Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Kunti Betta - 5 July 2015

Date: 16 May 2015
Time: around 4 PM
Weather: heavy down pour

Not surprisingly, night trek was canceled, much to everyone's disappointment

Date: 5 July 2015
Time: 7:30 AM
Weather: Warm and Sunny

Not surprisingly, 21 trekkers were on their way to spend a day climbing rocks as an excuse to have a fun time with friends who were strangers the day before.

BTC organizers Sonali & Ramya and some of us were coincidentally part of both lists. After frantic scramble, most of us managed to fit within a compartment and some came to join along the way. After a few mandatory snaps, we got Dumb Charades going. Movies we gave were either too easily guessed or made tougher than warranted by comic acting. Movies we got always took long time owing to inept acting and poor guess work. And if that wasn't enough recipe for jolly laughs, members often guessed/helped for the opponent team :D Add some inspired acting and guessing, 100+ minutes passed in a jiffy. As we neared Pandavapura, couple of crossings and hunger pangs meant snack munching earlier than usual.

We had to disappoint plenty of clamoring auto wallas on our way to breakfast, a place near the Mysore highway. Thatte idlis, vada, tomato rice followed by tea/coffee - tasty and filling. Tomato/Lemon rice packed for lunch. Fierce competition ensued to provide us mini-bus transport to Kunti Betta. And while we waited, we checked out coin operated 'wireless' phone box, bought water bottles and milled around.

Unusually, there were plenty of first timers in our group (organizers informed during feedback after trek that it was a conscious effort on their part - kudos! ). After Dumb Charades, photo snaps and introduction session at foot hills of Kunti Betta, the group had already started to gel well. Organizers stressed about important policies like no littering and to stay as a group throughout the trek.

But right before actual climb started, I brought about a division. We stopped besides the algae infested pool, looking at a steep slope - without pausing to think or hear, I leapt ahead. Few other followed while organizers wanted us to take the easier route. Compromise time - Srikanth (BTC organizer) came with us leaving Sonali and Ramya to commandeer the rest. And it helped that we could see possible merging of paths.

After the initial steep slope, it became easier, punctuated now and then with small jumping maneuvers. To our left was another hill and a lake at its base. Visweswarayya Canal, roughly dividing the town in two, was visible further away. Trees, farms and cottages completed our surrounding view.

A few gray clouds and refreshing wind bursts saved us from what would otherwise been a very hot summer day. A family with very excited kids were not far behind us and over the course, overtook us.

The two groups joined as we reached the track between two hills. We took break often to catch our breadth and hydrate. The uneven climb made it touch above easy trek. And large climbing strides and small leaps became necessary as we neared the peak. It took us just above an hour.

A vertical pillar, about 15 feet in height, marked the peak. Large boulders were strewn around, providing us space to keep our bags in shade as well as ample opportunity for photo shoots - we needed more than an hour! While the boulders provided nice shots by themselves as well as for jumping shots, the hanging rock took the top honors.

Photo Credit: Ganesh Venkataramani

The howling wind made it even more thrilling to reach the edge and dangle our legs over yawning empty space. From push-ups to yoga, standing to sleeping, umpteen positions were tried to get that awesome profile pic. And there were 3-4 photographers calling the shots from different angles. And of course, we tried various group snaps at different locations. By start of feedback session in train back to Bangalore, my both sets of batteries and camera memory were out!

We took about 45 minutes to reach the base. This time we were all together as a group and took the easier path after climbing down from the main hill. The steep portion besides the algae infested pool has a sliding track, probably formed by people sliding down over the years. Some were sportive enough to try it.

After washing and filling water outside the temple steps at the base, we had lunch inside a sheltered hall. Lemon/Tomato rice with sambhar/curd and snacks to add taste. Followed by three cameras on timer for group pic. The mini-bus then dropped us back at Pandavapura bus stand. Passenger train arrived even as we were purchasing tickets. Huge crowd and jostle for seats again. More than two and half hours it took to reach Bangalore. We had jack fruit, dates, Maddur vada, Churumuri, biscuits etc and then feedback session was done with on the journey itself. Trek expenses came to Rs 205 and Rs 5 was added as BTC fund.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Ramadevara Betta - 27 June 2015

End of June. Rainy season. Day trek? Not usual. I have only once ever done a day trek in June, way back in 2010 - and it had rained plenty while coming down that day. I thought why not? It is not as if I would be alone, and a trek with BTC has always been fun.

