Trek from Katraj to Sinhagad – Sept 2008

With my strong feelings(refer my previous post) about adventure races,I was all set to participate in ‘Enduro’-the famous adventure race in Pune.But some things I hadn’t anticipated came along and I couldn’t participate.
It was going to be my first race of this kind and I had looked forward to it for a long time.So I was really disappointed for not being able to take part in it.The route for the race starts from katraj and ends at Sinhagad.Its supposed to be a very long,hard trek,19km long and involves negotiating 14 hills.
A few days ago, Uncle Sood(there’s a funny story of how he got this particular name),who was the leader of one of my Himalayan treks and who has since then assumed the role of sort of a mentor with regards to my mountaineering and climbing aspirations,called up to ask me if I’d want to go for the trek from katraj to sinhagad the next day.My answer was a quick yes.

So,the next day,a Sunday,I woke up at 5.00a.m.As I took my bike out of the parking space,the security guard gave me an angry look for making him wake up and open the gates of the building so early in the morning.I ignored the frowning face and sped up on the road to reach the Swargate bus depot in time to catch an early bus to katraj with Uncle Sood.But hey,this is PMT (Pune Municipal Transport)I am talking about.We parked the bike at the depot and waited for the bus to arrive for almost 45 minutes.Finally,the bus came along and at 7.30,we alighted in the katraj ghat.
We checked our trekking gear,food(eggs,marsbars,dry fruits,potatoes),water(3 litres in all),ORS and started the trek at 7.48a.m..A hundred yellowish orange flowers had blossomed at this starting point of the trek.i found myself taking my backpack down for the camera.But then I remembered that we had set for ourselves, a taget of finishing the trek in the shortest possible time.So I put the camera inside the bag and embarked on the journey ahead.Walk for the initial 20 minutes was pretty fast.But the route was kind of steep here.We had to to rest for a minute or two at the top of the first hillock that we climbed.
From here onwards,my body warmed up and I found my breathing rhythm.The trick was to keep on changing the gears according to the ground below.1st or 2nd gear while climbing up slopes and higher gears while walking on the plateau.The weather was great.The sky was a clear blue and the soft sunrays of the morning felt good on the skin.The breeze was cool enough to prevent sweating and faint enough not to ruffle up the hair(I had forgotten to bring my cap). The route was steepening upwards gently.On one side,I could see the Expressway to Mumbai and on the other side,highway to Bangalore.The view was great.The grey shade of the roads looked perfect against the light green color of the mountain range surrounding us.
Its difficult to get lost on this route.There’s a trail made out almost for the entire length of the trek and we just had to follow it.Also,Sinhagad is always visible except for a little while when its view gets hidden behind the domes of the hills immediately ahead of you.So it doesn’t take much effort to navigate.
The first 2 hrs of the trek consisted of climbing up a hillock from one face,getting down it from the opposite face,walking on the plateau connecting that hillock to the next one,again climbing up n down n so on..As the rains are almost over,the route wasn’t much slippery though this fact couldn’t avoid some minor slips and falls of mine.We had settled into a pace.For some time,we encountered these really tall grasses along the path.One could easily hide in those grasses and not be found out quickly.They were so dense that they made watching the ground between our feet difficult.I couldn’t feel the earth beneath my feet and therefore,fell in a shallow depression.but the same grass provided a good cushion .It was fun.For a while,the grasses towered over me and Uncle Sood and we were unable to see each other’s progress through gave me a kind of spooky feeling.The thought that it was also a safe place for hiding in case there were any rouges on the route,also crossed my mind.I was also uneasily aware of the fact that poisonous snakes are found in this area and such grasses can be a natural habitat for them.But we came out of the grasses and on top of a hill pretty soon.
From here,we could see the trail we had come by till that time.We had covered a really large distance.We could also see Sinhagad in the opposite direction.I took a couple of photographs here(below),energized my body with sips of water added with glucose powder,rested for 5 minutes and started walking again.

The sun had risen by this time and the sunlight was starting to feel harsh on the neck and thescalp.Also,I was tired a bit with the efforts of the past 2 hrs.That slowed us down a little.But we continued without taking frequent breaks.
We went on like that for 1 more hour.Enroute,we met two cellphone bearing shepherds.We talked to them ,confirmed that the path we had taken was right and continued ahead..We had reached near the finish of the trek.But there was a last hill still to be climbed.
After the fast paced trek till that point,I was quite tired and the climb up the hill seemed formidable.So I decided to rest myself well before starting off again.I rehydrated myself,finished off the lunch consisting of boiled eggs and marsbars and retied my shoelaces.Now,I was ready(as if I was about to step in the middle of some battle)!
We started climbing up.This segment of the trek was really exhausting. I had to stop often. After about 25 minutes,we were on the top.How glad I was to see that from here onwards, everything to the finishing point of the trek was downward.There were no more slopes to be climbed up.A valley across us,Sinhagad was looking majestic . We could see the ridge connecting it to the Potato Point(So called because of the shape of the crest of this mountain).The vista was beautiful and extensive.
After about 20 minutes of careful scrambling downhill ,we were in a garden(I think it was named ‘Salai Udyan’,but I am not sure),somewhere half way(or a little less than that) down Sinhagad.We rested for another 15 minutes here.There was a pagoda in this garden and huge clusters of orange and purple colored flowers had blossomed at the backside of the pagoda.the photographer inside me delighted.I set my camera for the perfect possible lighting and clicked some snaps.

Another 15 minutes of trek and we found ourselves at the base of Sinhagad.We had reached the finish point.I checked my watch hastily.We had completed the trek in 4 and a half hours!not bad!!Indeed,we had been very fast!I congratulated myself and entered a small restaurant. Here we spent half an hour ,drinking Fanta and soothing and massaging our aching toes and calves. Then the bus arrived and took us back to Pune.
All in all,it was a really nice experience.The route was very scenic .The satisfaction that I felt after the whole tiring process was great.I now plan to do this trek again.But this time,with college friends,without having to worry about the ticking of the stopwatch,clicking away at flowers and landscapes,and stopping time and again to look at the birds and vividly colored butterflies!!
Link to the photo album:


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