadde Bhattara mane: 9448647947 / 9945618495 – Keep them informed about your arrival, they can serve food for more than 100 people at once.

Tips: The place is clean so far... leave it as it is!
Plastics are a no-no please! Carry loads of water and snacks.

Care for the nature and the nature cares for you!

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