A blog after a long time. Finally accomplished one of the trips that remained hidden in the convolutions for a long time. And we accomplished it on Oct 15, 2011. A quick plan and fast action saw us boarding the Kannur Express on the weekend. With tents and sleeping bags, packets of bread we were all set to conquer the highest peak in South India, KumaraParvatha. The route we chose was from Kukke Subramanya to KumaraParvatha. Looks like there is a also a different route via somwarpet and is a bit easy to trek. Few people start from somwarpet reach kumaraparvatha and camp there, and then start to kukke on the next day, essentially covering both the routes. But we started from Kukke, since it looked like the most beaten track with very little opportunity to get lost.
6.00AM to 10.00AM - Preparing for the trek - Woke up at 5.00AM to see the train cutting through the western ghats in full moon light, with the valleys resembling a sea of clouds. Beautiful sight indeed. Reached "Subrahmanya road (SBHR)" railway station, wasted no time in hiring a taxi and soon we were in Kukke. And this place was busy, and finding a lodge to just take bath and get ready turned out to be a tough task. Finally had to settle down for a home stay. Spend some time getting ready, finished breakfast and then it was only after 10.00AM we started the trek.
10.00AM to 2.00PM - Trek through the rain forest - A right turn just before the temple takes us to the tar road that leads us to the trekking path. Spent a little time equipping ourselves against the leeches which seemed to be in abundance. The real trek started with a steep climb in a rain forest. It was fun trekking in the rain forest. Since it was just after monsoon, could see the bark of tree covered in green by algae or whatever it is. The difficult part was climbing. Though the hunter shoes bought from Russel market, Bangalore broke the leech attacks, it started causing more damages than the leeches. I slowed down a bit. After around three hours of trek in the forest, we reach the grass lands. A beautiful place offering too many scenic views, but the time was wrong. We entered the grasslands after 1.00PM and it was terribly hot. It makes sense to start the trek early and cross this grassland well before afternoon. At 1PM walking in the scorching sun was nowhere near enjoyment.
2.00PM to 5.30PM - Bhattar's Mane to Mantapa - To our relief reached Bhattar's Mane and it was time for some rest. Didn't have food since we wanted to reduce the weight on our bags. The trek started after a short lunch. Few 100 metres from Bhattar Mane, is the forest checkpost where we have to pay the entry fee. Looks like the entry fee has been increased to 200 per head. We continued our trek through the grasslands with the highest peak at distance in sight. Few people returning, warned us the KumaraParvatha/Pushpagiri is not the one that is visible but will have to trek beyond that. Also the peak that is visible is not as easy as it appears. We crossed peak after peaks, the highest visible peak looked near but there were still few small peaks to cross. As it approached dusk, the clouds started settling, and it was awesome, for we were walking above the clouds on the lush green grasslands. The trek was fun. I loved this part with the mists brushing our face, green grasslands all around and clouds beneath us. We were at the pint which was visible from the Kukke temple. Beyond this, we could see a rocky mountain, which needs to be crossed to reach Pushpagiri.
6.00PM - 7.30PM - Lost in the forest and crawl in the dark t highest point in South India - Think we relaxed a little too much. The HP gang took the lead with the task of setting up the tents in the next flat land. We continued after a short rest engulfed in mist, the HP gang was nowhere in sight. Rakesh, Chandra and myself, walked slowly. It was alalmost dark and interestingly there was a small forest in front of us. Time for fun!!!! Trekking in forest in dark would be foolish, staying there with just sleeping bags would be equally foolish too, since the tents were with HP gang. Used our intelligence to choose a less foolish decision and entered the forest. Had also read in a blog that to reach pushpagiri, you need to cross a forest and climb a small slippery hillock, so was a little sure that we are on the right track. The forest was pitch dark, fortunately had few torches. The torch showed us the way, but at no point we were sure whether that was the only way.
Aim was not to panic. Imagine a thick rain forest, full darkness, no people around and occasional sounds of rustling leaves, howling wind, remote sound of water. Believe me, it did cause a little fear. But we marched on, and a little later we were welcomed by remote shouts from our friends. Sai was shouting my name on top of his voice. Poor fellow, he looked a little frightened. I did relish the fact we had just had a night trek in a rain forest. Dont think i would get a chance to do it in future. This was followed by a steep ascent on the slippery hill, where a small stream down. With just few torches and no clear way, we crawled to the top. We had reached the second highest point in Karnataka.
Wasted, no time in setting up the tents. Generous Rakesh had donated a few units of blood to leeches. Everyone was too tired to check anything, and dozed off asap.
3.00AM to 7.30AM - Sunrise - Woke up at 3.00AM the next day. Mohan from HP was hungry and his noise had woken up half of the group. With not much left to do, laid idle till 4.00AM and then ventured out after that. It was bright outside due to the moonlight and spent a little time outside enjoying the chillness of western ghats, waiting for the sunshine. The expectation was that sun would rise majestically above a sea of clouds. What we got was disappointment, as Sun decided to play hide and seek with the help of mist & fog. Not a great sight after a strenuous 14KM trek.
7.30AM to 12.30PM - Pushpagiri to Bhattar's Mane - Started the trek back at 7.30AM. Soon we saw the path we had trekked/crawled in the dark. At times ignorance is bliss. We had climbed a narrow, slippery hill where miscalculated step could have taken us direct to heavens. The rain forest was thick, it is still surprising to see that we had crossed it in pitch dark. Anyway the initial trek was fast and with occasional pit stops, reached Bhattar's Mane a little faster. Had a sumptuous lunch which i finished with six cups of buttermilk and started the trek back through rain forest.
1.30PM to 4.30PM - In Rainy rain forest - The hunter shoe i bought for trekking and preventing leeches was causing more damage than the leeches. Had to slow down and i had Rakesh for company. We walked slowly through the last 2KM in the rain forest. Every step ached at 6 or 7 points in each feet. Woodlands would have done a better job. I walked like a tortoise. How a trek in rain forest would be in heavy rain ? We were shown that as the heavens opened up. Yet another amazing experience!!!! It was surprising to see that it took around 15 minutes after start of rain for the few drops to reach us. The trees leaves were acting like umbrella till then. We continued walking slowly through the rain forest enjoying the rain. It was yet another wonderful experience.
End of 28KM trek - Soon the rain stopped, and we had also reached the end. Our gang was waiting for us. Looks like they reached around an hour before us. Anyway, we had completed the 28KM trek, trek to the highest point in South India successfully. What about leech attack ? Fortunately i didn't suffer any during the trek, but at the end of the trek, discovered a leech sucking blood near my ears. I hate leeches. Checked into a hotel and had plans of visiting the river for a cool bath. But rains forced us for a rest which we did with full acceptance.
KumaraParvatha turned out to be most satisfactory, interesting and adventurous trek. The gang as usual was rocking!!!! The gang - Rakesh, Chandra from my company. Sai, Mohan, Anoop & Mahesh Kinni from HP.
Photos at - https://picasaweb.google.com/sskganesan/KumaraParvatha.