Srikanth Perinkulam

Menu Close

Category: Adventure / Travel (page 2 of 5)

The sky captain’s school

As we enter Lugazi on route A109 towards Jinja, Google Maps suggests we take an unpaved dirt road on the left. The red slushy path meanders through small shops and houses and an eerie sense of awareness creeps in as villagers notice the Toyota Rav4 rolling into their ‘area’. I read last night that the 10km stretch to the Griffin falls camp area would be dirt roads winding through sugar-cane plantations. Last night’s rain and the incessant drizzle seem to have worsened the roads. Thankfully, the Rav4 handled the conditions insanely well.

A few kilometers in, direction signs to the camp lead us to the camp site. Looks like we’re the only two folks who’d be zip-lining today. Setup by Aaron Blanchard a US Peace Corps volunteer in 2014, the Mabira forest canopy super skyway is a phenomenal way to explore one of Central Uganda’s rainforests. After a short 15 minute walk in the woods from the campsite, the ‘Sky Captains’ guide you up a ~40 ft tree from where you zip-line across the forest on five zips with the last one being a controlled repel between two 115 foot trees across the river Musamya. I’ve zip-lined a few times before, but never in a forest this high. Richard and Gerald – Our Sky captains did a terrific job showing us around and securely navigating us on the trees. Once off the zip system, Gerald led us to Griffin falls and then back to the campsite.

River Musamya is heavily polluted by the Sugar factories upstream. Mabira forest by itself is on the cusp of heavy deforestation. The Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL) – Jointly owned by the Government of Uganda and The Mehta Group apparently planned to clear one-third of the forest area to create sugarcane plantations in 2007. With resistance from local non-profits and environment groups the government is seemingly caving in. Very recently, it announced to buy-out the mabira forest residents. With all things environmental, politics and business we’d never really know where this balance is going to tilt.

On our way back, a guy from a village asked us to pull-over and checked if we could give him a ride to Lugazi. We were neutral but politely said we couldn’t. One of those times where you never really know what’s the right thing to do in a foreign place…Also, there apparently has been an underlying racial tension against Asians here since the Mehta group is an Indian firm and the Chinese too do seem to have a strong presence in the Sugar business.

On the drive back to Kampala, It struck me why I really like travelling or doing things outdoors. It’s just not about the activity that you end up doing, It’s the broader awareness that you get when you’re exposed to the framework that has led to the creation of that event.

WFA Certified

Over the last 12 or so years that I’ve been hiking now, I’ve learnt a ton from my goof-ups. I believe in taking calculated risks and am reasonably okay with ‘winging’ a hike as long as I have the right gear and know what the game-plan is. Still, every hike that I’ve been on and the deeper I’ve been into the wilderness, I’ve always pondered what would happen if either me or someone in the group needed medical attention.

Last year, I joined the REI co-op and the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) and through them heard about a slew of courses one could take part in to be better prepared while out there in the wilderness. The first-aid course did get my attention. One of those things that I’ve been wanting to do for quite sometime now but never got around taking the time and effort to work on.

Well, not anymore! Early this month I attended a wilderness first-aid (WFA) certification course organized by NOLS. It was a short yet extremely insightful course on responding to different situations one might encounter while deep in the wilderness. The course was more aligned to situational leadership and had several elements on training your mind to work on a methodical and well thought through set of actions [The SOAP (Subjective, Objective, Assessment and Plan) approach apparently pretty commonly used in the medical field]. We were also introduced to regular first-aid skills for patient care and some basic wilderness survival do’s and dont’s.

With day long sessions and several practical scenario try-outs this was one long rewarding weekend. I’ll need to make sure I practice those skills intermittently just so I don’t forget them. To delve deeper, I’ll possibly sign up for the Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course sometime later this year. Winter is almost on its way out and I eagerly look forward to spring and summer to get some good long hikes in this year!

No morning blues!

Decided to come over to Florida for the long weekend. On of those slightly impromptu plans. This visit was long overdue. Been here at Aparna’s place a few time before over the last five years. But then it’s mostly been for a celebration or event, when the family is already pre-occupied with arrangements and everything that comes with having people over. This trip was just to spend some time with them when everyone has some ‘down-time’. It’s already been three days’ in and we’d have to head back tomorrow. At times you just wished you lived closer and/or together.

Went to Silver Springs State Park for some Kayaking with Raaghav and Divyaa. Ended up doing two loops (about 5ish miles) of the Fort King Paddling trail downstream and the Silver river upstream for about two hours. These springs had some mesmerizing crystal clear water! Once back home I crashed on the couch only to wake up after a sound sleep few hours later.

Yesterday we drove over to Daytona and Ormond Beach. Just about an hour from home. Pretty foggy weather as we drove into the city which eventually cleared out in a bit. Dhruv absolutely enjoyed playing around on the sand. Lunch at Mille’s and we head back home later in the evening. Quite some traffic right outside Daytona racetrack thanks to Daytona500.

