This blog is turning out to be a travelogue. Will have to change it. With New Year close on the heels, think will add it to the empty list of New Year resolutions, though what happens to
Anyway this trip was the third attempt to complete full length of the jinxed Mullayanagiri - Kemmangundi trek. Having balked at previous attempts, Attempt #1 and Attempt #2 due to various reasons, was excited about this trek. Dec 14 was fixed as the date for the quest. The plan died in few days when people in trekking gang were unable to join due to different reason and got a life when Rakesh Balakrishnan kindled the thought, why not just the two of us with just two days to go for the weekend. It was a great idea, but just two of us trekking in reserved forest and camping nowhere near civilization did send shivers down the spine. Though we were excited and enthusiastic, the real test would be when we start walking. The plan looked exciting, achievable and foolish as well. The hopes died, when BMC from where we usually rent our tents said tents were not available during that weekend. But we did managed to arrange from Mars Adventures. We purchased sleeping bags from Decathlon, since it looked a better option than renting them for every trip. Bus tickets to chickmagalur were never a problem, and soon we saw ourselves packing.
Day 1 - Saturday - Dec 14, 2013
Reached chickmagalur at around 5.00AM, checked into a hotel and got ready for the trip at 8.00AM. Made sure to open the tent and pack it in our bags. Carrying tent in hand is laborious and makes the ascent difficult. There is a single bus service from chickmagalur to Sarpadhari, the trek starting point. Bus name is S.M.S but they start at their own sweet time when they feel it is crowded enough. So if you want to start the trek early, better to choose cab/auto. We went in an auto who charged Rs. 250. The trek from Sarpadhari to Bababudangiri/Galikere can be split into four parts
1) The climb from Sarpadhari to Mullayanagiri Peak.
2) Mullayanagiri to Attigundi checkpost.
3) Checkpost - BSNL tower via that knife edge that is exactly opposite to the checkpost.
4) BSNL tower - Bababudangiri/Galikere.
Our aim was to camp at Galikere and trek to Kemmangundi the next day. Knew at every part, it will be a race against time. Started the trek at 9.15Am. It was a quick climb (by our standards) to the peak and we reached the peak before 11.00AM. Mullayanagiri was awesome as usual. A little misty even after monsoon. The grasses were slowly drying after the monsoon but was green enough to make a grand sight. We spent a little time at the peak and started for part 2 of the trek. Finding the path to attigundi post from mullayangiri peak was tough. But from the previous attempt i knew it existed somewhere behind the temple. So after a little search were able to locate it. Once we find the path, the walk to Attigundi checkpost is easy, so we did it without taking many breaks. Had a quick lunch @ Attigundi checkpost. Everything was going according to plan :) Or looked like.
The twist waited when we were about to start the third part of the trek. It was Dattareya Jeyanthi on Dec 15, 2013 and due to security reasons the knife edge the direct path which goes through the gorge(knife's path) to the BSNL tower was closed. The police advised us to go via the road. We followed the road for a while, searched for a path and decided to the walk parallel to the original route and join the path from knife edge at some point. There was no path, so had to venture into the bushes and shrubs and create our own path chasing away the small snakes (exaggerated, found only one) that were resting. The next hour was dedicated to this. The good part was we were able to do it and get back to the original path, and the bad part was we had lost a good amount of time. And we reached the BSNL tower by 5.00PM.
Any trek will involve meeting a local who will claim the place we intend to go is not near as we think, but it is +x KM. Such meeting happened in the BSNL tower. We were under the impression that Galikere is around 4-5KM from BSNL tower, but the guy there claimed it is 8KM. We knew 8KM after 5PM will involve trekking in the dark. Anyway learnt next day that Galikere is 5KM from the place and the route is not difficult either. The guy also showed us Manikyadhara, that is very close to the tower, where we can camp. Mr. Prasad, the forest officer we met during the last visit had mentioned that it is good for camping and we get food/fish fry there. I remembered the place name and the office name because of the mention of fish fry. Manikyadhara also has a small waterfalls which attracts tourists. Anyway all shops were closed due to Dattareya Jeyanthi and there were no jeeps as well. Otherwise it is possible to rent a jeep from there to Galikere. With were very little options left we decided to camp near a pond in Manikyadhara. The place was pretty and peaceful. There were no rough winds which left us in absolute silence. Still was able to manage only a disturbed sleep due to the cold weather and possibly due to the uneasy tranquility that prevailed.
Day 2 - Sunday - Dec 15, 2013
Woke up around 6.30AM to the sound of birds. In particular there was a bird that whistled/sang beautifully. Was not able to sight it. Spent sometime roaming and exploring the area around the tent, more importantly waiting for the sun to heat up a little, so the bath in Manikyadhara falls will be enjoyable. Though Manikyadhara falls did not have much water to offer, the bath was exhilarating. Camping at Manikyadhara meant 5KM gets added to the Day 2 trek to Kemmangundi, making it more than 20KM and impossible. So we called it a day and walked towards Bababudangiri. From the "My Tracks" android app the total distance we covered was around 13KM on the first day and 3KM walk to bababudangiri on the second day. The SMS bus service was the only option available. Boarded the bus at 11.15AM which started at 12.45PM and reached chickmagalur at the right time to catch the 2PM bus back to bangalore :-)
Though the weather during december was good and helped in trekking without drizzle and leeches, it is during the monsoon or just after the end of monsoon, Mullayanagiri is at its supreme grandeur. The thought beckons attempt #4 for the full 30+ KM trek, time will answer whether it will happen.