Friday, February 26, 2010

A Matter of Honour (Part - II)

Part - 2 (Ombattu Gudda)

After a good 8 hours sleep, we woke up early morning at 6AM before the sunrise. Our camp fire had been raging all night and gave us the warmth required to stand among the clouds to watch the sun rays make its way through the mountains. While we enjoyed the morning colors, Miltan was busy barbecuing his Jockey in the camp fire. Krishna, Miltan, Debarshi and myself then started packing the tents while the photographers were excused to make the best use of the morning light to capture nature through their lens.

By 7:30AM we put out the fire and began our climb down towards Bhaireweshwara Temple. The declivity was constant and we reached the plains withing 1 hour. We then walked to the nearby farmhouse and inquired the route to Ombattu Gudda. After a long discussion with the farmer, our guide informed us that path lay behind us and the two peaks that was obstructing our view needs to be crossed first. Despite some reluctant faces we pushed ourselves towards the mystery peak. I was excited at the very thought of conquering the peak this time. We walked at a good pace towards the base of the first peak. Piyush, Ramesh and myself were the sweepers and weren't comfortable with our water bottles being empty. Our shouts for stopping at streams for water died down and no one seemed to realize the importance of water. When our ascent for the first peak began, we set our foot down and declined to take a further step forward until our water bottles were refilled.

Manju had relied on the Guide on the water sources, but then after few minutes of argument we went back towards the nearest water source. However, the water was relatively stagnant and close to where a Porcupine was skinned (or dethorn-ed) and eaten; lucky, I had bought some water purification tablets. We finished our breakfast, filled our bottles and began our climb. The climb was pretty steep, but having trekked just 2 weeks back, I found it less demanding, except for some backward force from the bag.

Within 30mins into the climb we were at the top and the guide found a shorter route to second peak without much descent. Surprisingly, when we reached the top we could find the jeep track running in front of us. Having done extensive study on Ombattu Gudda during our last expedition Piyush and myself realized our location and proximity to Ombattu Gudda. We were enthralled by the green and dense Kabinhale Reserve forest. We took few minutes to cherish the moment; the moment of conquering Ombattu Gudda.

Without wasting any time and energized by the thought of no more camping, we walked on the jeep track following the guide. Having walked nearly 3kms in the open sun and exhausting our water supply, we halted under a tree to find that we were not making a descent to Lakshmi Estate, but walking in the opposite direction towards the last OG peak (Remember 9 hills). This major mis-communication between the leaders and sweepers resulted in a argument that had to be settled logically. With our water supply exhausted we had three options, continue our walk towards OG last peak, head to Sarswathi Estate and get some water there or walk back to Lakshmi Estate. After a long discussion and voting, we planned to first head to Sarswathi Estate to get some water. Decision was made but route to Sarswathi estate was not known. Believe it or not, we had mobile signal out in the middle of the forest!. Phone a friend, Ramesh placed a call to the Guide's partner and after an elaborate conversation declared that we were on wrong track to Sarswathi Estate. Like it wasn't hard enough, we had to trace back our path by 1Km and take a detour. Driven out of options we walked like Zombies back to the detour point. We then halted, while the guide set out to find the route ahead.

Within few minutes, the guide returned with a bad news, no route ahead. Walking with minimal water, and the heat above us were perfect combination for insanity to creep in. Everyone were releasing reserve energy in the form of abuses. Not arriving at a conclusion, we then decided to walk back 7Kms to Lakshmi Estate with just 4L of water. This 7Km was never ending walk, or atleast looked like one. With the first glimpse of Lakshmi Estate, we pushed at full throttle forwards.

As we entered Lakshmi Estate, we were crying 'Ner, Neri Elli' (Water, where is water). The estate workers then showed us to the hose pipe and I stopped not for a minute to drink from it. After quenching our thirst, Ramesh and Manju struck an amicable chord with the estate workers. The workers not only showed us the way to the most wonderful waterfall, that massaged our torn muscles but also prepared the best sambar that I have ever tasted in Karnataka. After a sumptuous meal, the workers offered us beetle nut and their rooms for a quick nap. While Ramesh, Manju conversed with the workers, I made my best attempt to understand the Kannada and enjoy the conversation.

After nearly a hours rest, we set out to the entrance of Lakshmi Estate. We reached the main road at 5:00PM and had our fingers crossed at the TT driver arriving on time. Withing 20mins we were back in our Tempo Traveller and towards Bangalore.

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