We were to catch 7:30 AM passenger train (Tirupathi-Bangalore-Mysore). Another group (to Nijagal Betta) were taking 7:45 AM train, so it wasn't a surprise that I met two of that group in the same bus to Majestic. Hiren (organizer) lead us to platform 6 and soon after most of us had assembled. And so good to see Vaibhav and Sudesh again, whom I met in my first trek with BTC. Sonali (organizer) came just before train arrived, eliciting an apology - I like this from BTC very much, some rules have to be strictly enforced. A trekker soon found out why - missed the trek, despite the train starting about 20 minutes late.

Awesome video compilation by Rakshit

Unlike the train to Makalidurga, took less than an hour to reach Ramnagar. We had to sit cramped in different compartments and some took to top berth. So, we missed the usual Dumb Charades ice breaker. That didn't stop our scattered little groups discussing treks. We walked more than a km from Ramnagar railway station to have breakfast, near bus stand. Food was good, we packed for lunch and brought water bottles. And we made full use of rest room, despite the confusing 'No Admission' sign.

It was a hot morning. We hired two auto rickshaws to drop us about 3 km further, costing 5 bucks per person. The base of Ramadevara Betta was still half an hour ahead. Clouds and little bit of wind made the walk through village road pleasant. Villagers were attending to their everyday work at shops, only mildly curious about our 21 strong group in trekking gear, selfie sticks and cameras. Tall trees and hills all around. A good spot chosen for Sholay. As for us, we were again in little groups, changing now and then, discussing our jobs and the lure of trekking.

After a brief confusion near a small lake full of Lotus (we did enjoy taking snaps and pun on Kamal nevertheless), we crossed a village with mud road, another lake and a guard at the foot hills. A concrete winding road took us to start of temple steps, which made 'trekking' moot - steps all the way to top of hill.

A sheltered walkway with sidewalls to sit on provided the ideal opportunity to rest after the hike and introduction round. Most of us had been on a trek with BTC before.

Steps were boring and painful on the thighs. So we took a break by veering off for photo shoots by large boulders - selfies, jumps, group, ladies only, what not. The view of the surrounding hills, particularly the vertical one was pleasing to the eye. And on we climbed the steps again.

Shortly, huffing and puffing, we reached the temple, with broad spaces around and a cliff ending with pond. We spent a long time resting, discussing, pics, spreading out to edges of the hill and some snacks as well. Hiren then asked what we would like to do after coming down from the peak - overwhelming majority for boat ride against another hill trek.

After a short trek, we came to almost vertical cliff to climb - with steps carved and railings on both sides to hold. It looked and felt scary, especially while coming back with the wind howling crazy. We took turns to capture with selfie sticks and camera and Rakshit's GoPro.

The peak was even broader open space, with a few cacti and a nice pond with water plants and crabs. And one could spot the train whistling past. When we had enough of walking around and pics, we sat as a group for lunch. Tamarind rice with coconut chutney and snacks made it a happy meal. Wind threatened to spoil our no littering policy but we managed to get'em back. Again kudos to BTC.

Around 1 PM, we started our way down. Took us less than 25 minutes from peak to outside temple steps entrance. Hike to main road perhaps took longer. Again, we were in little groups and the discussion in our little one centered heavily on different trekking clubs and nice but less familiar trekking spots. Near the main road was a government (I think so) run facility providing treated water - 10 liters for Rs. 1

We hired two auto rickshaws to take us to Rangarayara Doddi lake, about 6 km from there. It got bit more cloudy when we reached and drizzled a bit during our 1 hour stay. The muddy lake was encased on road side by raised walkway and hills on around other sides. A small hill rose where we could climb about halfway (pretty steep further up) and have the lake in front of us. Other groups (localites I presume) were enjoying the two paddle boats and our large group prompted motor boat to be brought. Some were flying kite, tough controlling against the wind.

Two rounds to accommodate our large group, the ride itself short but good, especially for selfies and profile pics. And some took to paddle boating as well. We then took the waiting rickshaws to drop us directly to railway station. With more than an hour to kill, we hit the roadside stalls for chats, samosas, lime sodas, etc. And jack fruit on the platform. We got Dumb Charades going, but train arrived soon after. This time, some of us had to stand. Hiren worked trek expenses - grand total of Rs 151 for a fun filled day. And some of us topped it with refreshing tea/coffee outside the railway station :)

Other Works

Square Tic Tac Toe
Get it on Google Play

Beginner's guide to Command line and Scripting