When the mighty mountains call! - Nagalapuram, 28th & 29th January, 2017

What could you do but answer when the mighty mountains call and that’s exactly what we did.

Despite all the last minute changes in plan, unavailability of vans/carpooling, delay in public transportation, overwhelming tiredness of waiting and walking on the never-ending road, we, at last, took shelter in the shadows of our healer of minds, Nagalapuram.

A comfortably compact crew of 15 entered through the West of Nagala seeking not just solace but to have some crazy adventure they could relish for years.

Crossing a few pools filled with ‘tourists’ we reached the deeper pools which refused to change but remained pristine even after two hours of diving and splashing. Never knew even experienced swimmers would be confounded when they try on goggles suddenly and reach out to grab the rocks which are not within their arm’s reach.

While the non-swimmers or not-sure swimmers (my category until this point) get dipped on the other side of the pool.

Summoning all the courage (and pleading the expert swimmers to be ready to rescue a poor soul) I did the first diving (yes, with the chest hitting the water flat) and came out the other side saving the trouble for rescuers. Jumping in pools whose depth is not known has a strange effect on you that you’ll want to repeat it to make sure the first time wasn’t just luck.

After a couple of hours of fish therapy and meditative floating we dried ourselves only to get wet again by the pouring rain. Taking cover under a makeshift shelter we waited for the rain to stop which seems to have no mind to do so. Finally, deciding to take our chances against the slippery rocks we venture into the wild, sliding, slipping and still moving on.

All the slips and burning bruises were forgotten when we halted under the snow-white falls that washed all the pain away. A million firm kisses all over the injured body and soul by them, the maiden drops. Sitting under the might of the crushing falls, sealing off the reality of the world, we meditate in peace amidst the turmoil.

In fear of rain and our night sleep’s ultimate ruin, we started the fire even before sun down though it took a good 30 minutes and the magical touch of Jack for the wet wood to catch fire and burn steadily.

The next day started off with a good, really good long walk for hours along dry streams, up the slopes with lose rocks and through the thorn bushes.

A good noon nap relaxed the tired feet before we started off again.

Reading the adventures of Frodo and the company of hobbits in the old forest while sitting in the middle of the forest makes you wish that the rest of your company keeps napping until you finish the whole of the first book of the Fellowship of the ring.

One by one they woke up and with a few more short halts and resting in between, we tramped on into the unknown, following trials and dry streams.

Happily, we finally halted near the ’Sliding Pool’.

Watching the expert swimmers sliding in the small falls and the hearing the sound of the splashes arouses a desire in you to try it too come what may.

And thus I overcame the fear of jumping from heights into the pools on unknown depth.
Overcoming the fear of heights and depth, I slid down the sliding pool and suddenly found myself surrounded by water from all sides. Unlike all other times, calmly I came to the top and slowly swam to the shore.

Would I, for life, forget the joy this simple feat gave me!

And to the ‘Magic pool’ we went to do a few more jumps from 10ft - 15ft.

Though Raj recommended a life jacket, wearing which I’d never have gotten over the fear of heights, I did a few (only two more, because we quickly packed up) jumps while others have already done more than 10.

Out, we came, after thoroughly enjoying all the craziness and walking quietly, relishing the new achievements unlocked.

Another wonderful trek came to an end with happy hearts and calm minds.

Thanks to Raj, Jack and the team for coming up with amazing options in a short time.

Nagala - The most generous host

If you don't lose and gain something, you've not lived the day even of an idle rock sitting at the bottom of a lake quietly gaining moss.

Only when you step outside your comfort zone will these changes be noticed.

A trek is where,

  • you lose your fear to step outside your comfort zone
  • you lose the mindset that your body could only take so much of pain
  • you lose faith in the popular propaganda that your bed is only comfy zone
  • you lose your shyness towards new people
  • you lose your timidity towards unknown routes where you can't find 'auto-drivers' to guide you
  • you lose your favourite track-pants and, um! also your dirty socks.

