Time to start trekking again in preparation for my first Himalayan trek next month. And as usual, had a fun time with BTC, even though it was my third visit to Horagina Betta.
Thanks to Metro line finally thrown open at least in East-West corridor, some of us had the luxury of reaching Terminal-3 well in time. With IPL match scheduled, the train was jam packed and big queue to get tickets (not an issue if you have Metro smart card). Others though were delayed due to the infamous Bengaluru traffic. And so we had to start about half an hour late than scheduled.
By 7:15 PM, we reached Karahalli cross (we got down at an unscheduled stop on the highway and caught two share-autos to Karahalli). We spent an hour at a hotel there for dinner (pro-tip: if you aren't too hungry, share single plate of rice for two people :P)
It had rained earlier in the day there and thunder grumbled in the distance promising more rain. Thanks to detailed mail prior to event and remainder from organizers Virander and Deepthy, we had come prepared with ponchos and stuff.
We finally started our trek on the village road leading to Nandi Hills base. About 15 minutes later, we stopped for intro session. Was good to see so many new comers as well as many regulars. The organizers re-iterated BTC rules and we were on our way again.
It was a different trail than my previous night trek here. Easier and fewer thorny plants. Once we hit the rocky trail, it was pretty much straight route to reach the muddy road leading to trek path towards Horagina Betta. We stopped as and when we needed a break, which was quite often :P And then the ominous grumbling from sky above would make us scurry ahead again :P.
With just 10 minutes of trek left, the heavens decided to finally open up and drenched us all. We took shelter at the peak in an enclosed structure (close to the temple) - by the time everybody arrived, the rain had stopped and wind blew away the clouds during course of the night.
We hiked past the temple to the open and wider part of the peak. With wind blowing fiercely, water on the rocky peak as well as our clothes dried quickly. After a while, we moved again near a tree to sit around in a wide circle. Wind and still wet wood meant we didn't try camp fire yet.
After much discussion, we settled down to play a game. It goes something like this - we start counting from 1-14. The person supposed to say 7 has to say 14 instead and the person supposed to say 14 has to say a phrase instead and then allocate an interesting task for a particular number. As the game continues with counting from 1 again, whenever a person has to say those particular numbers, they have to also do the task set. Next time 14 comes, another task for another number gets added and so on. We played for quite a handful rounds with tasks like 'Sing a song', 'Say a movie dialogue', 'Run around our circle once', 'Tap the next five people on head while making an irritating sound', 'Rap on a melodious song', 'Hold your torch on the head' etc
With growing chill, we then went back to temple and started preparations for camp fire. It took a while to get the fire going with not-yet-completely-dried-wood. Time being past midnight, people started going to sleep and few brave souls went up again with their cameras to capture the night sky.
Those few gathered around the fire frequently switched places to avoid smoke as well as to gather more sticks to burn. A while later hot water was prepared for hungry souls eating cup noodles. To pass time, we started with a discussion on Himalayan treks - Deepthy leading the way with interesting stories and useful anecdotes. After a failed Antakshri earlier, we now moved on to play songs on mobile instead. Mostly it was melodious hits in both Hindi/Tamil (to cater the mixed audience :P) with occasional high-energy hits from Rockstar and the like.
While the wind had cleared the clouds, we were surrounded by mists now and then. And we had a few scary moments as well. A green baby snake was spotted pretty close to our huddle around the fire and just minutes later a scorpion.
The sky started brightening around 5 AM and we could see sea of clouds clinging to Nandi hills. There was a plan to start the descent around this hour, but was dropped. Instead we prepared coffee, watched bikers on the road to Nandi hills, took pics with clouds, rising Sun and started back after 6:40 AM.
We trekked back with very few breaks. In daylight, the surrounding hills and the odd flower/insect/grass were pleasing to watch and spot. By 8 AM, we reached the hotel for refreshment and breakfast. Feedback session was positive all around as usual, with some ideas pitched-in as well. Special praise for first-timers who mingled well with the group and co-ordinated without a glitch during trek.