I had trekked up the famous Kumara Parvatha Mountains all alone but had to stay put at Girigadde Bhatt’s house after the cyclone raged on without any sign of easing since noon. Woke up early the next morning to catch the sunrise; the sun stayed behind the clouds and never obliged. Got back for a hot water bath and a little rice upma, both managed to lift my spirits and resolve more than I could imagine. The group from Magadi on the other hand ate like there was no tomorrow. So when they backed out at the forest department checkpost saying that the entrance fees of 115 rupees was too much, I had my suspicions about why they really did it! I was disappointed to see them leave, the companionship I was hoping for vanished in thin air, literally, as I moved further into the mountains.
|Just another morning in Kumara Parvatha|
I smeared my shoes and socks with salt in good measure to avoid leeches. Just took the salt meant for food, since folks around these places refuse to part with salt for some strange reason I cannot think of. The rocks were slippery due to the previous day’s rain and progress was slow and measured. The only wild animals I saw were red-coloured crabs, wild fowls and snakes that slithered away as soon as they sensed my approach. After an hour’s trek from the police check-post, I reached the place called “Mantap”, a stone-hedge like structure just below the peak. If I had had tents and company, this would have been the ideal place for a campfire and night-stay.
At around 12 noon, I reached the peak. Mission accomplished! Or at least the trekking up part of it. A dangerous downhill trek to Bidahalli APC was all that remained between me, glory and a lot of bragging rights, only I had forgotten the route to get there. A layer of mist had blanketed the peak reducing visibility to around 10 meters and hampered my search more. Soon it was time to decide whether I would spend more time probing for the trail or return to the Bhatt household where I am sure a sumptuous meal would await me. Dark clouds threatened to open up the skies and my survival instincts that I had suppressed until now woke up from slumber urging me to head back the way I came. Fortunately I found the way to Bidahalli before it could do any damage!
|Red crab! First for me|
The last bus leaving Bidahalli to Somwarpet was at 4 p.m. and I had only 3 and a half hour to tackle 7 kms of treacherous trail and 4 kms of road travel. Sounded like fun. The trail from Kumara Parvatha to Bidahalli is through a dense evergreen forest. I had great difficulty getting down two steeply inclined slopes of around 75 meters due to the rains and the loose gravel and slippery rocks lying around. At a certain location, I had to go across a slimy three meter slope from the side. No way! I thought. I went back for a sturdy stick, used that and a few low hanging branches to jump to the other side.
My euphoria at having crossed the tight spot with the finesse of Tarzen made me overconfident and I slipped the very next step I took. Butt down on a patch of grass. Lucky you would think to fall on grass, only it was home to particularly large specimens of leeches than those I had encountered all day. Every time I fell, I dusted off the leeches, told myself that I did not want to incapacitate myself at this desolate place with no rescue squad waiting in the wings and carried on. So when you do check out the photos of this trip, keep in mind that a lot of real blood and sweat went into getting them to you...
|Try getting down this one...|
With every passing mile, my joy at having conquered the Kumara Parvatha alone grew and so did my concern that I would miss the last available bus from the tiny village of Bidahalli. I quickened my pace, but there is only so fast you can go in a jungle without injuring yourself. Around a km before check-post on this side of the mountain, I met a bunch of teenagers going into the forest. No water bottles, no gunny bags, just gung ho attitudes. I asked one of them where they were heading and he smugly replied “The Peak, of-course”. “Best of luck”, I said and added “you might die you know”. The smile withered to be replaced with concern while I advised him to avoid the peak and head to the Girigaddhe household through a bypass trail 4 kms from the start. You know you have reached adulthood once you can clearly see that all teenagers are douche-bags. The teens went off into oblivion while I emerged triumphant from it.
|The evergreen forests en-route Bidahalli|
After reaching the forest check-post, the forest trail ended, but my trial had just begun. I had to cover the next 4 kms in around 30-35 minutes. I don’t know where I energy and resolve came from, but I increased my pace and also started running whenever I encountered an inclined road. And finally managed to catch the bus, full filmi style. There was only one person who conquered the Kumara Parvatha this Diwali, ME. I felt and still feel such a great sense of pride and awe that I think I am going to start referring to myself in third person from now on. “Your highness will now respond to your comments...”