Early today morning Divyaa joined us for another kayaking bout in Rainbow Springs. Today’s two hour session was much more demanding. Maneuvering the kayak in the waters was pretty taxing upstream. Let’s call that painful fun! I’d probably rate this second to the Silver springs experience. From here we head to Sholom Park for a nice stroll and head back home.

Tomorrow we head back to the colder frontiers!

Anthem!

Having heard about it way back in 2015 during a serendipitous visit to the campus, we were pretty excited to be here. With autumn just kicking in and absolutely no traffic, the drive up north from Boston should have been a cue to what the night had in store for us. As dusk set in and the temperatures dropped, the lamps already laid out on the Dartmouth Greens were lit. The National Anthem from the bell tower was a pleasant surprise. Darkness, fire, light and celebrations. Today was just so magical!

Cunningham falls

Nik turns 10 and we decided to spend the day outdoors. Head to Cunningham falls for a hike instead of Shenandoah. The falls by itself wasn’t any impressive. Took less than 30 minutes to reach the tiny cascade standing all of probably 80ft. Was expecting Maryland’s highest falls to be much higher than this!

Looped back to the parking lot on a slightly longer trail. Miss shey totally killed it! This 2 year old hiked the whole stretch with absolutely no complaints!

Rented a canoe because why not? Nancy fluttered in the front while Nik and I paddled the canoe for about 30 minutes. First time ever handling a canoe in a large water body. Felt eerily good! Should take to the waters more frequently…

 

Return visit

Seward Johnson’s – Return visit

A quick weekend trip to Chicago to meet Neeraj and Kanu. Took this opportunity to explore Chicago a bit.

Chicago downtown felt like an eclectic mix of Boston and NYC. Spent some time walking around the city on Saturday covering the regular spots leading up to Navy pier and back. Totally mesmerized by the greenish-blue waters of Lake Michigan! Headed over to Native foods cafe (finally!) for dinner. Elizabeth joins us and later we decide to head to Hopewell Brewing company. Grab some drinks and dive into some interesting board games with live music in the background. Played a slew of bananagram rounds and decide to head back to the hotel.

Plans to bike the Lake shore trail on Sunday fell through because of the Triathlon. Oh well! Decide to head up the Willis Tower. Not quite impressed. Head over to Chiya Chai for lunch. Absolutely blown over by the food! I’m sure we’ll be back here during our next visit. Packed some food for the flight back to Boston and we’re home by 9ish.

So glad we could make this trip. Some real good time catching up with Neeraj and Kanu after five long years. Time flies!

Ferry crossing beach State Park

Torn between the Baldface trail and the Ferry crossing beach State Park, we decided to head to the latter. Proximity to water made it an easy decision. A short 2 hour drive from home and we reached the state park around 09:00am.

The trails turned out to be much shorter than anticipated. Covered the whole state park in about an hour. Pretty well maintained. Humid conditions were a great recipe for the bugs though! Having covered the trails we head out to the beach. Pretty calm with just the morning walkers.

Spent a few minutes here and we decide to head back to the car. Since it was only around 10:30, the restless me offered to drive to the White Mountains to hike the Falling waters trail. Would have  been a splendid choice but for the drive time. We had to head west for about two hours, and then another two hours south to head home. Decided against it and navigated to Green Elephant for lunch. Splendid food, as always!

As we decide to head home, David responds to a text I sent earlier in the day. Checks if we would be interested in a ‘breath session, followed by Sauna and Jacuzzi’ meet. Only he could come up with something like this! We instantaneously take up the offer and decide to meet at the Regency hotel in Portland. With about a couple of hours to kill we decide to head to the East End beach. As we’re walking by the East end promenade, we notice a bunch of kayakers heading to a fort. One look at Miss Me and she understands what’s reeling in my mind. We head to the boat rentals and check if we could rent a kayak. Figuring we didn’t have much time we book a sunset tour at 05:30pm instead. Spend the remaining hour just sitting by the water.

Zoom in and you’d notice this grand old man kayaking in an inflatable. Was a treat to see his wobbly body pivot into the boat, losing and eventually gaining balance. As he slowly head into the waters, the satisfaction of avoiding a flip brimming in his eyes, gets etched into my memory. Freedom.

It’s 14:00 hrs. We decide to head to the hotel to meet David. He’s right in time. Apparently this is his daily regimen. Works out in his Gym and fits this in before he heads back for another workout. We head straight to the Jacuzzi, then the Sauna followed by a cold shower and then repeat it thrice all over. The hot-cold shocks apparently flushes the body and the mind. I’m jealous he gets to do this EVERYDAY! It’s always so inspiring talking to David. Totally one of a kind! A quick stop at a gelato place and we head back to the East end promenade just in time for the Sunset tour.

We have a decently big group. Henry, our guide does a wonderful job showing us around. He’s moved all the way from Wyoming for his bachelors in economy and arts. Apparently got into Kayaking a few months back to make some income while he works on setting up an art studio with a few other friends.

Looped around these awesome Osprey nests and head back towards the start point for some sunset views.

