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The Language of Trekking

Well, People say any form of art, passion, or even hobby can be a language. From painting to music, form books to beer, when people with common int rests come together; no matter how different they are in race, belief or culture; they communicate, share and feel a sense of togetherness that’s natural, but still very rare. And if Kannada, Telagu, Malayalam, Tamil, Marathi, Gujarati, Oriya, Bengali, English, Hindi can all be a language, why not TREKKING??

With this one thing in common: the passion and interest of trekking: 20 people, speaking 9 different mother tongues, hailing from 8 states of India and 1 state of US, started for Madhugiri Fort. Comprising of a dozen 1st time trekkers (14 1st timers with BTC), the “Moderate to difficult” level trek was undertaken with such enthusiasm &zeal that these 20 might just ask the organizers to lower the difficulty level to a bare minimum.

Now, to begin the journey, we need to start somewhere, and what better place to start for a trek than the good old Shantala Silk House opposite KBS Terminal 3. People started coming in as early as 6:30 and by 7 o clock, we were short of some 2-3 people. We waited for another 20 minutes, and then the 19 of us, namely: Ajay, Anand, Agastiyan, Arvind, Pekun, Prabhakar, Murli,Vishnu, Hiren, Sibaka,Chandan, Jyothi, Vanati, Swetha, Manju, Priyanka, Lucy, Ankit (that’s me) & Mr. Organiser, Sangamesh; started on the mini towards Madhugiri. Siddharth joined us on the way, completing the team of The Terrific Twenty.

The introductions and acquaintances continued from the bus stand to the bus and there was a buzz in the mini, filling it with lots of distinct tones. As the chit chat got subdued, I tried to doze off, going by what I had read about this place. But destiny (Read: Swetha & Vanathi, sitting right behind me) had other plans for me. Even before we crossed Yeshwanthpur, I had learnt more of Montessori education than the education minister himself. And by the time we reached dabbaspet, I had sworn I’d consult them before putting my kids into Montessori. But then, you can’t blame 2 school friends getting along after a long time, away from the city, their daily routine lives. Though I’m still eager to learn about the “Magic Box” thing they kept bringing up in their conversation.
The halt was at Dabbaspet, where all had the a heavy heavy breakfast of idly-vada followed by Tea at the BTC regular spot and headed back to the bus with our lunch packets in hand. Now that we all knew each other, I thought I could finally doze off. But when things are not to be, they are not to be. The Kannada Music playing in the bus seemed mandatory for the driver to do his job and hence I got the feeling that sleep wasn’t my piece of cake on this trip. Good for me though, because however tired or sleep deprived you are, you miss a minute on such journeys, you regret it for a lifetime. Happy I didn’t.

The bus neared Madhugiri Fort at around 11:00 a.m. On first look, it seemed no more than a small hillock topped by a watch tower. Most of us were indeed happy to feel that it wasn’t gonna be that difficult a trek. Good for us, at least the start was nice and smooth. Standing at the foothills of Madhugiri Fort, We got along with the customary introduction session over a bottle of slice. Since we were already acquainted with each other, the most important info we got was the hand of internet in publicizing BTC. Almost 80% of the people on the group came to know of BTC from the internet and joined in. Then came a very supporting and energizing lecture from Organiser, Sangamesh , about the dos and don’ts, keeping in mind the difficulty level of the trek and the experience of his team. He asked us to move at our own pace and not hurry along. Not to worry because someone would always be with you all the time. 
With these words in mind, food in bags, all our strength in the legs and the enthusiasm of trekking in hearts, we head out to flag Madhugiri Fort once again for BTC. Not very long after we started, the group had split in 2-3 parts. The Troupe was headed by Lucy, Hiren & Siddharth moving at what we called lightning speed, followed by 2 split groups closely following, sometimes overtaking each other. Barring the safety issues, Sangamesh let people have their own way, since it was the best way for people to do what they came to do, Enjoy. It’s here that we realized that trekking has a different meaning for everyone. Lucy on one hand was there to explore places; for Swetha and Vanathi on the other hand, it was a day off for old buddies. The likes of Sangamesh& Prabhakar have a passion to trek and the strength to shoulder responsibilities, as for people like me, we just go out there, meet new people, jump around and have unlimited fun. So it seemed fair that we headed to the top most point of the peak in our own rythm.