A trek is where,

  • your body surprises you by staying strong even after being torn by the guiltless wild thorns
  • you won't stop even when your knees scream in pain and heels are as squishy as bread
  • you don't know why you chose to wander in the wild while you could have finished another season of 'Sherlock'
  • you're one with your self and nature and roam around without worrying about how soiled your dress has got
  • you don't have to pretend to be happy but really be at ease with your own personality
  • you keep running and climbing for two days with a couple of apples and bits and pieces of burfee that gets passed around (the owner gets the first piece and the empty cover)
  • and as a bonus, you earn your medals of valour marked by your own pure blood (not you, muggle-born!) and ruptured skin.

Attempting to enter the jungle through one route or the other, we've tried about five entrances where we climbed a bit and climbed down to climb a different way only to get down again and Peter pretended to not know the one entrance he'd have already decided. I believe(d) he was only getting the first-timers warmed up.

And then the trek began officially with a slow and steady climb for a pretty view of the lake, dam and fields.

In search of the waterfalls we started walking, well, not walking per se but a good mix of hopping, jumping, sliding, falling and crawling.

This time, we were shown mercy as we were led along the stream where we could stop anywhere any time to fill our biological pot and not carry much water in bottles adding more load to the shoulders.

Searching for the falls we ventured, to find exactly that. A small, steady waterfall that washed away all our sweat and stains.

Emptying a few packets of bread, pickles (bread with pickles, yes, seriously), apples, oranges, dates. We(Sundhar) don't bother washing them even if they fall on the ground but just pick 'em, lick 'em and snuck 'em into our hungry mouth.

Off we went again towards the campsite.

Following a champion(Arun) who was lost twice(and found his way even in the dark) on this very route on our previous treks, we went ahead of the group, a little sure that third time is a charm and so was it. We (16 out of 33) reached the campsite just a little late after the sun went down and darkness started to blanket the path ahead.

Reaching the 'Picnic pool' we settled down along the flat surfaces beside the stream listening quietly to the not-so-complex symphony of nature, the gentle swoooshing and mild lapping of water throughout the night.

With no source of fire, a group set to put to test all that 'Bear Grylls' taught. From using stones, rubbing wooden sticks, igniting the dry leaves with a spark from a torch battery (yes, after sacrificing a torch light) but to no avail.

While others who were not so optimistic chose to have a few fruits and lie down to rest, though secretly wishing somehow the others succeed and we get to have some hot maggi before calling it a day.

Lying down in the dark and witness the magical fireflies blinking a little closer and little farther is one good therapy to make you forget the hardships of the day.

And as it got darker, slowly they gathered overhead, the shiny little stars, going over their daily duty of forming the constellations. One cannot but swoon at the pretty sight.

We woke up to find, at last, the lighter has come and we could get to cook our food before the rest of the team arrive, with whom we were not ready to share our Maggi then, as they'd have had (and only they did have) their portion the previous night.

Finishing off the 'Knor-soupy-top-ramen-Maggi-noodles' and having a few dips in the magic pool to unwind ourselves, we started off again to find our way out.

Failing to realize that Peter is noticing, we went up and down all smiling and still walking briskly because of the energy regained over the night.

Saying, "Everyone is still smiling? Well, CTC's reputation is at stake now!", he decided to show us what a 'MODERATE' trek really could and should be.

Down we started to climb. Only that, there wasn't aan actual trial here and we hear only Peter's voice from below, urging us to proceed down the same route.

More punctures and scratches whenever we fail to duck while crossing thorn climbers.

After an hour of halting and donating a drops after drops of blood to the thirsty thorns we reached the stream when he suggested (luckily, not seriously) if we would like to do one more trip up and down the same route.

Following the dry stream we found the water point where filled our bottles, had lunch and onwards we went.

Reaching the final waterfall we(mostly non-swimmers) formed a human chain to pass our bags to the other end of the hip-level-pool and the swimmers did their last dives before bidding a good bye to the most generous host, the NAGALA.