With the pre monsoon showers in the city yesterday, I suddenly got all nostalgic and went back to the memory lane. Not much back in time, when we had decided to conquer the highest mountain peak of Maharashtra- ‘Kalsubai’. This post was planned back then, which I ever wrote, I don’t know why!! We were a tiny group of 3 very different and enthusiastic people who had one thing in common – the love for Nature, Mountains and Adventure!!
We started off early morning from Mumbai and reached Bari: the base village at around 6:30 a.m. A very small village near the Igatpuri district of Maharashtra. Not being an early bird, for me, it was very difficult to even keep my eyes open. I had that drowsy feeling and felt like sleeping wherever possible. Thanks to my fellow trekkers (read friends) who dodged me out of that zone, just to make sure I don’t miss out on the most serene and beautiful scenes of early morning. It was somewhere in the 1st week of September, when rains tends to follow sporadic moody patterns. We could see huge fields with lush green rainy crops, trees and bushes- all set to photosynthesize their daily food, small lakes and puddles near-by which had crystal clear water, fog that is generally experienced during monsoons and winter seasons on that route, ladies carrying those ‘matkas’ on their head to fetch water and birds chirruping-cuckoo’s cooing and celebrating the start to a yet another beautiful day. The beauty of nature amazes me every time. Such is its charm that it does keep me wondering (always) as to how God has created everything and there is a harmony between anything and everything out there. This is when I simply decide to let those thoughts come and go by, without trying to push myself and figure out the answers to every question.
At the base village we were approached by the village locals for home-made breakfast. There is a tradition in a typical Maharashtrian household, where breakfast means ‘Garam Poha’. We were also offered Chai but looking at our faces (heavily nodding) the lady was kind enough to make us a cup of coffee instead. Coffee plays a ‘pivotal’ role in bringing me to my senses and actually waking me up. Having that coffee was optimum to rejuvenate us from within. We were all set to ascend the glorified Everest of Maharashtra (as it is referred to) – the 1646 Mt high peak in the Sahyadri Mountain ranges, which demands good endurance level and will power. It is definitely not for the lazy and the weak ones.
We knew it well in advance that this trek is not going to be an easy one (read slippery). We had planned to take just 1 bag pack with us which had 3 bottles of water and some food along with snickers!! It was only 15-20 minutes that we had started climbing and I was tired!! May be it was the lack of sleep or I don’t know why, but it seemed impossible for me to go further. I chose a rock to sit and hydrate myself as much I can. If there hadn’t been a push from my friend, I might not have decided to start again. He made sure that this time I had an intention to take a break not until we reach half way. One of the most essential part of any adventure is the company you have. There has to be a constant give and take of positive energy and much needed motivation with a ‘You can do it spirit’.
We took multiple breaks wherever we used to find a place to sit. There were a couple of ‘nimbu pani’ stalls, Maggie stalls and small huts where we could find other trekking groups resting and sharing their stories. The moment I felt exhausted, I used to open my camera flap and start clicking. It was a good idea of getting distracted and not giving up. My friends knew how I love to click and being clicked, so wherever I felt like giving up, they used to start clicking my pictures randomly and so would I. It works!!
After reaching a certain altitude, there were constant spells of cold breeze wiping off the sweat and exhaustion from our faces. As we went up, the trek trail started becoming narrower. The best strategy was to form a chain and keep going further. There were many steep rocks where the locals, with the help of iron rods had made railings and steps to ease their daily commute. We were very lucky as it wasn’t raining heavily that day. Gentle drizzle was exactly what we needed!! That made it easier to watch out for the slippery areas and avoid being trapped in the wet red soil (mud). It was close to 3 hours and I used to ask people who were descending as to how much time will it take now to reach the top!! Everyone had a common answer-10-15 minutes. I guess my tone showed how impatient and restless I was getting. Finally after 30 minutes I could finally spot the peak. The happiness of seeing that peak amidst the clouds can be compared with the look on child’s face when you buy an ice-cream.
The peak was only 10 minutes away!! That was the most beautiful part of the trek. The plateaus were completely covered by tiny lavender and white coloured flowers, which seemed to be seasonal, but they covered up the entire patch, as if there was a lavender and white bed sheet drawn by Mother Nature. That fresh oxygen, the aroma of the wet soil and the most amazing view was simply breathtaking. We could see the spot where we started from and the whole of the beautiful lush green valley. At the top was a temple which was surrounded by rocks and a railing was made in order to help the trekkers to rest there. Not exaggerating at all, but the view and the atmosphere was totally worth every drop of sweat and pain that we took to climb up this peak. We spent more than an hour, munching food, talking, clicking and capturing the view deep within. Such are these places, which urge you to sit quietly without any thoughts, stress and worries. You feel at peace from within and literally lose the track of time. It was an amazing experience to interact with other groups who had made it to the top.
Even though none of us was willing to, but we had to start descending. We were told that descend of Kalsubai is tougher. Unusual for a trek, Right?? That’s what we had thought, but remember, I had mentioned as to how lucky we were- we had a perfect weather which eased the whole journey to the base village. It took us just 2 hours to reach the base. It was easier than we thought. Or maybe it seemed to be easier as we were mentally prepared for the worst!! On reaching the base, we crossed a small tributary which was exactly same as we had crossed in the morning- so pure, serene, clean and calm. We freshened and cleaned ourselves up by the bank from the muddy rocks (that we encountered while descending), few insect bites and sweat.
“I consider this trek to be the most amazing one, as it taught me many things. First and foremost being, there is nothing as impossible as we think it MIGHT be. How wrong we are in doubting the journey, before even it has started. There is peace and calmness within each one of us which is pushed out only once we try reaching out for it. It’s more like, mountains have a way of dealing with confidence. After all, it feels good to be lost in the right direction.”
With the tanning we had, the chills that we felt, the bruises we got, insect bites we had, truckload of memories that we captured and with the experiences that we had, we started our journey back to Mumbai and here the amazing trek of Kalsubai ended – all happy and satisfied (read tired). It would be unfair if I don’t mention this- “Special thanks to the guy in our group, who made sure we safely complete this trek and for carrying the only bag pack (it was heavy )that we had planned to carry. It wouldn’t have been possible without you!! 🙂
After all, “It is not the mountains that we conquer, but ourselves”, Edmund Hillary says.
P.S : Throughout the trek, we had an ugly dog which followed us.