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BTC Initiative : Skandagiri Clean up Drive

Skandagiri is closed for trekking due to security reasons (banned for 6 months now)
Distance from Bengaluru - Chikkballapur (56 Kms) - Kalwara (4 Kms)
Mode of Transportation - KSRTC has frequent buses
Co-ordinates - 13.4175° N, 77.6828° E
Nearest Village - Kalwara (On the way to Muddenahalli from Chikkballapur)
Trek distance - 12 Kms
Starting Point - Papagni Mutta
Mountain Height - 1350 Mts
Time taken - 3 hrs (Uphill) ; 1 hr (Downhill)
Bangalore Trekking Club hosted their second ECO drive - Skandagiri clean up drive on 7th February 2016. Special permission from the police and forest department were obtained before conducted the event since the area is not accessible for general public due to security reasons.
Bangalore Trekking Club in short known as BTC was incroprated by two energetic trek freaks 'Virander Sirohi' & 'Chaitanya Kumar Adusumilli', passionate bikers & nature admirers. BTC was founded in 2013 hoping to make way for people such a themselves by giving a chance to explore the unrideen trails which they term it "BTC way". 
Being a trekking enthusiast myself, I have tried associating myself with may trek groups and companies. Each time something is missing. Being a lone traveler, I enjoy meeting new people (like minds as crazy as me) and a grand feeling of belonging to a community. So far all the groups I have trekked, traveled, explored with have lacked in making me feel so. I have  been following BTC group on Facebook for a long time and when I received a mail saying they were conducting a eco drive, it was a good time for me to explore if we would both compliment each other. So the next thing I did was write to Viren (one of the Founders), generated my BTC id number, saved the event in my calender with reminder. 
The sunday sun was just cracking the window sill when I got ready for my early yoga session only to reliase I had a BTC event waiting for me. I was running late, had to get out of my house right now if not I would be banned from attending any BTC event for the next 3 months, yes you heard me right! They are very perticular with their guidelines, may be why I decided to turn up even when it was a free event (no registration fee crap). I managed to find a rickshaw who gushed through the morning empty streets of Bengaluru and man! I could feel the chills spreading through my spines. I reached the KSRTC bust terminal, fingers crossed to still find the BTC team (well ya they don't wait for late comers, u'd just have to find your way till base or go back to your sweet sunday nap).
We took a 7 AM Rajahamsa bus to Chikkaballapur (neareast town) I dozed off immediately and when I got up we were entering the town. Only later did a fellow trekkie sitting next to me told me what a slog the driver was. He had taken 30 Min more than usual time. Well I guess this is what happens with late work hours, the world leaves you behind and you are stuck in a hibernation mode. So here I was hoping to cut that wall for me. We also managed to find a bus to Kalwara (nearest village to base camp). Most of the buses going to Muddenahalli would take this route (for those of whom this sounds alien, its Sri M Visweswaraiah's birth place).
Most of the BTC organisers and founders had reached there by 7 AM (after getting the breakfast/lunch/snacks packed for us on the way) and few had already left for the activity. Man were we behind! So did the sun not spare us. We had our breakfast barely  escaping the on and off attacks by our monkey friends and left for the trail.
So all of us were grouped into 5 teams, team 1 would be responsible for cleaning the peak; team 2 bada pattar area, team 3 the first fort area, team 4 right below them and team 5 the base. So I was in team 4, we actually managed to collect 8 bags of waste. Very interesting that we were not alone. So the monkey friends who threatned us with food, actually did snatch away one our waste bags while we were resting a bit. Well yeah! that did not help us did they now? We could not manage to go into the bushes to pick all the waste again but still got hold of some of it. We reached the base camp, put down our bags, rested a bit, had our packed lunch (chitranna with curd) and were waiting for the other 3 teams to join us.

While so, some of us decided to reach the peak and give the other team a helping hand. We started trekking at about 2 PM and managed to reach just! (damn the time) and had to turn back. Well we did reach for the first peak fort tough. A helping hand mattered more than reacing the peak, we had to set our priorities here and we did. It took us an hour down hill with a bag of waste in our hand. While we reached the base camp, other BTCians waited for us. We were welcomed with "maaza & sweet cake". That was the tastiest snack I had ever had! (yes while you are hungry everything sounds tasty - coz I don't have a sweet tooth).
There is an age old saying in kannada "Kai Kesaradare, Baiy Mosaru' (meaning food tastes yummier after sheding some sweat), it was a great sense of achievement for all of us. We had in total accumulated 98 bags of garbage from the hill (much more still lies abandoned here even while there is almost negligible human activity there). This was 860 kgs of dry waste including bottles and cans. A joy of accomplishment at one hand and on the other only to think about so much more hills/mountains with high human traffic need care. It was only the beginning and 52 pairs of the helping BTC hands were only a tiny bit of effort from us. But what matters at the end  is we all came forward together and voluntered for a single cause. "BEING RESPONSIBLE" for every traveler was the take away!
The day ended on a good note and I took back two things with me - A sense of achievement & joy of meeting responsible citizens!
BTC has taken a small baby step towards responsible travel and is building a community around it. The way they function and their strict guidelines is what will discipline a traveler. Looking at still much garbage lying in the hill, BTC has decided to organise more such social drives. Finally I found the profound faith of a traveler and will stick on with this one for long. Its a good feeling of finding your soul mate!
Garbage Collected total - 98 bags (approx. 860 Kgs)
Bottles total - 37 bags
Plastic, Paper & Others - 61 bags
Volunteer spend (public transport) - Rs. 200 (max)
Food/Lunch - BTC provided (its simple filling food, don't expect exotic food. It's a eco drive)
KSRTC buses run frequently between Bengaluru and Chikkaballapur (We took the 7 AM one) and connected bus to Kalwara (on the way to Muddenahalli). There is bus back at 5:30 PM from Kalwara to Chikkaballapur. Frequency of buses to Bengaluru is high. To and fro costed us 150 per person in total.
Something that I learnt here - dress appropriately! otherwise it could get bad. Cover your body well, there are lot of bushes, thorn shrubs and sticky plants as this path is less trekked. Carry a cap & goggles, it gets very sunny through the day. A sunscreen lotion will help. Go with atleast 2 liters of water and some insta energy (if you are not a frequent trekker then you will feel drained, so be prepared)
Be on time, stick to the plan, don't wander off there are chances you might get followed and kidnapped (kidding). It's pretty safe with huge crowd but be responsible and stick with your team. Lend a helping hand where needed and share your experience. Sharing is caring!

Written By      : Amshu CR
Original Blog   KALEIDOSCOPE
Organized By  : Virander & Channa
Date of event : 7th February, 2016
Place               : Skandagiri
Members         : 53
Pictures          : BTC FB Page

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