Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Siddarabetta - 9 Oct 2016

Another weekend, another trek with BTC :) This time to Siddarabetta, one among the various hills near Tumkur. But easily reachable via public transport. So, we mini-bus for us 20 trekkers. As usual, our meeting point was Shantala Silk house, opposite Terminal 3, Majestic. Most convenient to reach by Metro :P




After we were on our way, we had our introductions followed by a round of Dumb Charades. Some were guessed quick enough, some went on for a agonizingly long time. One was guessed even without acting :O In between, we stopped for breakfast and got lunch packed (Most of us had got fruits and snacks aplenty, some got food from home, so we packed about 10 to be on safer side). We still had time to pass after the game, so with music on, we danced and shouted about.


It was a hot day. And steps to climb initially. We took plenty of breaks and hydrated well before we could get used to terrain and conditions. Taking steps all the way up would be boring, so of course we took an alternate path.


We immediately liked this path. Steeper to climb than the steps but much better than monotonous steps. We were more exposed to Sun as well, but we took our breaks when needed under the comfort of trees.


With not much of a path to follow, sometimes we had to wade through bushes, getting scratched from their tiny needles all over our exposed parts of body. For the moment it was fun, but itches for a few days after :D There was a water pipe to refill our water bottles just before we had to wade through series of boulders.




We took our time and organizers - Vikram and Ameer co-ordinated to find a way. By sheer bad luck, we got split into 11 member on one side and remaining 9 another side (turned out to be right way to reach temple). Among the boulders formed like cave structures, one group took to left and we tried the one straight ahead. We thought we would just go around and meet on the other side. Not to be.




Luckily though, organizers got split too. Vikram leading from front was with other group and Ameer co-ordinating from trail end was with us. We were close to carved steps to our right, but we continued climbing on our alternate way. Sudesh had a moment of scare though - slipped on wet patch and escaped unharmed, thanks to bushes. I was dumbstruck watching it close by and moved after Ameer told me. Phew, hope next time I act faster.





At the temple, Ameer and Sandeep went to see if the other group were nearby. We had mobile signal, but were not able to connect with any of their numbers. While waiting, we had oranges and Electral to energize ourselves. Monkeys gave us a hard time.

Ameer and Sandeep came back with no sign of them, so we decided to move to peak (as per plan, hoping they would reach it either coming after us or some other way).

For a while, we skirted the cliffs with boulders nearby or in our way. Then it was among trees and bushes till the peak.



We were pleasantly surprised by the pretty large open spaces on the peak. Not smoothly continuous though and large portions weren't easily accessible due to height differences.

We took plenty of photos before settling down for lunch with beautiful view all around. Most of the packed lunches were with other group. But we had more than enough fruits and snacks to compensate.




All the while we kept trying to reach the other group. Soon we connected a few calls (which kept getting cut frequently) and got to know they were still stuck inside caves. We told them our position and said we'll wait for them to come.



The wait turned out to be too long though. After resting and masti, we started our way down. Short while later we finally met them coming up. Instead of going to peak, it was decided to go back. First though, we stopped for them to have their lunch. Some of our group had second helping too :P




The boulders and cliffs gave plenty of nice opportunities for clicking profile pics. After reaching the temple, we took the stairs all the way down. We were all pretty quick in descending. Some of us had cucumber with bhel-puri kinda masala mixing - yummy.


On the way back, we continued our music with dance for a while. Then about half of us kept on with singing whatever came to mind. Ashish led the way with plenty of odd ones.


At Dobbspet, we stopped for refreshments and feedback session. With long way to go yet, some took to sleeping and others passed time with individual discussions and group banters. The day ended with Bengaluru rains making a pleasant weather :)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Nijagal Betta - 1 Oct 2016

Thanks to BTC, yet another hill flagged :) We caught the 7:45 AM passenger train and got down at Dobbspet. As it was Saturday, it was not jam packed and we had few rows to ourselves. No intro or Dumb Charades though, as Channa explained later, he wanted to avoid us being too noisy for fellow passengers and also give members a chance to rest (being very next day to Friday). Even so, people had conversations who felt so and others had a power nap.



We hired couple of share autos at Dobbspet (Dobby comes to mind with the name :P) to take us near the hill (about 3.5 KM). On the way, we stopped for breakfast and packing lunch (the usual spot on Tumkur road, near a junction). With minimizing use of plastic in mind, Channa had asked us to bring lunch boxes, kudos BTC :)

Near the base, we had to cross railway tracks and then we had proper intro session. Nice to see many newbies, they all had good words to say at the end of day. Since Channa was lone organizer for the day, he asked me to co-ordinate at back end. No problems, happy to volunteer and helped me click more photos :P especially spotting likely candidates for macro shots with Ashish besides me ;)



The initial trail was slippery on grainy soil. The group ahead would wait often for us to catch up. Weather being nice meant good lighting for pics as well as too many breaks were not required.


Our first destination was to ruins of a temple. On the way was a pond, where we didn't miss photo ops :P Big boulders, cliff faces, honey combs, big birds - plus nice weather! It was already turning out to be a good trek, despite relatively small hill.




Then we came back to the diverging path and continued on the main trail to peak. We had gotten used to rocky climb by then. The views all around (when not hidden by huge boulders) were awesome too. Shivgange on the distance stood out.




The fort walls and stone archways added to the beauty. As we climbed higher, our views became even better. The temple ruin and pond made for good photo clicks.




And the jumping shots were inevitably attempted.


And then there was the last stretch to peak. What fun to try to look like we were climbing a particularly difficult stretch :P There were little steps carved, but that would be too easy. So, we bent our back and used our hands to crawl.




The peak was pretty large area to explore with its many stone structures built and large boulders forming interesting paths and sort of caves. And the monkeys. Be very wary of them if you happen to visit this awesome hill.

After a while, we sat under one of those biggggggg rocks (wasn't too hot despite a bit of sunshine, but who'll want to miss the shade and cool breeze to go with).

After much deliberation, we settled to play Dumb Charades. It was pretty fun, especially to guess those really long names (BTC experience helps :P) The two kids (came with their parents, so good to see) added to entertainment with their enacting and guess work.

Packed lunch (tamarind rice) was tasty. But we couldn't eat in peace with monkeys looking to snatch away. In the end we walked away with some putting off to eat afterwards.

While taking group pics, one adventurous monkey managed to steal a water bottle! We managed to retrieve the bottle before leaving though (after it was damaged and almost empty)

Going down was quite fast as usual. Little bit tricky, but first timers quickly got the hang of climbing down side ways. On the way down, we met people from nearby village coming up, presumably to visit temple.



At the base, we continued walking towards the railway station. We had plenty of time left to catch the train and the trek hadn't been too taxing anyway. Though it wasn't hot, it was a bit humid. Our water rations were running low too. Minimum 2 liters for a day trek is must.




Of course, we tried balancing on rails :P Smaller groups formed and changed frequently as we got into discussions, topics ranging wide and far. The two kids were a revelation to talk too. So mature and knowledgeable. And came to know about NOS - didn't know self schooling was possible in India. These two kids are taught primarily by their mother and give exams as per NOS. And they like their sports and novels to go with. Nice :)

Speaking of sports, we kept tab on ongoing India-NZ test series. After not so good first day, we were surprised to know Indian lower order had pushed our innings total beyond 300 and that NZ were 4 down for less than 100 in reply.

After a long walk, we finally reached Dobbspet railway station. We filled our water bottles and then sat down for feedback session (to go with those finishing their lunches and the rest munching on snacks/fruits). Return journey went in a breeze with our continued discussion. Had to adjust in various seats as crowd was much more than morning.

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