WHEN THE ROAD IS LOST
This was the highly awaited trek I was looking forward to, the 15th august 2004 trek. It was not because of the location that I was so eager about, but the fact that Independence Day was to be celebrated in a very unusual way and many people were going to be there (somewhat like a get together held every year). Give it a thought….u climb up a mountain in heavy rains and perform the flag hosting ceremony up at the top and sing anthems and patriotic songs…sounded good and so it was..
We started at Thursday night from VT station and boarded the last train to Karjat and reached somewhere in the midnight. After changing couple of red dabbas (buses) we arrived at BHAIRAVGAD( Near Bhandardara – Maharashtra). It wasn’t a tough one to climb but we were 30 (approx) so took some while (I generally never refer the watch so no clue of time). The day ended with Independence Day celebrations, hours and hours of loud singing and a bit of cooking.
Next day we were supposed to go to Ajoba followed to be next was Ghanchakkar (weird names I know). But destiny wanted to show something else…. begining with, we got up late and moreover we found that the jeep that we had hired which was going to take us to the Ajoba base (Kumshet) was used by some of our friends for going back to mumbai (very disappointing story don’t want to discuss).So we were stuck for quite a long time and were waiting for a vehicle to come. There was a school nearby, we dint find a single teacher but there were lots of childrens(very typical) and me and some of my friends sitting round in the middle of the road were trying to amuse them by some circus stuff followed by BALYA dance(folk dance) which was worse than the word ‘funny’. We arrived at Kumshet after an adventurous jeep ride (imagine 22 of us with all the luggage in a single 80’s model jeep driving through the muddy roads of the deserted ghat). We stayed in a school (a typical village school with one room, a blackboard and a socket for bulb with no electricity and an adjoining pantry). First time in my life I had NADI KE KINARE nahane kaa experience hehehe…wasn’t very pleasant. By this time I had learnt some bit of cooking, as I had become a part of kitchen department J. After a ‘not so tiring but lot of fun day’ the horrifying day was to come. As we were a day late we dropped the idea of Ghancakkar(fort) and went on with Ajoba. A local villager was there with us our guide. This man was really skinny old man, very poor, dint even have chappals. Looking at him one could make out how worse poverty is, felt bad… but this man was very amusing.. Whatever you ask him he would loyally nod his head (with no regards what the question is). He even had problem understanding Marathi. I have no idea who had hired him. We proceeded for Ajoba, after reaching half way, the way to get down had become very slippery due to the monsoon moss plus it was very steep and the rocks had become loose so we decided not to go along with this route and came back to Kumshet. After long debates and discussion with fellow members we asked the old man (one of the biggest mistakes) he gave us two options one route was tougher than the previous which was refused straight away and the other one was comparatively easy but a little longer (according to the old guy) obviously we had to take this one. It must have been 12 noon when we went ahead with our new route called as Sadhale Ghat. Sadhale means accomplished and surely at the end of trek we all said ‘SADHALE’. Till 5.00 evening we were walking through the farms continuously with no breaks. We had to reach mumbai by night any how otherwise my parents would have been worried(coz they jst knew i was going for a trek dint know where i was and with whom) so we had to walked with full energy level and empty stomach. At 5.00 we arrived at the base of sadhleghat and took a halt over there and guess what we had for feast raw rice flakes(pohe) and some guy had got one packet of farshan and it was shared among 22 of us. There was wind blowing carring away the the only rice flakes we had and it was quite a scene to watch us saving our meal. i somehow managed to gulp. After the delicious feast we started of for the ghat. After climbing a while we came across a deadly trench. We were at the top of the peak and we had to go down trough this trench, it was a scary sight. The weather started changing, thunders and then the rains somewhat hinted like its not going to be easy ahead. The rocks below our feet’s were very loose so we had to be very careful as to where to place the feet. Once so happened that I stepped on this sturdy looking somewhat big rock and it just slided down towards the ground along with couple of other rocks. Thankfully the guy behind me took hold of me and saved me. This incident daunted me and after that I dint utter a word to anybody. We all were walking like snails I was somewhere behind the group so dint have much idea as to what decision were taken to proceed ahead. The rains started becoming fierce. I could