Don't get alarmed by the title, I just had a small accident on the trek :D. Unlike my previous trekking posts, I promise to stick to the main details ;)
It was Saturday, June the 12th of 2010, that 20 enthusiasts and two guides from BMC embarked to climb Makalidurga, around 70km from Bangalore. Four of them I knew from the trek to Madhugiri. A cloudy and windy day, most of us were prepared for rain (some like me wished for downpour :D). After an awesome ride via new airport road and beautiful country-side we reached the scarcely populated village of Makalidurga. We chattered away for most of the ride and my customary penchant for enjoying the window-view noted just the one odd - a resort named something like 'Ramanashree - California' Resort!
There is a railway track at the foothills with a station close-by. One could even take a passenger train to reach Makalidurga. Just before we started our ascent, a train passed by and I craved for another train to pass which could be seen from top of the hill. The hill has a large base covered with vegetation and surrounded all-round with other hills. With Sun playing hide and seek with clouds and the relatively easy climb, I enthusiastically clicked away pics of the greenery all around. But pretty soon, the heavy back-pack (rain-coat and umbrella to go with snacks & water bottles) and increasing difficulty in the climb meant I had to slow down and take frequent rest. Had a energy-packed peanut bar and enjoyed viewing the lake which had begun to show.
Multiple pathways posed a problem initially. And despite the cool weather, perspiration slowed us considerably. Bare, big rocks showed up much to the dismay of first timers. I tried to assure them that this is relatively easier compared to the one I has 2 weeks back. The slope being not so steep, it was like walk in the park. The rocky climb ended with a flat surface and rest of the climb to the top was greener bushy path again. After a rest on the flat surface and taking copious snaps, we started for the final flourish to the summit. And lo! we heard the unmistakable chugging of the train at the foothills. Took videos and snaps and the sight is still etched in memory. :)
Willing myself to go on without stoppage, I reached the summit which held a broken fort. The summit was 1350m above sea level, but the climb had been much shorter than Madhugiri. You gotta see to believe the wonderful view of the surrounding landscape dotted with hills, lake and farmland. Tranquility of the surrounding would have been a blessing experience but for the constant honking of the vehicles below. It was around 12pm and too early to have lunch. So, 4-5 of us started to explore the summit. The fencing was tattered a bit, but still strong. There was light drizzle too :). I had initially thought it would be some 10-15min walk. Little did I know the breadth of the fort. It would be some acres! Not that I complained, the summit is pretty flat, and the walk was never tiring. Infact I felt very fresh! And looking back we could see the rain approaching :). A lifetime experience that. One of them had a binocular - we tried to make out the color of shirt worn by the two-wheeler riders :P. We walked along the circular fence with rain starting to get heavier. We tried to find a shady place to have lunch when we saw the temple. The veranda was open space and we couldn't have gone inside the temple to have lunch. So we searched again. Search because, as I said the summit must be in acres . Presently we saw a man-made arrangement of rocks with a small passage. A fellow trekker was already there having lunch and the protected place was too small to hold us all. As we ventured further, we saw the remaining lot perched under a big tree. Rain had ceased a bit, so we resigned to have lunch on the rocks. It was wet but we had no choice, had we? To our dismay, some of us had not got the spoons from the co-ordinators :D.
Within few minutes, rain hit back as though angered by our presence. We ran to the rock arrangement, and this time we managed to fit ourselves :D. While we had lunch discussion moved to 'bats' and how it's excreta could be dangerous! All along, rain was incessant but not heavy. On the stone walls that extended beyond the passage, there was a small space like a window. We wondered it's purpose. A tree's branches reached the window and one of us noticed an empty, small bird-nest. It was so well constructed and looked so cute when placed on the palms. The rain had stopped and one of the co-ordinator came searching for us. We were to start our descent in a short-while.
