“Most just get wet, only some feel the rain”
…And it had been a long time since I had truly felt the rain. It was the monsoon season and I longed to truly spend some time in the wilderness soaking it all in. BTC and vikram couldn’t have timed it better inviting all enthusiasts for a trek to the gerusoppa valley and dabbe falls , part of the sharavathi valley. It was 2 day long difficult grade trek covering almost 35kms of hilly terrain comprising of a visit to the Dabbe falls, kannur fort and Jain temple. I signed right up.
All the trekkers caught up near shantala silks and there were at least 4 groups of trekkers exploring different locations. I managed up to catch up with some trekkers who I had met in the past, Anirudh, Ashutosh, Shruti and of course Vikram. It was almost 10 p.m by the time we all huddled into the tempo traveller and began our long 350 km journey to shimoga. As per ‘BTC traditions’, we began the introductions of the trekkers with a game of dumb charades ; it was almost 1.30 a.m by the time we were done. It a was good mix, we had an engineer from ISRO, Jai; a doctor in making, Darshan; Bio technologists, Meghna & pallavi and the usual group of software techies, Vivek, aparna, rakesh, sampath, yousouf.
After a rather bumpy ride, the sleepy bunch reached sagara by 7 a.m or so, freshened up by 9 a.m or so, we began the hour long to the trek start point amidst the hills. BTCians have a habit of not wasting even a second while on a trek, here we had more than an hour. What better way than dance in tempo which is zig zagging on the ghat roads. You might not have sure footing, but hey, that can be construed as just another step.
Post disembarking, we were introduced to our guides Ganapathi and Mahesh and our cook, Umapathi. Ganapathi set the tone for the rest of the trek; “don’t ask how far to the destination, just walk for the next 2 days”. We split the groceries amongst the group and the intelligent ones covered their backpacks with plastic covers.
And we were off…
Through the ravines and over the narrow bridges, over the hillocks hand in hand in with the leeches, oh, the leeches. Satan’s minions sucking the blood out of a group of enthusiastic trekkers. Only half hour into the trek, it started raining only spurring the leeches further. In all fairness this was what we all signed up for and we had no right to complain.
I was truly enjoying myself but had lot of difficulty capturing anything at all using my camera; got it wet within a few hours into the trek. The trek took us through some dense forest pathways next to the river, narrow streams, waterfalls and rice paddy fields. The variety of terrain never allowed a minute of boredom and the rain took kept us cool, literally. Ganapathi helped us out with a homemade leech formulas to keep the leeches off ; it didn’t really help a lot though with the rain washing it all away within minutes.
After few hours of trek, we finally reached our first check point which also happened to be our lunch point; a small isolated house which seemed pretty much in the middle of nowhere. We unloaded some of the groceries with umapathi all set to prepare a hot lunch for all of us. In the mean time, the trekkers were requested to unload all luggage in preparation for the most exciting part of the day, trek to Dabbe falls, which was located hardly a km away..on the map i.e. The trek required passing through some extremely difficult terrain, made only worse by the incessant rain. We climbed down steep gradients for 250 feet or so , using support of only tree roots and rocks on the way down. Thankfully we all reached safe & sound and a truly breathtaking sight awaited us. Dabbe falls roared in front of us in its complete monsoon glory; teasing us with brief glimpses, only revealing itself for a few moments before shrouding itself in mist again.
The group spent 30 minutes or so here, soaking it all in. We would have liked to spend more time here but we still had a long day ahead of us with many miles to cover; and we were hungry. The difficult trek back up took another 25 minutes or so and we raced towards to our check point to have hot rasam , rice and pickle. The cool weather and the rain, beautiful scenery in front of us and piping hot food, what else could one ask for in the middle of nowhere?
We set off again towards our next check point late afternoon; it was more of the same except it started raining profusely. The group was pretty much used to it by now though. We hardly saw only people along the way, only few houses here and there; Not that anyone was complaining, there are enough to us back home.
The rice paddy fields were overflowing with water and there was good descending ridge system which allowed excess water flow out once each level was saturated, Farming 101. We obviously got quite thirsty midway, but hey, how can there be a dearth of water when its is raining 24×7. Placed the bottles right under the so called “mother daughter” falls, a narrow stream of water really flowing down a slope.
