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Friday 1 September 2017

Kudremukh Trek

This Onam holidays was a special one! Flawless timing, perfect group of four and an ideal place that we chose to experience our time with nature.
To be precise, Kudremukh Peak is the third highest in Karnataka State which stands at1894 m (6050 ft). As my brother Anish, had already set the puzzle fit plan including the food and accommodation at Rajegowda mana (one of the few home stays in Kudremukh), we the other three had to just hook up with it. We started from Gudalur at around 6 PM in my brother’s i20 with minimal packages of clothing, trekking accessories and a camera to click.
Driving is like an art when my brother does it. In the shallow moonlight, he drove us through Mudumalai and Bandipur Tiger Reserve. We were less lucky to find any wild but all of us spotted a few deers and elephants. With much less anticipation, we just drove the long running black wet roads. To compromise with our hunger at times, we had some fruits by hand.  Meanwhile, we noticed that most of the shops and hotels were already closed after Mysore and was in hurry to find some in our way. Finally, found one hotel to have our dinner at Berya. We realized that language definitely is not a barrier but could be comic sometimes that we managed to get what we wanted. Our drive through the Mysore - Mangalore road, headed to Hassan – Mudigere - and then to Kalassa. The humps in roads to Kalassa were uncountable. Literally, the jumps on humps woke us up from naps. So, be cautious when it comes to your turn!
After driving 370 km, we reached Balagal town at 3 A.M, from where we hired a jeep to Mullodi village which is the base village of the Kudremukh Trek. One cannot take their own vehicles until the home stays because of rough and muddy roads.  As we reached much earlier, we took a nap from the car and at around 5 A.M we set onto the jeep which charged around 600 rupees until the Mullodi village.
The jeep trial of around 7 km was another jerking experience. The day light loomed in from the east and provided a perfect picturesque of the peaks around. At some point, the jeep driver pointed to the peak where our destination was! Looking forward, we crossed tiny streams and muddy roads and finally reached Rajegowda mana, a descent home stay with view of various grasslands and mountains of Kudremukh

The place was calm and tuned with the live sound of waterfalls running parallel to the home stay. There were some other groups to share the stay. The chill and fresh water wiped off all the droopiness we had from the day before. After having the steamed rice bowls, chutney and strong brewing coffee, we groomed ourselves for the trek with our backpacks including packed lunch prepared at Rajegowda mana, water bottles and trekking accessories. (It is better to carry a minimal pack as you are destined to trek a long way.) We wore our leech socks onto which every others were staring at with anxiety of knowing what exactly that was!

 The ideal time to start the trek is early morning. Around 8.30 A.M, we set our feet move on, aiming at Kudremukh Peak! Two co-trekkers joined our group so as to lead by one guide. We paid the trek fee of Rs 350 per head at the base camp and Rs 500 for the guide. (If it was the case of eight members and more, the trek fee could be raised to Rs 475 per head)

Western Ghats has always been a wonder! Initial trek through the divided sholas and grasslands felt different from the others. The rainforest was sketched with dark green and textured with moist surfaces. The weather favoured us so good that we effortlessly trailed up the first set. As expected and prepared for, there were less leaches on the way.

During the trek, we heard the calling of peacocks from far way and our guide spotted a completely fanned out tailed peacock, standing still on the meadow patches. He seemed to be welcoming us to their home. We moved forward through the first set of forest to reach the peace tree. Alike a huge umbrella which gives shade to hundreds of living beings, the peace tree stood sheltering the tiring people with abundant fresh air.  Anyone would rest a few minutes there to regain their energy lost.

After a few peaceful clicks, we started to continue the trek through the forest. The bitter forest amlas, tiny gorgeous flowers of different colours, snails, grass snake, and the sight of the peak at various zigzag points, tiny streams, everything triggered and kept us engaged all through the trek.
Ascents got over and we were then welcomed to the patches of greenly beautiful meadows  where there was a single tree (Ondi maram) and an info board after 4 kms.

Eyes stuck to the meadows and we just sat there for a while to feel the bustling winds blowing onto our faces. Revealing better about the meadows with a simple metaphor could be a woolen green blanket wrapped upon the mountains. It looked so soft and wrinkleless. There were unwinding meadows lying far away and patches of rainforests dozing between them. Great! It was a perfect dream land.