Back on land, Henry suggests we visit Kettle Cove, Mackworth Island and Morse Mountain if we end up in this area some point in time. Given today’s experience, It’s highly likely we will get back here pretty soon. We head back to Portland downtown and decide to dine at Boda, Green Elephant’s sister restaurant. Oh so very Thai and delicious! Two hours down southish and we’re home.

Talk about being impromptu!

Placid Mt. Washington

It felt like we climbed up a beast deep in slumber and got down much before it even realized anything. All that I had visualized about this supposedly treacherous hike was flipped all over. Most likely due to the weather, which was was way too perfect! It actually made it feel much easier than the Franconia Ridge trail hike we did last weekend!

Reached the trailhead and started the hike promptly at 07:00am on Saturday. Hiked up the Ammonoosuc ravine trail that slowly winds up by the Ammonoosuc river.

Within about an hour we were at the Gem pool.

Pretty much beyond this point, the trail gains considerable elevation and finally lands you on the AMC lakes of the clouds hut.

Some points on this stretch were a bit tricky but nothing too demanding. Rain or fog would probably make this a bit challenging.

With the sun shining pretty bright and almost no winds all through, the climb was more of a mildly intense workout than anything else.

The summit is visible on the left as you climb up to the hut.

A quick stop at the hut for some tailwind shots and sandwich pops and we hit the 1.4 mile Crawford path to summit Mt. Washington.

A bold warning sign warns of the inclement weather up on the summit. However, today’s weather makes it a no-brainer to surge forward. The wobbly rocks make it a bit tricky. We reach the summit at around noon and spend about an hour up there.

With the weather being pretty good the Cog rail was flooding the peak with quite a few folks.We soon start making our descent.

The Gulfside trail which leads up to Mt. Jefferson (which we decide not to summit today) crosses the Cog rail line that goes all the way down to the Marshfield station.

As we descend we come across quite a few rail coaches that are sluggishly making their way up and down the line. Makes for a fun distraction as you try and find food placement on the stone riddled path.

Pretty soon we hit the Jewell trail which would eventually get us off the ‘ridge line’, back into the woods and finally down to the parking lot.

With infrequent stops we close out the loop at around 04:00pm. The Jewell trail ends across the parking lot, right off the Base Station road.

9.5 miles in 8+ hours with an elevation gain of about 3500 ft. Not too bad. Given the weather conditions and our pace, I believe we could have easily covered both Mt. Monroe and Mt. Jefferson. Totally calls for a revisit again later this year.

Flying 31 with the reindeer

PC&JC gifted Miss Me, little L and me a soaring gift for our birthdays. Four minutes of controlled flight ‘flew’ by incredibly fast. Calls for a return for some more certification dives soon and no, the solid whack at the end was not planned.

Appalachians next!

Ragnar

Couldn’t have ended September on a better note! Pounding the hilly terrain in the Adirondacks for 36 hrs, straight through the night with 9 other folks – This has been my best run so far. Though technically that’s a lot of time for 197 miles, I guess it’s the nuances of the event that really gives you the extra kick.

Read more

Fort Lee Run

MIXED

Todays’ morning 7 miler took me over the GWB to Fort Lee. Wonderful surprise right in the backyard! Just a couple of miles from the house, yet it took me about 1.2 years to do this. Wonder why! Interestingly, there were barely any people here 7am in the morning. Probably because of the Weekday?

Time to get the bikes down here and drive up to the Palisades!

Adirondacks it is!

Adirondacks it is

Nothing to beat a great recovery run. Adirondacks 2014 it is!

Meeting Paul | Swinburne

Yesterday morning, we didn’t quite know what was in store for us. Working towards better utilizing our weekends and trying to visit the lesser known areas of New York; Meena found a great deal for a four hour cruise on Groupon. We were supposed to reach Riis Landing in Queens by 02:30pm. A snow storm was predicted later in the day and we weren’t quite sure if the cruise would happen. However with no change in plans reported from the organizers, we left home for the 1.5hr commute to Riis.

But for a couple of missed connections, we were well in time for the cruise. On the way and just before we left Riss landing, we happened to meet quite a few interesting folks from Mercy’s college. Only later would we know that this particular cruise was possible because this online cohort of the teachers college was meeting for an assignment to study the water quality and the American Princess, the team that organizes these tours in the Atlantic was facilitating their work.

Read more

Depths of darkness

There is something just so mystic about wandering in the darkness and into the woods. The intermittent gusts of chilled wind, the shadows of  the branches meandering round the corner,  the winding trail that leads to yet another destination, the high rising hills exacerbating the vastness of the valley ahead, the rustle of the leaves hinting the plausible presence of the rightful owner of the land and the distant sound of a wild animal reclaiming his territory – all accentuated by the spell of darkness.

The ‘manipulated’ side wants to be teleported to the comfort of the bed while the wild side seeks to explore the silence behind the silence and the depth of the darkness. As the equilibrium shuttles, the brain succumbs to the calls – not to give in but probably to re-establish that some situations remain best undefined.

Once in a while, a relaxed walk in the woods in darkness is probably what is all that is required to set things straight.

Saurkundi Pass Hike

20 MAY 2011