The trek started becoming a bit difficult once we reached the railings. Most of us were taken aback by the very fact that railing were put up for people to climb (read clamber) up and we decided to sit down at that very point and rest a bit before facing the harsh world of railings, steep rocks and a scorching sun. Climbing the railings was closely monitored by the experienced trekkers till everyone had a grip on how to go along. It wasn’t an easy trek and I heard Ajay murmuring: “and they said it’s a MODETARE difficulty.” The photographers, Ajay, Sibaka & Prabhakar, carried the brick size cameras in hand and did a herculean job of going Click-Click at every moment they (or others) seemed worthy of capturing. They did make sure I have no dearth of pics to relate to my blog when I write. Thanks Guys.
With the railings never ending, the rest sessions became mandatory at the end of every stretch. While resting, everyone brought out something or the other form their bags and we munched on chocolates, dates, sipped water and got along with the next part. These sessions had the best of people and brought some priceless expressions on many faces which indeed will send people laughing for many days to come.
Though she did it with great enthusiasm and breathtaking strength, it was always fun to say: “Chalo Chalo.. enough rest” the moment Priyanka arrived. This was all it took to change her tired expressions to those of an angry, frowning lady who would run after her tormentor and throw him off the cliff. She then gave Sangamesh and Me the “im gonna kill ya” look and we would move along till our next chance to torment her. Moving on, we came across stretches of bare rock. With nothing to hold on to, the cuts made in the rocks by rain water washing over them for centuries were the only resort to grip and walk along. It was here that some of us got stuck in the middle of nowhere and had to be rescued to go on. When people were having a tough time on these rocks, Jyothi, the bird in pink, seemed to have devised her own way of Trekking. She would head out alone while the others were resting and then came her 3 steps of trekking: 
Soon enough we experienced what we read in the blogs. The peak of Madhugiri is more than just a hilltop. It’s a mirage. The point you think is the summit is only the summit till you reach there to discover that you were wrong, it’s farther up.
This happened around 5 times. And when we were actually on the peak, I asked Hiren: “This is it, right? Don’t tell me there’s more.” The view from the top was, as expected, breathtaking.  
As the group trickled in, they were congratulated by Lucy, Hiren & Siddharth at the doorway of the fort on successful completion of half of the trek. As People got busy with exploring the ruins of the fort, I got busy in my own world: Reaching the farthest point (safe, ofcourse) visible and just standing there. Rightly enough was named the white monkey since I’d sit on top of the huge rocks under whose shade others preferred to rest. As everyone gathered around for the group pics, Priyanka finally got flat ground to chase me down and beat the hell out of me.
The Photographers we had here were perfectionists. Ajay and Sibaka gave poses from the high up shooting to the lie down rifle pose to get that perfect shot. The photo sessions gave way to the lunch. The meticulous planning by  Organizer made sure there were no hiccups during lunch since he had brought curd to help with the rice and vada.
Post lunch and some chatting over oranges, we started with the descend. The mini groups formed while the ascend continued almost in the same fashion. And we walked, hopped, jumped, skid, slip our way to the foothill. Apart from the non-stop chattering and helpin others, the few incidents worth a mention were the moment when Manju, Jyothi, Himansu and me came from the behind a wall and scared the hell out of Priyanka. As a result, I (Mahisasur) was literally murdered by Priyanka(Durga Devi) at one of the old temples. A few more group pics were taken on the way back. 
We reached the foothills at around 4:30 p.m. where everyone had an enigmatic smile on their faces and a sense of achievement in their hearts. It’s not every day that you flag the second largest monolith in Asia. Though the trek was over but he aura remained. We climbed onto the bus and head out to a spot for the feedback session over a glass of fresh lime. Won’t say much about the feedback, it’s visible in the eyes of the people while giving the feedback. Here, take a look:
With these memories, we head out our ways after reaching the spot where we started. Though most memories were captured by the sharp shooters on the gang, the most memorable moment of all for me would be seeing Swetha & Vanathi cheer each other like school girls and say: “yess, we did it” on the foothpath near Orion mall. Hence the good byes were said, with a lot of memories, a smiling face, aching legs and a promise, to keep trekking, so that someday, we might meet again to be together, be bonded by the one common thing: The language of trekking.

Trekking with a bunch of strangers was definitely not my cup of tea till now, but 2nd Feb changed all of it. I couldn’t possibly pen down the fun I had with a bunch of strangers that once I dreaded to trek along. This small outing definitely changed my insights on a lot of perceptions that I made on assumptions in my life. Well like someone said “Change is the only thing that’s constant” and this change is definitely most welcoming. 

