What better way to start a new year than jumping in the pools of Nagala with friends from BTC? As usual, our meeting point was opposite Majestic, Terminal 3. I was coming from Salem via train and reached before everyone else :P Soon others arrived and we chit-chatted till it was time to start our journey. Arun, our organizer for the trek, welcomed us and was asking who had extra space to carry groceries during the trek. Thankfully we were only a short distance on our way, because Arun realized that we'd forgotten the grocery bag and went back to get it.
We reached Nagala before 5:30AM on Saturday. As usual, our local guide Giri was there. We refreshed up at a marriage hall and resumed our journey to Nagala base. On the way, we stopped by Giri's place for breakfast(tasty idlis+chutneys) and packing lunch.
At the base, 10 of us who'd opted for life-jackets (thanks Satish for getting them) strapped to our bags while others enthusiastically took a share of groceries to carry. Arun re-iterated BTC rules and we were on our way. By that time, Arun and I had raised plenty of expectations for first timers to Nagala regarding pools to visit as well as withholding some secrets :P Some first timers had already come with expectations from their friends tales. By end of the trek, everybody expressed that Nagala exceeded all their combined expectations ;)
By the time we started (with a dog which tagged along with us throughout the trek), the morning chill had dissipated and made for a pleasant weather. The sight of full dam indicated pools would be full and flowing - which again turned out better than expected. Early start and enthusiastic trekkers meant we made fast progress. Also, excluding Giri, we were 12 member group - much smaller than the usual 20+ members for Nagala trips. I felt that smaller group worked out well in all aspects.
With just short breaks, we reached the first (Darr ke aage jeet hai) pool in less than two hours. Which meant we had plenty of time to play in water. I introduced the 1-2-3-jump mantra for first timers with life-jackets. It was so good to see them overcoming their fears and take the leap of faith. Some even had the courage to do the 20+ feet jump :)
After a while, we took a tea break (thanks Arun and Giri) as well as to warm ourselves in the Sun (water was chilly) And of course we went in for another round - jumping and floating and so on.
Then it was time for lunch - lemon rice and snacks. We had brought boxes to reduce waste, but it also resulted in packing more than we could eat :P We experimented if the small fishes in the steam would feed - yup, they attacked and finished off before even a single rice could touch the bottom. So, many of us soon indulged in feeding the fishes :)
After short rest, we continued on to reach the next pool. A bit tough to get going after heavy lunch but we soon hit our strides again and reached our camping spot (a large half open cave, just below the peak) in about half an hour. Luckily we had arrived before another group came(who then camped on the peak)
Another break later, we spread the tarpaulin we'd brought in our camping spot. Then with our life-jackets, we went up first to a short waterfall (about 15-20 minute walk beyond the sliding pool). Water force was strong enough for us to clamor for a chance to stand/sit under it. And of course posing for photos :P
We then went back to experience the natural slide - again some were queasy about trying it. In the end everybody had fun, so much so they were ready to second/third turns - despite the cold water and tricky climb back. Going in with strapped sandals is the best option to avoid chance of skin scraping.
Then started the grand dinner preparation - some took to helping cut the vegetables, some to fill water bottles and wash vessels, some to help Giri in firewood collection and so on. We even cleaned up some of the garbage left by others. Along with dinner preparation, we had another round of tea and snacks. And thanks to Samir and Mamatha, we gobbled up a tasty salad as well. All the while chit-chatting and pulling legs (especially Suhail, we won't be forgetting that for a while :P)
Dinner was very tasty, thanks to chefs Mamatha and Ramya, along with Giri and Arun for help. Our gup-shup was still continuing in full flow. Then we went to peak for eye-feast - sparkling stars on a clear night. Ganesh told us about constellations and other trivia. We switched off our torches and held silence for a while, soaking in nature's wild beauty.
We then made arrangements to sleep, with Giri sleeping nearby the camp fire(and stoked it throughout the night). We woke by 5 AM to freshen up and start early again. Breakfast was tea, snacks and maggi. Group photo before leaving for the third and final pool.
Again, we made brisk progress and reached the deadend pool in about an hour. Always fun crossing the stream, which was knee deep at one point. We all made for the hidden waterfall first - it was the most water flow I'd seen there. Everybody had a blast standing under it and Samir's gopro was kept busy. Then it was time again for jumps - encouraged by previous day's effort, many enjoyed the ~15 feet jump.
Lunch was mostly bread+jam and some snacks. Didn't expect that the rolls I'd brought from Salem would be so liked (probably the hunger made it so :P) - may be I'll take more the next time around :D. Then it was time to go - looking back, feels like time flew very fast during the trek.
As we were going back to Bengaluru the same day, we trekked back as fast as we could. We reached the base before 2:30PM - usually we would be having lunch after enjoying deadend pool around that time when it was night travel.
After commending and dropping off Giri, we had feedback session - so good to hear first timers expressing their wonder of enjoying the natural pools :) Rest of the journey was sleeping, chit-chatting, sharing photos, contacts, etc. We had dinner in Palamaner, after which I slept nicely till Hosakote :P Then it was time to say goodbye and a promise to meet again - BTC sure is addicting ;)