Crossing Nine Hills - Ombattu Gudda Trek

11/19/2009 01:03:00 AM

"Take nothing for granted. Not one blessed, cool mountain day, or one hellish, desert day or one sweaty stinky hiking companion. Its all a gift."

photo courtesy: adi
If it wouldn't have been, why would I still decide to do a hardcore trek?...that too, after a hectic week at office, and friday no better either. I call up Ravi, from CTC (1) friday afternoon, Nov 13th, telling that, I am'nt sure of making to this trip. probably calling him around 7pm to confirm. The last time we spoke on phone, I assured I can get out this weekend, and he informing me that we need to reach City station a little later and 11:30PM instead. I take Vinod's number from him to sync up our travel to the station, and we three, Vinod, Bhargav and Me, reach station around 11PM to find Chennai group already there and few of bangalorean making it to the spot as well.

Since 2 of chennai people had missed the train, we wait for them to catch us, get out of bangalore around 1 AM. by this time the familiarity index rises, and Pavan, Ravindra and Neelima are not the only one I knw personally. The UNO session goes great, (I like it) and soon after it lights fade off and we wake up to notice we are in Shiradi Ghat, a little ahead of Gundiya checkpost near a bridge and few houses cum shops. meanwhile I keep struggling with the glass window and cool breeze hitting me hard through out the night and this goes with out saying that I hardly had a sleep. :(

We are 36 people, heading to Ombattu Gudda hill range, in Sahyadri Mountains profoundly called Western Ghats in India. whats so special about this trek is the stories of people getting lost in jungles, wild life, and no trails. from CTC this is 6th hiking trip to OG termed OG-6. we have 2 GPS, maps of the terrain, ration, precations, and attitude, and we are all set. soon after the distribution of food and common stuff, we start our trail towards north, around 8:40 AM. If I am missing out on something, indeed that'd be leeches, and precautionary majors would be snuff power mixed in oil, eucalytus oil, salt and yes, quicklime (calcium carbonate).

I should refer to the indicativ map -jpeg in my previous post now, The trail which take you through bamboo and thick forest, crosses multiple "small" 2 steps streams until we we reach the water park. thats the river/stream in west-to-east direction and possibly meeting another North-South stream (see map) which is flowing beside us, but in opposite direction. there cant be a better place to have breakfast, sitting in the midst of river on slippery rocks and water sliding on you. we should have covered some 6 kms in 2 hours by now, and everyone takes a good break before we start our journey ahead.

In my last approx one year of trekking, I havent seen these many leeches before, and not been bitten by 'em this badly, but this is just the start. and then comes the mashrooms, which I avoid having taking so many pictures already in Bandajje. Oh, did I mention, I am not carrying my 450D, The reason I remember talking to Ravi, some time in September for tada nagala trip, and he asking me to keep the heavy cam at home, if I am slow pacer, secondry thinking how many varied options and situation, I'd get I relied on to canon powershot, and brought it with one set of batteries. hence the result, I am not clicking many pictures this time.

it seems to be easy going trek, until claudy makes us go upside down bring us back to same trail, again n again and making fool out of us. or is it warm-up session, I doubt. the stream on our right keep on growing in it width and roar. i spot a beautiful playful pool made by rocks in the middlemost of the stream, which looks like made exclusively for angels. A little ahead is where we hit the stream and rest on the big rocks and falls created by those, while few of us jump in to water again. snacks time I think.

So well, Looks easy till now isnt it. my camera battery goes down here and I take some shots from Ravindra's camera. we must have walked 10+Km by now, and I was wondering if I am gonna see a gorgeous fall. but it doesnt appear. all I see is the stream or call it river, gives it a better perspective. here we do see another group as well, or I am not sure, My eyes could be mistaken, because I dont see 'em again. The path ahead surprizes me, what are we up to?

here we go try cross the stream, but our shoes in Knee high water, and then we think we can save the other, and keep on attempting the same, not to realize the river is our TRAIL for the the day. walk in the middle against the flow, over the rocks in the corners, or make your way through the thick and thorny jungle on both sides, the choice is all yours. so here you find the uniqueness of this trek. waterfall no where to be seen, no plain land either, not even a spot, its just the river and the jungle and in the middle we are, wet and bitten by leeches, stinking, struggling, slipping, and making our way through the bushes.

1 hour or 2, could have been enough, but this goes on for the day, and we get used to of it, until its dark and we encounter a situation or two where one group is left behind and all I remember is a count from 1 to 36, Oh someone suggested counting ABCD too for a change. anyways, we find our camping site in the center dot of a place in Y shape (see map again, its quite prominent) made by the stream. its dark and late, and we are wet and hungry. the cooking session by expert goes for long, and everyone doing there bit, we set up a night stay quite unusual and something we have never experienced before.