We had trekked almost 8 kms now from when we started late afternoon but there was no end in sight and to be honest some of us were reaching our per day trekking limits. Fading evening light finally helped us reach the final check point which also happened to be the place of stay for that night. Scampering around in the darkness with a few torches, the group quickly changed into dry clothes to enter the warm abode of our gracious hosts of the evening. Umapathi’s hot tea warming the body on its way down and we were onto discussing the day’s journey while others applied healing lotions on to the aching knees. (Including me who ended up developing a rather severe knee pain). To take the pain away, vikram pulled out his trump card, “Mafia”. Yes, the legendary addictive game famous amongst all trekkers. Post a brief explanation to the beginners, we got to the first game. It was exciting as hell for an hour and with cunning mafia gang pulling off a victory , BTCians couldn’t stop raving about the game. As we were, it was also time to have the freshly prepared dinner along with payasam for dessert. Discussion at dinner time was all around Mafia and how could we possible crash for the night without another game, which we did. The cunning Mafia group was at it again they again ended pulling off a sneaky victory. It was quite late into the night and about time that we hit the bed…or the floor in this case.
Yawn ! Waking up early in the morning after a long 17 km trek and a night of Mafia…way more than difficult than it sounds. The fragrance of the fresh sevai from the kitchen spurred everyone to freshen as up as soon as possible and we were up and ready by 9.30 a.m. Umapathi’s Tasty puliogare was packed for lunch and the rain gods beckoned the start of the morning trek with a fresh dose of showers. One snap and we were off again.
The day 2 trek was to cover a journey of almost 17 kms again including a visit to kanoor fort which was 8 kms away from the base camp. The journey began through thick forests and I ended tearing my poncho here; I suppose it wasn’t really meant for trekking through thorny bushes, it barely protected me from the rain. The landscape was more or less the same, only Day 2 we faced off again many more leeches. Some of them even managed to ‘trek up’ to my neck region. Rakesh’s detol concoction and shruti’s relispray saved the day here for many of us. After about 3 hours of trek, we finally reached kanoor fort. Ganapathi briefed us history on the history of the fort. The golden days of the fort were obviously long over and for the last few centuries, forest has taken over the fort.At its peak though, the fort was ruled by Queen Chennabhairadevi, more popularly known as “Pepper Queen” as she exported a lot of pepper to Europe.We spent about 30 minutes or so exploring the ruins.
Kanoor fort is located on a hilltop and a 3 km+ of downhill trek coupled with 3 kms of walk on hilly terrain was what left to reach the lunch checkpoint. My knee gave me some problem due to the downhill terrain and I ended up lagging behind. Thankfully I had some company in shruthi , vikram , ganapathi and sampath. Somewhere on our way back to the checkpoint though , we did up losing our way though and ended walking another half a kilometer unnecessarily. Some repetitions of “oho” and ganapathi managed to locate us and we were back on track. The final stretch to the checkpoint passes through some civilization (finally!) and we wondered as to how folks stay so isolated & comfortably. The last few hundred meters takes one over some old rickety bridges which was fun. The stragglers finally reached the lunch check point at almost 5 p.m and we finally joined the rest of the group for the much required evening lunch after a very tiresome trek.
Unfortunately it was not over yet. We barely finished our lunch that it started raining again and there was another 6 kms left to cover. My knee was not in state to cover 6 kms for sure. Thankfully anirudh and shubham shared my back pack load and we started our journey to the final checkpoint. Shruthi and vikram gave us company. This final phase of the trek was the best part of the trek and was a excellent finishing touch to what I wanted to experience; and not because I had minimal load :). Dim & Fading evening light, continuous rain & sharavathi river on the side gave us continuous company in what seemed a very isolated middle of nowhere with no humans in sight. It was surreal.
After almost another 90 minutes of walk, we finally reached civilization , the gerusoppa village. It was certainly a partially welcome sight. We reached the river bank just in time as we spotted the rest of the group crossing the river. The last of us crossed the river in the next round and got to healing our leech wounds and taking some well deserved rest, albeit in a moving van. In order to thank the lord for his blessings and his unseen support through out the journey we decided to visit the Anajaneya temple in gerusoppa village. On a side note and secondary reason, we had dinner at the temple as well since the nearest restaurant was 60 km away. We thanked our guides one last time before the boarding the bus and well,,rest is history. I recall the rest of the night only in glimpses, BTCians flat on the van floor as if its made of softest cushion, twisting & turning on the seat as the tempo traveller sped and slowed at every speed bump.
Early morning, 8.am or so, we finally reached bangalore. Waiving our final goodbyes, we bid adieu , hoping to meet again for our next adventure.