Long long ago, once upon a time, Myself and my very dear friend decided to join a trekking club and go for treks. We decided to go to Nagalapuram, a hill range bordering Andhra and Tamilnadu. It was a two days trek, which went a “do or die” situation. Though most of us had cameras with us, no one were in a mood to click photos. The Trek Lead- Mr.Peter Vangeit, a Belgian by birth and an Indian by his acts wrote the below article. This trek turned to be one of the major turning points in my life. I love this write up and wish to keep with me till I die.
Date: 27-Sep-2008, Saturday
As promised, Nagala/4 would be an interesting one, better then all previous
Nagala’s put together.
32 CTC trekkers started off along the main stream, crystal clear water generously flowing in which we swam and from which drunk. The water was amazingly fresh and cool, a natural rejuvenating spa for the body and mind. The taste was enchanting. The stream was sprinkled with small and big boulders, bounded on both side with lush greenery and cut deep into the surrounding hills over thousands of years not seen yet by humankind before. Words can’t explain the experience of walking through this peaceful and serene terrain… (Simply can’t understand why most people spend their weekends in the concrete Chennai city jungle… you guys are missing out on life…) We met 3 major obstacles along the river – deep water pools surrounding by steep vertical rocks – the first and third we conquered by
swimming through with the help of a long rope. The second one we circumvented by climbing over it. We took a dip in several smaller pools along the trail.
Towards the late afternoon we reached a split (named Nagala/6 and Nagala/7 respectively… 😉 in the stream – at both sides the water was falling down higher up past we could not immediately proceed. With another 1-2 hours before dark we decided to climb steep uphill on a surrounding mountain to set up our camp for the night. The climb was very steep and tricky, rocks falling down, people holding on to tree branches trying hard not to slip. We reached a fairly flap grassland sprinkled with small rocks where we put up the camp. After some theplas and cup noodles everyone fell deep asleep. An
exhaustive 12 hour trek from 7am till 7pm.
In the morning we climb further uphill and spotted the original Nagala/1
target – a 800+ meter high peak in the center of the Nagala mountain range
somewhat 3km away from our camp. Although water resources were limited and
several valleys separated us from the peak we decided to give it a shot. 16
brave members took off while the others took rest near the camp. The sun was
beating down hard on us, water was running low, the terrain of long grass
and rocks along the non-existing trail was though. We started around 7am and
followed several adjacent green slopes until we reached the base on the
target peak. From there we had a really though climb with no water left and
burning sun on top of us. Sweat was dripping, the legs were trembling,
throats were dry as sandpaper, spirits were low, people close to dehydration
and mental/physical exhaustion, we pushed on and finally reached the 820m
peak around 11am. The mind blowing views, the cool mountain breeze, the
feeling of accomplishment, the spirit of team work immediately made us
forget all the pain, sweat and thirst. The feeling was indescribable –
seeing the entire Nagala mountain range at our feet. We went through hell to
reach heaven. We discovered several new streams, a second entry point in the
Nagala range and a mysterious small hut in the middle of nowhere. We will
soon be back exploring new trails again…
Then came the descend, a steep, long trek back to the night camp, throats getting dryer and dryer, some people were close to passing out, sun relentlessly beating down on us, close to desperation, little shade along the path. We finally reached back to camp exhausted around 2pm and hope was low to exit the hills the same day. Meanwhile two brave souls had climbed down to the river and returned with several bottles of water (still not enough for so many thirsty people). Water never tasted this good! There was no way we would be able to make it back before midnight along the onward
trail – too many obstacles along the river. So we decided to take a new, unknown return trail straight over the hills, crossing several valleys in between. It was navigation using intuition, sense of direction and knowledge
of the terrain (after three earlier Nagala-s and studying Google topomaps) more than using the modern technology GPS. We started climbing down and up across several grassy/rocky slopes Southeast. We finally reached an upper
(dry) stream, found an entry point through dense bushes surrounding the stream and climbed along the stream sprinkled with big boulders downstream.
Everyone was extremely thirsty, visions blurring the mind, knees trembling under the weight of our backpacks, stomachs empty, body near exhaustion. When will we find water, will we get out before darkness, will we get lost in the jungle? We proceeded further downstream until we finally came across some stagnant, slightly dirty pools, some members unable to resist the thirst and drinking from the same. A little further we reached another dead-end (4th one this trek) – a steep 10 meter drop in the dry stream, impossible to scale. So we climbed up along the steep rocks bordering the stream and created a trail to circumvent the dead-end ending up at the
bottom of the steep drop. From there again we proceeded along the narrow stream, cut deeply inside the surround mountains, crossing several smaller pools until we finally met running, clear water allowing us to drench our relentless thirst. God heavenly! Water never tasted this good! Amazing feeling! At the same spot we hit another steep 15 meter fall in the river bed which prevented further progress.
Kannan/myself (ahead of the rest to find a trail home) climbed up along the
steep left side of the stream along a 85 degree vertical rock until we met
the grassy foothills of the surrounding mountains. Climbing back to the
stream seemed impossible as it was too deep cut inside the hills with
vertical walls on both sides and probably more steep drops along the stream
would prevent further progress. It was 5pm… the sun setting behind the
mountains already… Another 200m climb brought us at the top of a local
peak from which I could see that we were getting closer to the main stream
from which we started the previous day. I went ahead and climbed down on the
other side of the hill trying to find an access point to the main stream
avoiding patches of dense thorns and steep rocks which were impossible to
proceed over, the climb down was extremely steep. I finally reached the main
stream around 6pm, tracing the trail with the GPS so we could find it back
during darkness when the group would be ready for the descent.
After enjoying another 2l of cool Nagala mineral water and dumping my
backpack, I climbed up again along the steep slope I rejoined Kannan and the
f the group helping out those in the back. Everyone was happy to hear
that we would make it back home the same day instead of spending another
night trapped in the jungle. We regrouped at the top of the peak when the
night was falling and prepared for a slow, steep descend in the dark guided
by the GPS. Rocks were falling, feet were slipping, people were falling,
some were sliding down on their bumps, we finally made it down around 8pm.
Everyone enjoyed the cool, refreshing water after a 2 day ultimate
experience which stretched both body and mind beyond what most think was
possible. As usual we saw CTC team-work at its best, previous unknown
individuals helping each other overcome some of the toughest physical
obstacles they had ever faced in their lives, creating new life-long
friendships and memories. Thanks to all the great guys and gals with
amazing, selfless spirit who helped those in need, stretched out the helping
hand, shared that last drop of water and made this trek another successful
mission. I believe this is the essence of CTC. It took us another 2 hours to
reach back to the cars, dipping inside a big, cool pool along the way to
clear all the sweat of the past 2 days. Finally, I reached home at 5am this
morning after one of the best and toughest CTC treks so far. Never felt so
good and alive!
We will soon be visiting this trekkers paradise again. Stay tuned!
Just for this one trek, Peter, I will never forget you… You took care of us like a father does his children. Thank you Peter.