January 15, 2016

MicroAdventure - January

Hello dormant blog! I keep making plans to start putting together all the almost-long-forgotten material I have built up over the last couple years. But getting started is always a bit hard. Let's see how this year goes.

Last year I did a project to make a playlist significant to each month of the year. It was great fun and often challenging to think of themes and make the perfect playlist. In case you want to listen - here.

So, I was looking for something similar- a fun project to last me the year. I then discovered this. And now Alastair Humphreys is now my new inspiration. His list is tailor-made for England residents and I don't think some of his ideas are apt for the Indian context, so I'll have to make do with my own ideas for each microadventure (I don't even have a bivvy bag!)

Just two days after this breakthrough, I found a microadventure I could manage over the weekend, as well as three trip buddies as eager to get out of the city as I was and soon the bus tickets were booked! Seemed like a simple trip, but the spontaneity of it gave it extra points for adventure. 

Location - Kudremukh National Park
Plan - Hike to the Kudremukh peak

We arrived in the little town of Kalasa in the wee hours of the morning after an overnight bus ride (with a driver who seemed to enjoy the curvy mountain roads a bit too much!). For about half an hour we wandered the streets guessing constellations in the clear sky. A brisk walk was necessary to keep ourselves warm until we found a light on in a tiny tea shop. Hot teacups were perfect to thaw out our numb fingers.

Daylight brought some life into the town and after breakfast, we caught the local bus to the village of Balegal. On meeting the jeep guys, we were sadly informed that Kudremukh peak was closed to control forest fires. Having heard this before on a trek a couple years ago, this news was a bit of a downer. They suggested another peak to scale as an alternative- Kurinjal. All geared up and ready, we boarded the jeep. Quite unaware about what kind of trek this would be, it added an element of suspense. 

The level terrain started to ascend once we crossed a stream. We trekked a steady slope that cut through tawny grass lands, while a couple sambar deer watching us from a distance. The morning sun was quite high up, so the forest was a welcome break. Dipterocarp trees towered above us, moss hanging low from their branches, their buttress roots spanning large areas on the forest floor. Being dwarfed in these surroundings brought conversation to a halt. Has it ever felt like the trees are listening? 

Back into the grasslands, the last couple of kilometers zig-zagged up the side of the mountain bringing to view vast panoramas around every bend. The last leg was a bit of a push, as we pulled ourselves up over rocks on the steep peak of Kurinjal. The sheer expanse and magnificence of the surroundings from the top always remind me of the Creator. A combination of peace, feeling sucked up by awe and being alive - it only intensifies with each trek.

With time on our hands, there was no rush to get back down. We had time to appreciate the views again, the forest and the stream. The icy water was refreshing and numbing in equal measure. We built rock cairns (as if there was a need to contribute art) and picked up a stone each as souvenirs (with a slight guilt of displacing them). 

We took the remainder of the day slowly - enjoying home made food, drives through villages and walks along the ridge of a barren dam. Dusk came quickly and we found a portico to rest weary feet and discussed "Happiness" and anything else besides the city and work that we would have to go back to. 

February; what adventure awaits?! To plan, or not to plan: that is the question. 

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