Trek to Kudremukh Peak (May 19-20, 2007) - Part 3

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Climb, ahoy!
Beyond the house, one can see a path going up a small hill. To reach the hill, we again had to make our own path in tall grass. As we start to climb the small hill, we realize its not small after all. In fact, during the whole trek, this part is the steepest climb and feels more so because one is taken totally unawares. On the way up, we saw many black-shouldered kites soaring in the wind and keeping close to the slopes to hunt for snakes and rodents. But they were too far away to get any decent pictures. (Yes, I was carrying my 400mm DO on this trek - one main advantage of having this lens!) At the top of this hill, there is a flat place with a lone tree aptly named onti mara. This is a Jamun tree and had plenty of fruits which the guys didn't miss harvesting. The trek further is characterized by gentle walks along the hillside interspersed with two extra-long shola stretches. In aftermath of rains, walking inside these shola stretches can be a walk through hell thanks to the millions of writhing blood-sucking leeches that infest these forests. During our last trek, we had to pluck our atleast 5-10 leeches each even after running non-stop through the shola. But this time no such horrors and we enjoyed a leisurely walk in them. We even tried to refill our water bottles with the meagre flow of water in the streams but found it non-potable.
(pic: collecting Jamun fruits from the ground at the ontimara)


To the top
After the second shola, we come across a waterfall where we relaxed and refilled our bottles. Especially in the months from April to early June, one is advised to carry enough water (3-4 lts per person) or carry water purifying tablets. The water flow is thin and may contains larvae and other particulates which could be bad for your tummy and health in general. We spotted a juvenile snake (pit viper?) hiding in a crevice in a tree. Did not disturb it much, except to take a couple of pictures, lest there were more around. The path from there is a long zig zag one where we walk in the direction away from the peak for a long while. There are plenty of large sized flies (no idea about the ID but they were 0.5-1 inche sized) which are found on the grass in the dry season. Look out for them for their bites are very painful. The bites don't seem to cause any rash though. Insect repellents in the form of skin applicants may help. There is an old dilapidated church which was built by the british. With a waterfall between us and the church, we did not want to take a detour to visit the church. At his point, a "hairpin" curve and we are walking towards the peak again. We walk alongside dense evergreen forest on top of the mountain. The path to the peak keeps steadily climbing. There is even a lake and a broken-down guest house from the British era beside the lake. Finally we reached the peak at about 2. The face gives you spectacular view down provided the mist clears. This happens rarely though. On the top of the peak there is a board pointing north saying "Kudremukh peak 1km" and perhaps is correct because further north there is another peak which is higher. But I have read somewhere that it is another peak which at 1892m is the actual second highest peak of Karnataka. The kudremukh peak on which we were standing is at around 1872m.
(pic1: the juvenile snake, pic2: dense forest alongside our path almost near the peak.)


Back to the base

After spending almost an hour at the peak during which the mist never cleared completely, we decided to trek down. It was around 3pm. Climbing down is easy especially when it is dry and hasn't rained for some days. In the last trek, the rains had made the path very slippery and every step a dicey proposition. We still had to contend with tiredness and dehydration since the humidity was fairly high and potable water availability fairly low. We reached Mullodi exactly at the stroke of 6. Some of the guys who had reached early had already hit the waterfalls again. They had also arranged through telephone for a jeep to come from Samse to pick us up. Thanking our hosts (and paying them a very nominal charge for hosting us) we left in the Jeep (all 10 of us with the jeep driver and our vehicle driver who wanted to 'just have a look' crammed in it). He dropped us in Basrikal Gate for 350 rupees. We had dinner (delicious dosas and rice) at the hotel there and left for Bangalore.
(pic: view from near the church. Somewhere at the end of the valley lies Samse, visible on a more clear day.)



Note:

  • Karnataka wilderness tourism website has detailed information on trekking routes within KNP. http://www.karnatakawildernesstourism.org/Trekking_opp_in/Kudremukh.htm
  • Naxal activities have put a question mark on nature lovers' visits to the KNP. But as per the information I could gather, their activities are more concentrated in the Kerekatte range and in and around Sringeri. After speaking to the locals, my understanding is that their focus is the establishment (read forest dept, KIOCL and the police) and would not harm nature lovers. But do get a clear picture of the state of affairs at the time of your visit before going ahead.
  • Please do not have create any naked flame while trekking inside the forests, especially during summer months as the grass is dry and ripe for forest fires.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking during treks.
  • Except for 2-3 dry months, this region is relatively wet. So if you are trekking, be aware that the leeches are almost everywhere in the trekking path.
  • In my opinion wearing rugged all-weather sandals are a better option and extremely convenient than shoes for trekking. Plucking leeches out from the legs is easier that way. Also because of the number of streams in the path, removing and wearing the shoes everytime is irritating. For the leeches, you can make a loose fitting canvas bag that serves as socks. Other remedies like salt and tobacco are more curative than preventive measures.
  • The family of Sathisha are very non-intrusive yet friendly people. It is a pleasant non-commercial homestay option from where trek to the peak is just a days trek. Facilities are pretty basic but more than adequate given the settings. You can talk to him before reaching the place on 082632-49595. Please treat them well and give them no reason to complain however because other trekkers need to use their facilities in future.



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1 comments:

Krishna Jyoti 1:02 AM, April 08, 2008  

Hi, Just been retured to bangalore after doing this trekking. Your blog was bit helpful but we did the hardest part. We started from Navoor and on heavens name this is the hardest route to trek.

So real trekkers please take the route from Navoor as this route will give you the chance to meet the wildlife better and also it is more tougher terrains.

you can contact me on 9880073702

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