Thursday, March 05, 2009

Tadikalapudi Trek

I had bravely enrolled in this trek, thinking that it would be a breeze for my rather strong physique (yeah right, it's an oxymoron :) ). No sooner had I registered than I fell ill with just two weeks to go for the trek! Fear began to creep into me, and I wondered at one point whether to cancel the trek. Luckily, I recovered in time.


First came the preparation which in itself was tiring. I being a first-timer, had to purchase a host of stuff, including a backpack (a rather large one), cooling glasses, a sleeping mat, and a cap - all of which cost a cool 3k. And then came the heaviest of them all - water - 8 whole litres of it (for just two days!). When my bag was fully loaded (with 2 kgs of food), it became difficult to carry. I was wondering how far I could go with this before collapsing :).

We (14 of us) took Machilipatnam Exp from Secunderabad.


We reached Tadikalapudi at 4.15 in the morning. Having a penchant for frequent headaches, I emptied a litre of water early in the morning, hoping to keep one at bay that day. We started our walk from the station at dawn around 6 AM and kept walking through lovely cotton and paddy fields. Then I saw the ornage morning sun - something which I hadn't seen in a while :) . We walked around a couple of hills and approached a small hill. It looked puny to us, but no one had an idea of what it had in store for us. We met one of the villagers on a bullock cart (which was in itself a rare instance - the first and the last time we ever saw humans in the trek!) who suggested to us to take a path a little further away to cross the hill. We ignored his suggestion, and took the nearest 'route' right in front of us. By the time we reached the peak, my breath had become faster, and we all needed rest. So much for this 'tiny' hill!

Having climbed down this hill, which in itself was an ordeal with lots of thorns (my protruding sleeping , we then reached the plains and our walk became easier. We reached the base of a taller mountain around 8 and settled for breakfast near a stream. A hundred grams of corn flakes with soya milk was all we had for breakfast (Poor me...I was used to eating upma and pongal!).

Yours truly emerged stylish after breakfast with sunglasses and a cap :) . We then started our ascent through the pass between a couple of hills. Our mission was the head of the stream, where we were planning to cool off with a possible bath and a swim. The ascent was smooth at first, and then became rocky. Climbing became difficult, but I was able to manage rather well, usually among the first few in the group. We crisscrossed the stream, and the weather was also perfect during this time (still morning at around 10 AM).

Somehow, in the next half hour or so, we lost the stream, and the land became kindof barren, with just dry grass and fewer trees. Combined with the hotter sun (the season being almost summer), trekking became difficult with more dehydration. I started sweating more, and consuming much more water.

A word has to be said about our leaders. None in the group had any idea where we were going, and simply followed Ravi and Raghu. Both these guys knew this place (this was their third trip here) and often asked the group to rest while they ventured out in the sun to explore routes when they were not sure of the path to take. And yet, they continued to climb with ease! Where did these guys get their stamina from???

The group as a whole started taking more frequent breaks till lunch. Then came the search for a lunch point. We couldn't find a single area with a shade for around half an hour. Then came two smaller such areas, where we split in two and accommodated ourselves. Five chapathis with rajma and channa masala was our lunch. We stayed there for an hour and half (a few even slept).

Thinking we would all be energized post lunch, we resumed our trek - only to rest in another ten minutes :) . We had reached the peak of a 400m high hill and agreed to find the nearest decent plain area to retire for the night. Ten minutes later we found a good spot; but Ravi was still reluctant. "Our original resting point is atop that peak", and he pointed to the top of a adjacent hill 600m tall ("peak 2075" - which measured 2075 feet)! To reach there, we had to descend the peak we were on and ascend the other one.

"Come on guys, it's just 1 km!" Yeah.. if we jump down straight, break our heads and then climb up straight! Otherwise, easily more than 2-3 kms, if we were to properly get down and then up. The group managed to convince Ravi to calm himself down and rest for the night :) . We then prepared the spot - flattened the grass, spread out our sleeping mats atop plastic sheets, and prepared a fire for dinner after collecting dried wood, and removing all the grass off a 2m wide circle. (The last thing we wanted in that scorching heat was a forest fire that we triggered). That was when my headache which started around noon worsened, and I took a tablet and slept soundly for an hour or so. I appeared in such a poor shape to quite a few people that they thought I was dead :)

After sunset, we began our dinner prep - a pack of noodles each for most people on a kadai. We noticed a couple of forest fires - one, on peak 2075, was composed of two magnificently bright lines tapering towards each other, and the other on our peak (the fire itself was not visible, but the fumes were). This was what really scared us - we did not know if and when this fire would hit us, and were told to pack up our stuff and be ready to start descending if we actually saw the fire. However, I and most others slept rather soundly, believing that it wouldn't hit us. Karthik later revealed that he was so afraid (he even woke me up a couple of times), that he didn't sleep well, what with both his legs bent (fearing a snake bite :) ).


Sure enough, as the night got cold, the forest fires disappeared - and when we awoke the next day at 5 AM, they were no longer there. We started our descent at 530 AM - the descent was tougher than the ascent since we usually do not use our hands during descent for grip (we would be on all fours throughout the descent if we did :) ) and had to rely on trees, and consequently I fell down twice. Thankfully we reached the base by 730 AM well before the shadows left. We moved on near the breakfast point, and after freshening up, walked towards the station. We were there by 11 AM and took a passenger train to Bhadrachalam by 12. We were there at Bhadrachalam Road by 1230 AM, and took a dorm. Most of us were truly relieved to see a town with facilities that we usually take for granted :) . After a good lunch, most of us went to the Ram temple there (35 kms away from the station) while Karthik, Venkat and myself stayed behind (Karthik had a swollen knee, thanks to his bent leg the previous night :). I had been to Bhadrachalam the week before and had visited the temple, and Venkat was not interested). After idling around for the rest of the day, we had dinner and boarded the train to Secunderabad.

Overall, it was a fun trip and I'm looking forward to the next one!


vignesh said...

Don't worry
You will get an 'S' if akila evaluates this paper.

Vikas said...


Question: Can you please provide the details of the registration process along with the permissions required, if any?



Krishnan said...

@Vikas: You may join the group deccantrekkers [AT] googlegroups [DOT] com - I don't think there are any restrictions for joining. You would then get intimations regarding any treks organized.