We explored around the fence again from where we had left. At one point, tree's branches blocked about half the path of two-feet wall. I got scared a little, but did not show externally and mustering courage crossed it. It was easier than expected, but I was relieved nonetheless. What lay ahead was something of a surprise, but we should have anticipated it. We had circled a full 360 degrees of the fort! We had agreed to the co-ordinator of coming back to that big tree and climb down all together. Instead, we called them (after two-three tries) to inform our location and waited.
Seemed an eternity before the group arrived and we reached the flat rock base to rest. Rain droplets on the grass blade were beautiful to look at and so were the purple flowers growing between the rocks. As like the Madhugiri trek, there was a photographer amongst us, clicking away the beautiful scenery all around us. I wasn't far behind in clicking and then I caught the sight of a chameleon, all still, head raised on a medium sized rock. Calling the photographer to come ASAP, I hurried to the rock, sighting well its slippery surface. It wasn't the usual rock wet by the recent rain. It was kind of the rock one could spot near a waterfall. I do not remember well enough, but I must have tried to put my right foot to test how much grip I can get. Before one could blink - there I was down, having slipped as I made contact with the slippery rock. Well of course there was flat base below the rock, or I wouldn't have ventured. But as with most uncontrolled falls, my right leg twisted and I landed on it. Within moments, the fellow trekkers were besides me asking have I injured myself. I felt pain, but I was sure it wasn't fracture. I was more interested to the fate of my camera - a small tapering on the cosmetic surrounding the lens which wouldn't allow the lens set to shut properly. With a little push with fingers, I was able to close it properly. And only then did I remove my shoes to inspect the injury. Talk about caring for oneself :(
One had fast-relief, which I applied all around. Somehow managed to put on the socks and shoes back again. I realised that I would have to keep going without rest if I had to reach the foothill. The co-ordinator now came with his spray. This time around it was even more difficult removing the shoes. There was a small-apple sized swell big enough to cover the Calcaneus bone. After applying the spray, the co-ordinator rightly suggested to put on the shoe without the sock and tie the laces tightly. Even now I wonder how was I able to put my leg into the shoe!
Everyone had gathered by now on the flat rock and time for group-photo. After what seemed an eternity, it was taken and we started to move. Only for the photographer to discover that the settings were not right! So again we stood for the pose, myself seething with pain. As we started the descent again, they offered to carry the back-pack for me. But that being a non-issue, I politely refused. They offered bodily support too. While that was generous of them, I knew that they would feel very difficult to support my weight. Yes, although am very lean, the pressure we put for supporting the body is not easy to manage. I wasn't that bad in a position to be not able to walk. I could place my right foot and apply as much pressure needed to lift my left leg and move forward. But, it being a descent through the rocks, I resorted to crawling most of the way, using my hands to place on the side rocks for support. It was Madhugiri revisited, but for all the wrong reasons :D. Where necessary, I used the generous hand supports. One thing I realized later is, at no point did anyone talk about my carelessness. And am largely thankful to them for it.
Slowly and steadily I reached (or rather, crawled to) the large base of the hill, from which it was more of a walk than climbing down. The rain Gods seemed to have waited for me to reach this point, as the rain returned and this time, it was outright downpour. Cannot imagine if it had occurred right after I had slipped, or for that matter, if it had been a fracture. Gives me the creeps thinking about it.
It was half an hour or so, that we walked through the streams guiding us to reach the cab. My wish for rain had been granted, but I paid a price for it :D. Although I had put on my raincoat and my back-pack water-proof, I was drenched and water had found its way through the tiny gaps of zipped fabric. As I entered the cab, they asked me how did I feel. And I replied, 'Great'.
Thus ended another unforgettable trekking experience, for all the good and bad reasons. What followed was my visit to doctor (aided by my room-mate and his friend), plastering and realizing how uncomfortable one would be even though the swell in itself wasn't that painful. And oh, by the way, I did honestly think I would be doing much shorter post before the keyboard led my fingers to...
PS: Last Friday, i.e. 25th June, myself and some of my company colleagues had gone to a school-kit distribution near Bypanahalli, organized by YFS (http://youthforseva.org/) . I experienced the 'Joy of Giving' :)