This was a trek i shouldn’t have gone to(better not to delve into the reasons.)
But somewhere something in the mind snapped and I decided to join my parents on their trip to Siddhagad and Gorakshagad.Truth be said,i hadn’t had a real trek for quite some time(Does Lohagad count as a “trek”??!) and even though my fascination for treks has steadily been getting replaced by my fascination for rock climbing,my “inner” mind said i should go and off i went.
As has often been the case,I trek around Pune with Serac Club-a group led and organised by Mr.Suresh Polekar,who happens to be a hard-core mountain lover and who organises sahyadri and Himalayan treks;sometimes for himself and sometimes,when his friends want go to a certain remote place and need him as their leader.19 people crammed up in tempo traveller(ain’t there something familiar in this line 😀 ),we left Pune around midnight of 3rd December.Between trying to get as comfortable as possible(which was not much 😀 and im not complaining here..just stating a fact..),stretching legs in non existent places and supporting necks on half existent chair backs,we reached Siddhawadi village in Murbad Taluka of Thane District around 4 am.The last leg of this journey was off the main route and passed through thick vegetation on both the sides of the narrow road.We in fact,did not reach Siddhawadi to start with.We directly hit a point where the road ended abruptly at the base of Siddhagad-hill fort we were going to climb the same day.
It was so windy we had a hrad time deciding whether it the water or the wind.
There was one ‘Kotwal memorial’,commemorating a local leader at the base here.A smooth and wide concrete platform with a tap at the side provided an excellent place to camp in before the sun rose.Withing 10 minutes,we had laid down our sleeping bags as mattresses and fast asleep.
It felt to good to touch one’s back to the flatness of the ground.I woke up a bit earlier than the rest so that i can take care of nature’s calls conveniently.
26th July,2010-I get a call from my trekker friend Drushti,asking me if I’d be able to join her team to participate in the night adventure race called Enduro3(O3 for ozone).I think for a while,refuse the offer thinking that i have become a fat pig in the last two months,not having stepped on the tread mill for that duration.But the offer is tempting and I finally relent.The next day,forms are filled out,fees paid and we part after making plans for the D-day.
I jog 2km the next evening,to test my stamina.Its not as bad as I had thought,i say to myself,at the end of it.I promise myself that i’ll run more the next day since i still have some time to prepare myself.Drushti and Jyoti(3rd team member,.in fact,the team leader) have meanwhile,gone for checking out the route .I cant join them due to my college schedules.
I fail to fulfill my promise,and report at the racing venue on 30th july,with my team-mates,at 5.30pm.I have spent that day organising an ACM event in the college with my friends.So when i finally manage to extricate myself from the still undecided details of the event,its already 4.15pm and i am yet to have had my lunch.I decide to have it on the way to katraj and rush to the bus stop,where my comrades are waiting for me.
It was June 20th,2010 and after ten grueling sessions(okay,may be nine) in a crash course for my GRE preparations,it was only fair that i get a treat of the mountains in this year’s monsoons.
I had been reserving my enthusiasm and more importantly,days ,for the hike to fort Tikona.But by the first week of June,rains had begun their earth bound journey in Pune and it had started becoming difficult to just watch them from inside the room.
So when i came to know about the Lohagad hike,i jumped onto the chance..not minding the fact that i’d be going with a group of around 65 people..i prefer smaller closed knit groups..but what the hell,i might as well try going out with this trekking group called Yuvashakti about which i had heard a lot from my friends.
Taking the 6.30 a.m train from Shivajinagar,we alighted at Malavali(base village for the hike i.e.roadhead) railway station,one stop short of Lonavala, at 7.30..The plan was to have a quick(which it wasn’t) breakfast and then visit Bhaje caves.The caves are a very short walk away from Malavali..may just about 15-20mins..
(Some of the text below was scribbled during the climb and some later..so the tense in which it is now apparent can be a little shaky at times..i have again referred to people by their initials..S sir is Sachin Gaikwad,s sir is Sagar sir,Mr.P is Pawar sir and Mr.R is Saste sir.. )Click on the pictures to enlarge them..
22nd jan 2010,Day 1:So after almost 5 years after the rock climbing bug bit me and i started ogling at the pictures of the gear clad climber hanging onto those impossible overhangs,I am all set for my first ever technical climb.
I’ll be climbing a pinnacle called ‘Lingana’ which stands beside Raigad.
Its quite a popular climb among hard core sahyadri trekkers.The climb doesnt involve many rock pathces.Its mostly scree and loose rock.You can get the idea about its gradient from the photo(in the end).
There are 5 of us(including the cook) from Pune who are going a day ahead as the ‘technical team’.Day after tomorrow,a group of 9 other hikers will join us.So our task is to set the fixed ropes for them in order to ensure a safe climb up.
At the moment we are waiting for our ration,stoves and suchlike to reach the departure point..tying the loose ends kind of..
9 p.m:The wagonR has arrived and the luggage space is loaded with ropes,rucksacks and ration boxes.In the front seat,i have made myself comfortable between a stove kit and 2 more bags..I have no idea how the 3 people in the back are faring..mostly because i cant see their faces hidden behind even more luggage stuffed in the car..this is definitely not going to be an Alpine style climb!
12.30 in the night:After getting lost for a while,finally reached the road head(base village) Varoti.Our other two members from Baramati had already made the village school their home.In no time,all of us were inside our sleeping bags and snoring away(the men that is..not me for sure! )..had a sound sleep for 5 hrs..
(1.I have not bothered with the proper formatting of text and pictures..so please dont mind..2.people have been referred to by their initials..)
Day 1,25th Dec 09:So after an eventful night journey in a tempo traveller,which involved our ride getting late by 3 hours and an exhausted driver who had to wake himself up occasionally ,we were ready to set our foot on the AMK(Alang-Madan-Kulang)terrain.
Road head was a village named Ambevadi(Igatpuri,Nashik).The location is directly amidst the mountains.You step out of the vehicle and are immediately surrounded by that typical Sahyadri vista-High,rocky cliffs and outcrops interspersed with yellow dried grasses of the winter.
It seems like most of my weekends are meant to be spent in the hills and the mountains of Sahyadri(Updates of the trek previous to this one will come up after this post)..
So when i got a call from one of my trekker acquaintances(Suresh kaka),asking me if I would want to join his group for a day’s hike to Rajgad fort,it took me only 3 seconds to think before replying in the affirmative..
The next morning,I was up and about by 5.30 a.m. and our mini-bus started its journey at around half past 6..
i entered the bus,looking for a couple of familiar faces whom i had met on my previous hikes ..looking for them,I reached the rear seats and since the faces were still amiss,finally took the last window seat..
After settling in my seat,I noticed the folks around me..It seemed like an assorted set of 16-17 people..4 school going kids in the front seats,around 8-9 20 somethings(who,as i learned a while later, were working for the teach for india initiative) and the rest of the group real adults(?!)(i.e.age between 35-43 odd)..I was pleasantly surprised to find an 80 year old ajoba(grandfather) in the group too..
i didn’t know anybody except Suresh kaka..Just as I was wondering whether these guys would find me nice/friendly enough or whether i would find them likewise,The landscape outside the window began changing..
It was 6.30 in the morning and the fog was quite thick by general standards..It seemed like a misty morning when the bus took a stop to fill in fuel..
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.