While some of our co-trekkers were rushing to the peak, we just leaped onto the famous saying “Slow and steady wins the race!” Slow and steady pace gave us enough energy and time to enjoy the captivating moments. The nature has favoured us so well that each and every time we feel a bit tiring, a stream fills up our energy.  For another 3 hours, we just trailed through the best mishmash of rainforest with streams and then the meadows.  As we neared the peak, the grasslands behind seemed so vast and panoramic that we found hard to fit the whole beauty into our camera frame. That view charged and urged us to move on.

Reaching the peak was a bit tough. Heart beats pumped up, but mind urged not to stop and reminded that, it was the last gradient to the peak. Finally, after a long five hours trek, we reached the Peak at around 12.30 P.M! The fogs came rushing, welcoming all the nature lovers. Clouds under our feet level, we just lay looking up and the only thing ruling us for the moment was the Sky!

We freed our legs, hands, mind and heart from all the clutches and lay there for a while. As the sun stroke 1.00 P.M., we couldn’t free our stomach, roaring out of hunger. Sreejith, one among us, made effort to carve some beautiful spoons out of bamboo which he got from our way. Our taste buds appreciated the food, even though it was just a pack of tamarind rice.

The fog came rushing through the peaks and started captivating the space. Around 1.40 P.M., we started trailing down after clicking the momentous achievement! Anticipating heavy rains, the weather fortunately favoured us with a drizzle. While trailing down, we spotted mountains far away, white in colour, thoroughly contrast to the green meadows! I guess many of them would have missed it in their rush to reach down as soon as possible.

As we descent, the streams at intervals seemed unwinding.  Our legs became more ashen and tired. The light started looming out of frame and the crickets were getting ready for their evening alarms. Purple patches were formed in the sky as the sun set and around 6.30 P.M., we reached the base camp. After freshening up we waited for the strong coffee and delicious onion pakoda and chilly bajji.

To our surprise, we just felt more refreshing the whole night. After dinner, we settled down in a room, Anishettan and Sreejith settled down in the tent outside the home.

As we had to move on for our further plans, we freshened up and gathered everything. Around 7.30 A.M., we got ready with all our bags packed. After the breakfast we bid bye to Rajegowda mana and got onto the jeep, recollecting what had happened till then. The jeep dropped us at the car parking area and we set off to the way ahead.

While returning, Anishettan opted the way through the Kudremukh National Park, through the thick hilly forests. It was beautiful to watch the fog fusing in from the top as we moved on. While driving through the Sringeri road, came across a long hanging bridge overlooking the river and then the KIOCL mining site. Driving through a dark tinch paused for a while when we reached Lakya Dam, a place with emerald green water resting adjacent to the flowing river. The view can be best seen from the bridge, overlooking it. Getting down there was a jackpot hit to witness several hornbills that have just started to fly. We could spot a minimum of six to ten hornbill babies flying through the hilly terrains, from one tree to the other.

Heading on, we happened to witness around forty plus butterflies at Sammilan Shetty’s Butterfly Park in Belvai.

With handful of new information’s and pleasant sight we drove through Moodabidri and reached Ullal, border to the state of Kerala. Our wheels then took a pause at Bekal fort after Kasargod finally ending our trek at Akshara’s home in Calicut at 11 P.M.

Contrast beauties of the nature kept us wondering about how vast and beautiful the world is.  The greens at the peak, vivid colours of the butterflies, hues of blue and white of the sea and the sky, the dark tinch of the forests, altogether made the palette of our trip colourful and a worthy one. Looking forward a lot, seizing all moments happened in two days to the memory box!

                                                                                              Author : Sudhina Vk

  Clicked by : Anish
   Team: Anish, Sreejith, Akshara, Sudhina
Place  :  Kudremukh Peak, Chikkamagaluru, Karnataka.
Elevation Min/Max : 1894 Meters,
Km Covered      : 1day|| 20 Kms 
Basecamp Stay : RajeGowda - Ph :9481179008