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Kudemukh Trek through Shola Grass

Kudremukh had been in my to-do list for a long time and I knew that monsoon is the only season to witness the best views of this trek. With July disappearing along with my best friend's wedding preparations, I finally made my mind to resume my trekking expeditions and Kudremukh popped in the BTC events. One of my colleague pinged me and said "Hey! Look out.. there's a trek to Kudremukh" My mind didn't think for a minute and I decided to register.

I was mentally prepared to convince my dad about the trek. While he was under the impression that I wouldn't go on treks after my best friend (my companion in any treks or trips) got married, I broke the rules and requested for the trek. Surprisingly there was no arguments and he was fine with it. With high hopes about the trek, I was waiting for the weekend.
 
After a long struggle in getting a raincoat, I managed to grab one just 2 hours before the start of the trek. Thanks to the awesome metro that I managed to reach Majestic from Indiranagar in 20 minutes. The organisers and few other co-trekkers were waiting in the Shanthala silk house meeting point. I joined the group and met a familiar face Pralov, but either of us didn't remember our names or where we met. There were also few whom I've met during the plantation drives.
We started our travel by 10.30pm in the tempo traveller and everyone tried their best to get some sleep despite all the obstacles. The van came to a halt around 4am and again resumed at 6 where the zig zag ride started around the Western Ghats. The views were getting cleared as the sun popped out of the clouds. In another 2 hours, we reached our destination, which was not the actual destination though. We had to walk for another 7km as the homestay can be reached only by jeeps/walk. Since we were full of energy in the early hours, 7km didn't seem to be difficult.
 
The best part about the 7km route is that you get to encounter a beautiful waterfall (my favourite part in the entire trip), which overflows in the roads. Words are not enough to describe the beauty of it, with the pure water quenching our thirst every time we crossed the pool of water. Whether you come in a jeep or motorbike, you cannot escape this beauty.

Apart from this falls, the path had some amazing roads, oops, they are not roads, just mud covered paths which are usable only by the forest jeeps and two-wheelers at their own risk. Since we were walking across the stretch, we had to find a safe place to protect ourselves from the mud being splashed on us during a vehicle movement.
After a long walk with our backpacks, we reached the homestay. Breakfast was waiting for us and in no time, we were attacking them. While the guys took the entire hall, the girls got hold of the small bed room. Initially the plan was to visit a falls but it was called off due to the lack of forest officer's permission. Yet, we didn't give up and planned to conquer the Baavikonda peak. Conquer might sound a little too much as it was a relatively smaller trek with 5kms one-way. 
Got our packed lunch and headed out on our first mission to Baavikonda, which was a warm-up for the bigger Kudremukha trek. With Sambha, the sambhar, heading our group along with the chotu Sanjay, the guide, the trek began. As the rain Goddess was showering her blessings all the time, the route was pretty messed up and if your shoes don't have a grip, then you are prone to slip.  
We managed to reach the peak with few leech bites. Overall it wasn't a difficult trek and the last stretch was to just walk across the grass to reach the top. A dog accompanied us and guided with the route for some food in return, but unfortunately we didn't have anything apart from puliyogare which the dog hated😂 Vijaya had a pack of cream biscuits and the dog ate it with full excitement.

After clicking few pictures and selfies and a short break, we started to descend. As none of us were hungry, we had the packed lunch in the middle of the descend near a creative grassland carved by the local farmers.

Returned to our homestay by 3.30 pm and looked out for the bloody leeches who might have jumped inside our shoes during the trek. While the leeches ignored our blood, they didn't leave our HR Saptha, who was struggling to stop the blood outflow from her legs.
After a quick break, we headed to a small waterfall near the homestay. The water flow was relatively higher due to continuous rains and teamwork helped to cross the stream. The rocks were too slippery that Vijaya fell and hurt her hand, luckily it was a minor wound. Then the guys went to explore the waterfalls, while Sushma motivated me to experience the cold waters. With the help of the branches of trees and Sushma's tips, I managed to touch the falls without getting hurt. I was fighting between my heart and mind to leave the support of the branches and get into the water, and when I finally did, it was worth the risk. The super cold waters splashing on your head will definitely bring the child in you. Again, I clinged to the branches like a monkey and came back to the shore. 
Hot pakodas were waiting for us in the homestay and we wanted to grab them before Sambha as he was planning to attack them even without having lunch. After a quick hot bath, we gathered and munched the pakodas. Then we settled in the hall and Sambha took us through the game of Mafia. While only few of us knew the game, it was fun to make others understand the concepts around the whole world of doctor, police and mafia. The laughter continued further when the newbies were reacting incorrectly on the call for mafia or police. Then it was dinner time where we had roti with cabbage curry and hot rice with sambhar and appalam, followed by a long never-ending game of UNO. While the experts were playing one round of demo game to teach the beginners, it extended beyond the limits. Then all joined the game but as most of us were sleepy, we paused the game and bid good night for the day. 
Being an early to rise woman, I woke up at an unusual time of 4.30am. I was surprised to see the family up so soon, just to start preparing food for their guests. Even the little kids were up by 5am and they started screaming. Since it was damn cold outside, I stayed inside my blanket until everyone got up.
 
