04:30 Hrs in the morning and we’ve still got about four more hills to cross to complete the trek. The destination in the form of an Indicator tower seemed to be farther , the closer we approach it.
Damn! It was a pathetic mistake; To underestimate the trek, to decide to trek off season and more so to drag people who’ve hesitated to walk even a couple of kilometers during normal days! The Katraj – Sinhgad trek is supposed to be a cakewalk. At least, That’s the impression I’d got when I first heard about it from a few people who’d been there already. I always do some ground work before going for a trek to any place. I didn’t care to do it this time for no apparent reason! How I wish I did!
Adi was really particular that we have a fast lunch here at Mac’D. Ayush joins us after his regular TIME class. The temperature’s soaring and the brief respite that we have here is real enthu booster. After a light snack Ayush and I decide to move over to Orange province at Jagtha Diary where the rest of the gang stays. Adi decides to get back home and catch a good sleep. He had to! Tonight would be his first ever trek.
The moment we reach the place, I slowly bring in the trek idea for which I’d sent in a mail a few days earlier. Finally after an hours coaxing all but Sarfu take the bait . The ‘Girl factor’ did the trick ! Anmol decides to join us after his classes at 20:30 hrs. Moments before we leave for Aundh to reach the common meeting point , a small issue rises in Orange Province and most of them were compelled to stay back. Animesh, Tiwari and Kamran drop their plans. Anmol quite oblivious of what’s cooking back there is fortunately still hooked with the trek. Finally it’s just the four of us – Adi, Ayush, Anmol and I.
Ayush and I reach Breman circle at about 20:10hrs and get some Burgers and light snacks parcelled. Adi and Anmol soon catch up with us at about 20:45hrs. We had to reach the Gharware College at Deccan. This was about 6kms from Aundh and with the traffic we manage to reach at about 21:20 hrs . A whole twenty minutes late! Varun, one of the organizers directs us to the place where the rest of the team were waiting for us. Boy, you should have seen the expression of our faces when we realised we were to travel in an open truck to reach the Base start point -Old Katraj tunnel. Not that we’ve not traveled in trucks before during our engineering, but we were frankly expecting a decent Bus! Anyway , all of us – about 30 folks jump into the truck and manage to reach the base by around 22:30 hrs. The group majorly comprised of Engg. students , about seven kids, A couple and about Five girls.
Just as in any trek, At the base we were divided into a couple of groups and each group was given a trek lead. The directions were pretty simple. Take a left a bit ahead , walk along the path then walk around the Transmission tower ( Or whatever that was ) and then just keep walking further till you find a Tower with the red light blinking. Well that’s the tower at Singhad. For about half a kilometer we didn’t find sight of the red light and finally when we did, we realised what was ahead – About eight huge hills to traverse !!
The first hill was the best! The climate was pretty cool and the chilled wind blowing through the face was pretty much invigorating. But then trekking is not just about enjoying nature as if you have all the time in the world. It’s more about reaching the destination in the pre-set time.
April – 20th
We kept moving ahead and soon it was time to get down the hill! Phew that was steep! real steep! We moved hesitatingly downwards and this by itself took us about half an hour. At the base, we had Suhas to remind us that we had only seven more hills to cover! We moved, ran , rested, hiked, howled, teased around and finally reached the place where we decided to break. A soup was on the way . Taste mattered the least here! Half an hour of break after covering about three hills and most of the folks were already down. I’m sure Adi was pledging to screw me royally once we were back home! All i could read from his mind was that Hell seemed quite close atop that Hill!
We leave from that place at about 04:30 hrs and someone again reminded just five more hills to traverse to reach the destination! The hill after that was done quickly and then started the real fun. Energy levels were real down and we didn’t even have water! Down slopes were steep and the pebbles there made things more difficult. Adi couldn’t get down the slope anymore. His phobia of heights loomed in again! He literally started scraping his ass on the slopes. His weight made things worse. The pace was miserably slow. We were the last few in the group. We were mid way and there was no turning back.There was no one to blame but me! I shouldn’t have got them to the trek in the first place. In fact at times i was wondering if they’ll even make it to the destination in one piece! Boy, Adi was miserably down.
We saw the sunrise in one of the intermediate hills and kept inching towards the final hill. Adi soon had company. Hemant just couldn’t move his legs. All our massages and motivations were just not working ! At about 08:00 hrs we had a glimpse of the road. As Anmol rightly put it – the road to Salvation! Just two more hills to go and that meant two more miserably painful downhill traversal for Adi. The Sun was adding fuel to fire! Hemant fell flat at the last hill. He had no energy to move further. Varun and Ankul managed to arrange some water . Sanjay gave him a proper massage and suggested we keep moving. They stayed back for a few more minutes. The moment we reached atop the last hill, I was more than elated! They’d made it! All were in one piece but for bruises here and there.
The moment we reached the destination there were a couple of folks supplying water . Man! Water never tasted that sweet till date! We had some Poha and jumped into the truck. The way back was another pain. Hot sun looming over our heads and we had literally no energy even to talk. Reached Aundh at around 11:30 hrs. Gulped four glasses of lemon juice, about two liters of water, four oranges and two apples! Had a well deserved bath and hit the bed only to get up after a solid seven hour sleep!
What was supposed to be a Moonlight trek turned out to be a nightmare with the Sun high above us. The Katraj – Sinhgad trek is something that I’d never forget and I’m sure neither Anmol nor Adi would even venture for another trek with me!