Most of the time in my treks, I'll jump in to the water as soon as I see it, but this time, I am keeping a distance, I had been wet through out yesterday and I slept the night off in wet clothes. so morning when most of the folks are back again playing in water, I just go near it to shot some pictures, and yea troubling Ajay a little bit, making him do Yoga in the middle of the stream. We finish oure breakfast, and tea, and start the day, which is yes, crossing the "waist high waters". Leech Akraman (attack) was over the previous night. today it is 85 degree slope, loose rocks and sand. in that shape of Y we hike to the hill on our left across the stream. and reach to the top and did you imagine a trail? then sorry, Nope, no trail. its wherever Claudy takes us.

only one small stream, and we reach the top of the mountain, and finally our DOF increases, it must be around 1PM and we see a glimpse of the valley, finally feeling we're out of the jungle and finally about to reach grasslands and the peak. for OG we have to cross the hill, meaning go a bit down and cross the jungle on the other side of this hill, of which with curiosity I ask Vinod to tell me the name, and he is :-~ :-? :-} .

The direction must be a little north west right now., and in no time the Jungle is finally over. 2 PM Sunday and sun is bright, the pickle-chapati lunch and from here, the slow - nice - full of picture hike (should I say -walk) to the OG hills starts. Does it ever ends?
Everyone keeps on thinking this must be the last hill, and another shows up. numerous hills with sharp grass spread over, to cross and finally we rest our bodies on OG2. In the middle we enjoy the view of hills on the east side named Deepadakallu and another one I need to research and put. across those must be the most gorgeous Kumar Parvatha, around 30-40KM aerial distance. towards the south in the midst of the valley we see a glimpse of a stream, guessing this should be the same stream but at far distance, then where we touched it first and last.

From OG2 (Second of the series of Nine Hills- Ombattu means 9 in Kannada) the decend starts. the target is to reach Hosakere, via the Jeep trek visible on the last hill, and for that we need to cross the remaining of the grasslands, and jungle and a private estate (Lakshmi Estate I think) we miss our entrance in the jungle once, and then find anther tailor made trail ( I am naming it Guna Trail - dedicated to Guna who found it) which must be the happiest moment for us. since it is around 4:30Pm and is getting darker, for us to get lost again can never be an option. well thanks to the folks who made that trail, crossing jungle for the final time has been a pleasure. and soon we cross the estate and reach the jeep trek only to know its another 10 km left still.

Lightining, Star lit Sky, cool wind, rocky, grassy, muddy path, and the walk in the dark, add some more leech drama to it, make up to our last 2 and a half hour walk on the OG hills for the day. This is when we take a shortcut to the bridge where bus arrives and pass a few paddy fields and a village/resort gate. hardcore trekkers must still be alive, but others are exhausted. the bus arrives and goes 1 KM ahead to the way we came from, just to take a reverse, and we curses why couldn't we have stopped there only.

Dinner at Nakshatra Garden Dhaba, must be one heck of hillarious experience too, with All pulling ramjan's leg and delay in food, switching of lights deliberatily to that gaurd coming out teasing the bus driver again and again and poor guy just making a wish to leave the place and go. We reach Bangalore around 6 Am monday and after some fun head home while chennai gang wait for their train at the station.

OG is long over, pictures, mail-threads and blogs are pouring in. The usual rituals or call it the must thing. I am sitting at home , with hanging my legs upside down with bandages in both. There is a itch in both mind and the body. Body is healing, Mind had his good time and is back in turmoil again.

photo courtesy: pavan

There are few things left over to do with the post still, firstly the pictures, taking which out my flash card, is a big job. have to collect the pictures from friends too, so you gotta wait for those, till then imagine, as you walk through the post, and if you cant' let me knw, I think I need to write it better..

Second is to mention about the group, which went a day before us, and got lost, Not sure if they were well equiped but thankfully they reached back safe. Well, I am no expert trekker, but Just one thing to mention, bravery is not in getting lost but to find your way out with out trouble. use anything for that, a guide, gps, trails or your brain & senses. everything is good.

As per my observations, if we stay close to the water source, its easy to figure out where you are or probably look for help too. so have your ear open when your in there. you know only a river would lead you back to civilization.

(1) CTC - Chennai trekking Club
(2) MAP
(3) Total distance ~20Km each day.
(4) Start point - Gundiya, Shiradi Ghat , Opposite to where you start from Kukke Subramanya & Kumar parvata.
End Point - Hosakere.
(5) Road Taken - NH-206 to Arsikere and NH48 to Sakleshpur--> Shiradi. till gundiya check post. & from Hosakere to Sakleshpur and back to the same route.
Road Distance 500/550KM To and Fro.

PS. Thanks to all the volunteers, Claudy, Guna, Vinod, Ravi, Asvin, Ajay, Vipin, Sibin, and all the Names I may not remember, but the faces I do.

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