It was an early Sunday morning for everyone as we were geared up for the main 22km long Kudremukh trek. After a quick breakfast of hot idlis, the entire group was ready and we started our mission at 7am. Within few steps from the homestay, we reached the forest office. Luckily we were the first group of the day to enter the forest. The trek's challenge started in the initial few steps only, that our Sambha wanted to go back to the homestay and have extra idlis despite having 8 idlis for breakfast. 
The path was straight-forward, apart from two to three places. We kept walking and walking, crossing mountains and streams, but each view was different, which added up to additional photo sessions. There were few ascends which drained out the energy completely, yet we kept progressing with minimal halts to escape from the bloody leeches.

Rain too didn't let us live in peace, but luckily there were not heavy showers. Even if it had rained, there were no options to run and hide below the trees as most of our paths were only filled with grass and leeches. The forest officers had kept boards at regular intervals, which were assigned to be resting spots. The first resting point was supposed to be the only view point where we could get the complete picture of the kudre-mukha, but we weren't fortunate to witness it as the entire place was covered in mists.
 
Among the entire stretch, the zig-zag trail was the most challenging one, yet you could capture lot of good photographs! 😉 Our guide advised us to keep taking the left here because a wrong turn might lead you inside the forest and you'll be lost. After a bit of struggle and lot of breathless breaks, we reached the end of zig zag route and a compliment of appreciation was waiting from our guide on achieving the mission 😃 and then all of us were walking on top of the horse's face and we reached our final destination by 11. 

I've never experienced so much wind in my entire life, it was just freezing and I wrapped myself inside the jacket. We were lucky to witness few sambhar deer running from the forest. Then it was time for lunch where murukkus and kadala came for our rescue in finishing the chithranna. After few photograph sessions, we started the descend. The best part was that no groups reached the peak until we left the spot.

While getting down on our zig zag route, we witnessed another small group and that was it! Sundays seemed to be a holiday for mountains as well 😂 we were lucky to get good views while returning as the sun popped out at times and cleared the clouds. However, I felt that the downward stretch was too tiring as we kept walking and walking. The fellow guys were only numbering the streams incorrectly and lied to me about the remaining distance to be covered. Finally, we managed to reach our homestay by 4.30. Salute to the lady who managed to finish the trek with a swollen hand. Hats off, Vijayalakshmi miss! Oh yeah, she is a Sanskrit teacher. After coming back to the homestay, our first step was to look out for the leeches and multiple leech bites, but to my surprise, I didn't have even a single one. Thanks to my shoes which safeguarded in some way. But the happiness didn't last long when I noticed a leech bite in the top of my leg, yet it wasn't bleeding continuously as Chaitanya's who donated blood to all the places inside the house. With a big round of farewell to the people in the homestay, we started back in a jeep by 6pm after a final round of photo sessions.

Little did we know that the jeep ride would end up being a roller coaster ride, the path was so muddy that the vehicle rotated in every possible angle to move forward. Reached the base point where our van was parked and after a quick lemonade, we bade goodbye to the magnificent green carpet. Started off with thalaivar Kabali songs and followed by a mix of Tamil and Hindi, our DJ Pralov created a big chaos in the van. This was followed by a game of food antaksharie and we stopped at Annapoorneshwari temple.
The temple was crowded even on a Sunday. The specialty of this temple is that they provide free food to everyone. After a quick prasadham for dinner, a beautiful day came to an end. In no time, our van also came to a halt by 3.30am and I was shocked to see that we were outside Shanthala silk house.
 
Two days wouldn't have been so amazing without the enthusiastic people in the group and the energetic organizers Chaitanya and Sushma. A big thanks to everyone for making it a memorable one !
 
Written By       : Shamili
Organized By   : Sushma & Chaitanya
Date of event  : 27th & 28th Aug, 2016
Members Count: 12
Place               : Western Ghats
Pictures           : BTC FB Page
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