After being a part of BTC group for almost a year it was definitely a shame on not being part of even one trek till today. I had to change this part of mine and take that one step forward to participate in one of the treks that would be the ice breaker. After constant debate with my conscience to join a trek atleast once, I juggled through my options every week right from the Karwar trek to Nandi hills to Shivagange, finally deciding to put forth my name for Madhugiri trek, and BINGO, Madhugiri won the lot. Even after nominating myself for this trek, I was having double thoughts on weather I should go ahead with this trek or withdrew my name till the very last moment. Glad I didn’t do any such dramas to backout.

How to I start to explain my amazing experience, I could go on and on and on about this trek and one can just get exhausted reading them. So I would try to keep it short and simple  so, here goes my gaga about my trek. Let me start with Sangamesh, our organizer who arranged this trek very smoothly without any issues. Well, for an organizer, I could say he was the sweetest person, a  very calm and patient guy, who constantly picked our calls at nights (on 1st Feb one day prior to the trek) and reassured us that we could do this trek. We were supposed to be in majestic by 6.45 in the morning and leave to Madhugiri by 7. Almost all the trekkers were in majestic by 7 except me, yeah I know that’s quite unimpressive, but believe me I am usually not a unpunctual person, but as fate decided I was late that day not by a mere 5 or 10 min but I was 40 min off the grid, so let me first apologize to each one for being late and a word that this wont happen again. So, back on track, about Sangamesh, I thought he might leave me and go ahead with the trek, but, like I said, he was definitely nice to me on that context, and so was the other folks who didn’t crib about me being late. GLAD!!

Once I reached the pre-decided place for meet up, I hopped into the bus and quietly went and sat in one of the free seats. I met Vanati and her school friend Swetha, two school buddies, who had so much to share with each other, that I let them be in there own world. Next I met Priyanka, and chit chatted with her till we reached Madhugiri, and as amazed I am now priyanka turned out to be the most famous person in the trek. I met Lucy next, an American, she was awesome at trekking, one of the three folks who reached the top of the fort when we were just half way to the top :D 

We reached Dabaspet, had our breakfast at one of the mess joint, packed our lunch and left to the destination. Once we reached Madhugiri, we had a formal introduction with everyone and then started out trek to reach the fort, a walk that was 4 km away. When I first saw the path we had to trek and the height of the fort, I thought it was a baby’s walk to me, gosh, wasn’t I wrong, it took every bit of energy in my system to reach the top. First 15 min I walked with an attitude that, I would reach the top in half an hour without any issues, but reality struck me after 15 min when I was panting so bad that every 5th step I make I was forced to rest for atleast 5 min to catch my breathe. To be frank, I was glad my stamina wasn’t that great, coz once I knew I cant reach the top by continuously walking, I decided to stick with my group and follow there strategy of walking for few min and then resting for few minutes. This cycle worked perfectly for me, there was a scream of encouragement when you doubt yourself if you could make it to the top, there were atleast 4 pairs of hand that comes forward when you are stuck at a particular place, there were atleast a dozen of food items to eat and energize oneself, there were times when we had fun pulling each others leg especially Priyanka’s . I, Ankit and Jyothi had so much fun together I couldn’t say I met them for the first time. Prabhakar was constantly encouraging me to pursue my fantasy in cycling along with Jyothi, Vishnu was always silent, Priyanka always giving witty looks to Sangamesh and Ankit. 

Chit-chatting, posing for photos, acting like monkeys by climibing over walls or huge stones we finally made it to the top in couple of hours. We spend sometime up on the fort, had our lunch, took more than a zillion photos and the finally started descending. I thought ascending would be a difficult task than descending, oh boy, wasn’t I wrong again, ascending the rocks just caused panting effect, but descending was more gruesome, it’s a really challenge to your legs especially your thighs and ankles, and believe me I am still in pain, while I write this blog, my leg rest over my CPU and scream at every inch I move.

Nevertheless, the pain or the panting, nothing stopped me from enjoying this trek. I am glad I was part of this trek and I am looking forward to many more treks with BTC in future. Thanks to our amazing 3 photographers who were so enthusiastic to clicks snaps and we were always ready to pose ;) 

For now, its me Manju signing out. Bye-bye.

Written By        : Ankit Maheswari & Manju Shivdasan
Organized By    : Sangmesh
Date of event    : 2nd Feb, 2014
Members Count : 20
Place                : Madhugiri
Pictures            : BTC FB Page

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