Thursday, August 03, 2006

Survival of the Fittest, and the bravest.

Hmm.. so after a successful trek, I'v immediately come down with either a remote possibilty of Mumps or an acute inflammation of the jaw. As if being chubby wasn't enough!!

Anyway, coming back to my trek. What started as chaos ended up being a fight for survival. Naneghat was proclaimed as a simple climb in the many websites I read up. Getting there was simple enough, coz my professors from college had planned it. We were a group of 11, 6 girls, 3 boys and 2 professors from our University. The prof who initiated the trip has been trekking from the last 25 years as compared to my measely 2 years!!

We started the trip at 1:30, and started trekking by 5. Till 6 our spirits were still up, but our legs and backs a little tired because of the 10 kg+ haversacks we were carrying. We crossed streams, rivulets and then fast flowing rivers too. We reached a plateau from where we could see our final destination point.

Energized, we started stomping again after an elaborate and our last official photo session. Soon we found ourselves walking amongst dense foilage and on a very small jungle kind of a road. After some time, we crossed one more small rivulet which entwined its way into our path. Meaning we were then walking within the rivulet, climbing up steadily. We missed our paths a few times because of rubbed arrow marks, and reverted back to the right path.

We dint even realize when we started walking into a full forced waterfall. Dusk was embracing us and it was becoming difficult to place our foot on the proper rocks ie;ones which were niether slippery nor too jagged. We fished our torches out and set plodding our way up again. By then, the gentle drizzle we had started with increased to throbbing rain. And consequently the rush of the water had increased too and so had the wind. We all formed human chains and trudged up with each others help. It was pitch dark now, with the torch we couldn't see beyond two feet and without we could not even see our own hands. We had been on the road from 3 hours now. We were all looking out for each other, calling out danger areas and asking the people behind to either keep left or right because of a sheer drop on the other side. We were walking inside a pounding waterfall, following its course upwards to its source, where we would find the cave where we were supposed to rest for the night. And we were all praying fervently that we were on the right track and not lost amidst the jungle and the waterfall.

Someone would jubilantly scream that the top of the chain had reached the cave, but then, we'd go on climbing up, and ealize it was a false cry. After sometime we heard one of th guys' (the most kiddish among the lot) holler oh happiness. It was evident that the front batch had reached the cave and safety. But the huge yell had distracted us, bringing up the end. We tried to focus on getting thru the final 10 minutes of battling with the rain, wind, waterfall and cold and finally reached around a bend in a stone wall to the cave.

After all of us chnged into dry but not warm clothes we devoured into the food we had brought and then spread out (if its possible) on an area of 6x6. Eleven of us. Huddled together coz of lack of space and want of warmth. A few of us dint sleep the night thru, coz of the cramped space, cold and the pure fright of it all. Most of us were just sleeping fitfully meaning for half an hour after every one hour just to kill time till the morning. all thu this, it had been storming outside the cave like crazy. Pounding rain, mad winds which bounced back on the wall of cave and came back to throw us out of it and freezing cold.

Come morning, we decided to go out and finally enjoy the view. But looking out of the cave, there was nothingness. We knew were at a height of 2722 metres but around us, below us we could see nothing but dense whiteness. I dont understand what rule of nature this was, but in the night all we could see was dense blackness and in the morning all e could see was dense whiteness. like we were between a cloud.
after eating some purfunctonary breakfast, a few girls decided to get out and go to the cave across the waterfall which doubled as a loo. On the way back, the wind almost blew the girls away, one of the guys had to go fetch them.

We finally packed up and left the cave. Our prof had decided that since it was too risky to go back down in these freak rains, we would take the easier route to a village near-by (2 hours walk). We were guided by a group of four guys who had just come from that path on a picnic. (The village path was supposedly that easy)

We made our way up the last of the waterfall and through a tunneling pass called Kalyan pass which was the toll way in ancient times and reached a serene, extremely windy, time-forgotten plateau which just kept rolling on in greens. Occasionally we crossed a bridge with murky brown water gurgling below. This seemed almost impossible. How could the top of that horrific cave and its valley be so beautiful, fascinatingly mesmerizing. We walked along, and reached this fork where one path led to the village and another to the main road. Taking a risk we all thought that the main road was a better option coz we could flag down any bus which came that way and would take us even remotely close to Mumbai. Plus, some villagers we met on the way said that most roofs in thier village had blown away with the storm last night. When we reached the road one more hour later, we were pointed to an old woman's hut to rest till the bus came along.

The road leading to the wind-blown and storm-ravaged village taken from the hut we were in.

We heated ourselves, heated our food, rested our backs, discussed a lot of useless and meaningful things and finally spotted a 9 seater jeep. Eleven of us piled in, with another 3 people and picked up 4 more people on the way. Dont forget elevn 10 kg+ haversacks too.

The jeep dropped us at Junnar. Fromt here we climbed into the first ST we spotted. Luckily for us, it was on its way to Kurla, Mumbai via Khandala, Lonvala, Karjat and god knows what more. Before we boarded the bus, our prof managed to snag some newspapers from somewhere. They were the Pune editions and had pictures of the havoc created by the storm. Pune was under water, so were most villages this side of Jivdhan which is the offical name of Naneghat. We had actually been thru a test of survival and death.

By the time we reached Lonavala, we were famished. At the ST stop we devoured whatever food we could buy, realized that we finally had network after 2 days of mobile-lessness and network-lessness and thanked our stars that we were on our way to Mumbai.

Instead of reaching home by early evening, I reached home at 11. But the trek brought all of us trekkers a lot closer to each other. We made pacts to be present in every trek now on. And broke a lot of prejudices we had built in our heads. Couldn't have had more fun playing with our lives. I'm sure.


Aniruddha said...

wow .. that is quite an experience !

Anonymous said...

J- Hey u never told me abt ut trip! Whoa seems one an experience to remm.....