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WOWs: The Kodachadri Trekventure

Days after the trek I am waking upto a slow morning, an image of pure beauty flashes.  

Black rocks, lush dark green forest, water like silver falling incessantly on the rocks. As they meet, the water sculpts the rocks, and the rocks break the water into a dense mist that just hangs in the air. And through the mist is sunlight streaming through. Wherever it kisses the mist it leaves a trail of its presence for all to see.
This is the story of how I trekked to stand in this breath-taking place. I could tell you how the nine of us, the trekkers on this adventure, met and a chronological account of events, but where is the fun in that? Like all story tellers, let me start with my favourite bit.
It all ended when we got on to our respective buses and headed back to our cosy lives. Even as we said our goodbyes to each other, we were wondering when the next call of adventure would come. And the next day, as they sit at their desks staring at the monitors, for a moment they close their eyes, and they are transported back to this adventure that was. They visit their favourite moment and they smile as they open their eyes to the reality of the flickering monitor. Just a casual glance at the inbox for the next call.
On this adventure, there were nine of us. There is something amazing about that number 9. It’s the number of people apart from the driver that can fit into a rickety jeep, and still manage to reach the destination without falling off on the track. And tracks that seemed like dinosaurs had walked the mountain side, which driver casually dismissed as a good road. 9 is 3 sets of 3 girls for each tent. 9 is 4 pairs of paragliders, with one guard. Well, that is what it was, the perfect number for everything on this adventure, we loosely called a trek.
It started out innocently; even as we signed the indemnity bond we were thinking it would be just a climb here, a long walk there and some breath-taking wilderness. The bond, yes, the bond would have never prepared us for this. It lacked the phrase – “thou shall meet thy worst outdoor fear, and no animals will be harmed in this adventure”.
One thing you have to understand about Kodachadri is that it has this cloud of mist on it, in the mornings and the evenings. The mist that surrounds is actually the clouds that lay over the hills and blanket them as the hills sleep till the next sunrise. We decided to chase the sun and put the hills to sleep with the setting sun. 
This was the simple idea and with that we set out on our trek. It was an 8 km trek. We walked the country side, crops towering above our heads, fresh green plains of paddy that broke into the hills. Trees on both sides of the trail replaced the fields and the plains. All through the woods there were the funnel spiders, beautiful creatures. Soil here is red with patches of yellow like I have never seen before. The land has colour, everything is colourful and beautiful. Sun was rising and the trek left us parched. A small buttermilk stall, which also was a house that treated arca nuts was a welcome break.
After that small break, we set forth again and reached the spot that came in my dreams. After a pause here is when the real trek began. The terrain was unexpected, rocky at places, grassy at others. Dense forests gave away to the grasslands. The sun climbed and things got more adventurous. The grass lands were so steep, the trees standing on them seemed to be bent to us. Just to confirm you look away at the horizon and realize, its not the tree but the whole terrain we are standing on that is at a 60 degree slope.
We reached the peak of the first hill. After lunch here, we started the next leg of the trek. Sometimes you take the road less traveled, so instead of going over the next hill, we went around it. At this point I met my first fear, the fear of heights. This was easily an 80 degree slope with a path cut for a goat next to it. No trees no rocks around, just blades of dried grass on one side and the other had a steep fall, I would rather not describe. We got a generous drop to the temple at the Kodachadri hill’s temple. From here it was another 1.5 km trek. We raced against time to make it to the peak by sunset. At the top of this hill is a little temple. It is dedicated to the best trekker in India, Shankaracharya. Reaching here was like paying tribute to him as trekkers. He was 31 when he passed away, in the short life he had, he lived to trek. We sat where he sat and watched Kodachadri go to sleep.
We came down from the peak to the temple and watched the stars light up the night sky. The sky in the cities have just a few stars, here on the other hand, the constellations were also lost amongst the many stars. We discussed lighting bugs (I know what they are, but some people think they cause lighting) and many other interesting things about the sky here. We camped that night, probably first camp experience for most of us. 
The best adventures are always the ones with an element of surprise. Nothing gives as strong a surprise as not having it on the plan. We started the next day at the Kollur Mookambika temple. We got blessings from an elephant and a cow. When we got back to our tempo traveller, the seriousness of the day ended.
We set out for a whole new kind of adventure. And an adventure it was! We glided in the skies on parachutes manned without any controls, except the weight of the guide. He shifted his weight around to turn and sway the parachute. We were in the sky, with nothing but physics to guide us. I love physics, have faith in it, believe it completely. At this altitude though, no amount of physics and its explanations could have made me let go of the straps that tied me to the chute. I held on till my knuckles were white. Strangest thing is, all my life, I thought winds are turbulent. I was wrong. The wind is calm and amazing. Awesome! That is the word. It is awesome, because even though the straps were the only links holding me from plummeting down into water, somewhere I wanted to let go and fly. We landed. Just when my feet found the ground and got used to the 2-D space, I was crashing into the salty waves of the Arabian sea in water motorbikes at Malpe beach in Udupi. When I tried to steer the bike, it rode on water like snail with sneezing problem.
That was a topsy-turvy adventure.
On this adventure I also found my pilgrimage. On an island called St. Mary's, time is taking its own time to carve. It has rocks that look sculpted, but they are not. These were spewed up by volcanic activity long time ago. The edges are smoothed out, but the pores on these rocks tell the violent story of the volcano. The black colour of the rocks against the cream sand stand out against the green waters of the Arabian sea. On these rocks there are creatures, young corals that are opening their eyes. Slowly life will take over the bare rocks, and perhaps there is an underwater coral reef with multitude of fishes and other organisms, literally just under our feet. Yes, it is worth a pilgrimage, year after year, just to see if the corals have taken over from the sea yet.
So that was the Kodachadri Trekventure, an experience I am unlikely to forget for a long time to come.
PS: None of the photos are clicked by me. Credits go to the other 8.

Written By         : Shree Krishnamoorthy
Organized By     : Kiruba
Date of event    : 4th Jan, 2014
Members Count : 13 (13F)
Place                 : Shimoga
Pictures             : BTC FB Page
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