almost see the dark clouds running towards me and then dashing on my face as if showing its outrage. Crabs started coming out from their holes as it was getting dark. After a while we came across a small fountain. When I asked the old man how much more time he said one hour more(he was saying this since long time). The steepness of the trench grew and the land was mossy too so we had to use a rope to get down through the fountain. Rope need to be anchored but the rocks there were so loose that they were not sufficient enough to be used as an anchoring point so two of the guys (sameer and Ashish) tied the rope around their waists and sat down as anchors. The rains weren’t stopping and the small fountain looked like a gussying waterfall. Some of the guys were placed at certain patches that were a bit risky. And vikrant went up and down the waterfall to help us get down(he did a great job). Ladies first, Harshada first got down she is a water phobic person and was terribly scared. We were told to get down facing the rock and keeping steps as per the instructions of vikrant. Anil (our group leader) was standing at the top, monitoring the rappelling (with just a rope) session with only a shower cap on his head for protection against the rains. The atmosphere was very tense. By the time harshada started getting down she took hold of a rock which just came out in her hand and she screamed and pulled the rope giving a sudden jerk to ashish and sameer who were sleeping:-). Somehow she managed to get down the patch. She looked shit tensed her eyes were watery. Harshada was the oldest female trekker in our group and seeing her breakdown the other new girls had almost left hope of seeing civilization. Meanwhile we found a good rock to stand on. Almost 6 of us were standing on it and I was on one feet resting my back on the rock behind me on top of that Atharva (harshadas 10 yr old son) was standing on my feet as he had no place to stand. I was in this condition for more than an hour. Then my chance came to do the rappeling, now it was dark and the flow of water had increased and it speed too. I could hardly see the steps in the faint torchlight and somehow managed to get down the waterfall stamping many crabs(eeks…). It was 10.30 pm when all of them came down the waterfall patch. Now I was terrified, some of my friends were crying,some of them were singing courage building songs (funny i know) all of us were so tense and the rains dint stop. There wasn’t any open space where we could just sit and cook food, but the hunger thing was nowhere on anybodys mind, we were just thinking of survival. After that we were just walking and walking. My energy level was zero I had no idea which way we were heading I was just following the previous fellow. Later we could not even walk properly as we dint know where to step and the ground was very slippery and rocky so some of us just sat down and slowly slided downwards making use of hands to sense where it is slippery or where there is a rock and screaming out ‘Right se chalo left mein dari hein (valley)’ and then there was this stupid fellow asking ‘Tera right yaa mera Right’ felt like smaking him up , and whenever the march stopped I used to take up a small nap followed by somebody waking me up’ Chalo chale’. My butts were crying loud with pain. We continued this till three in midnight and finally got some open space to sleep . Everybody were fighting for some place. I got a small rock for myself barely I could sit on it. My bag was the cushion and in a very weird position I slept. The rains were still on and in full force I was trying to hide by face but later gave up the efforts and slept. Morning when we got up we found ourselves in a dense jungle(god knows how many animals and reptiles passed by but they were kind enough to understand we were not in a good position to be preyed), the rain had stopped. All of us were hungry so we were looking out for something left over in our sacks. We found cheese, maggi (raw) and sugar that’s it, this was our breakfast. It was 7 in the morning when we started again before all of us prayed together. The old man still kept saying one hour more, I guess he dint have any knowledge of time god knows which time standard he followed which was worse than IST. Now we came near to the plains but still were far from the civilization. At 11 we saw some farmers thought some village would be near finally we saw one at around one a clock called Vada. The villagers gave a room to change and a shade to rest. They even helped us getting a vehicle which left us to the highway where we got an std booth and I ringed up at home, my mom was almost weeping after all I was a day late. After a while we got a bus to mumbai and reached home at night. My cloths and shoes were torned, skin had begun to peel. So the horrifying trek ended here, it was so good to be back with my people. Never again I would like to be in such a situation but it was a very different experience that taught me few lessons for which I would be glad.