Kudremukh, an escape from the cage of COVID 19

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Treks have always fascinated me to the core because it is one of those amazing opportunities where I get to connect with the greens. Aah…! I connect to the greens and my blues, they fade away.

Kudremukh was my escape from feeling caged at home because of the pandemic. And here, after reaching the Western Ghats, the breeze rushing through my hair felt like the winds underneath my wings. The misty clouds, the chilling weather, the green meadows, the slight drizzle, everything seemed so perfect. Perfect enough to sweat your way to the top, scaling 1892m and call the perfection: Divine!

18 Sept 2020, 7:00 am; I along with my friends took a 4×4 to reach the base camp. That was a different high in itself. The shaking felt like an amusement park ride. A ride that takes you to heaven, an amazingly picturesque view. Reaching the base camp and looking at the endless meadows that we will now be getting lost into was what added to my excitement. My cheeks started to hurt; I meant I couldn’t stop smiling. We started, and the clouds showed up to shower us with love as we were the first batch of people to scale Kudremukh peak after the long void created between mother nature and we humans because of COVID 19.

The start was with an easy mud path that slowly started pulling down the excitement in me. Easy, wasn’t what I was looking for. I didn’t want to just walk, I wanted to have an adventurous walk. But then, I could hear something. A rush. “Is there any stream nearby?” I asked our guide who, turned back and just smiled. And around 40 steps later, I was untying my shoe, for my feet to get washed in the stream that took my heart away for dancing its way down through the Forested vegetation. Blissful, my feet felt when the water embraced ‘em. But, there was something awaiting me, in fact, all of us…

Something that we were prepared for yet, we weren’t confident about.

In spite of scaling Sarpass, a Himalayan peak, I was really jumpy about this trek to Kudremukh. It was my first ever monsoon trek and I was anxious about the “Slushy little bloodsuckers”. Being insect phobic in the first place, I knew that if I had to make it to the top, I somehow have to make peace with the ones who dwell in, the path that leads me to the top. Disgusted I was, looking at them. The leeches. I had no choice so, we climbed on and on. The vegetation around, fascinating me for its contrasts. The vibrant green growing darker as the canopy covers up sunlight. Trees in blackish-brown covered with the greenest algae, it all seemed like I was walking through an artistic masterpiece. “Many more to come,” our guide said, who walks so firm with his flip flop wherein we were gaining grip with our trekking shoes.

Having worn a hard soul shoe in monsoon, I found it really difficult to have a grip on the slushy, slippery mud. Companion Kaavya, choose to wear  Trekking Floaters so that, we could get the leeches off as we see it, and also not walk in what seemed like a pool in itself, the damp shoes when we crossed the streams. We had smeared our legs with an anti-leech tonic which would cause no harm to the leech. We also were backed up with salt for the same.

Several streams, and forest patches, but each with different vegetation, a trek halfway then led to the lush green meadows. It was indeed obscure because of the mist. In fact, we couldn’t see the edge that we were to scale.

Onti Mara (Singletree), inviting us to sit underneath. We were covered with vast green and dense forests. What more can I ask for? We kept wowing and climbing on. The last stream and a steep climb full of gravels and silt, making us slip and fall; I can call it the most challenging part of the trek.

Exhausted, we crawled our way up to the top. Heavenly: Made me surrender my heart, what a soul-filling beauty. Not wanting to leave, with a genuinely heavy heart, post-lunch we started to descend. The rain took us in its arms, so did the mist, the green blankets surrounded us and the gushing water made the trek musical. Every beauty that contributed to making this scene complete took its chance to embrace us, but for the Sun.

The clouds started to make a way, the mist clearing up; the sunlight hit the edges so fascinatingly that, now we could stretch our eyes till the horizon. Wallpaper I can call it. Wow! The scene happened as if Mother Nature wanted to show all her colors to us.

We stayed there, without moving an inch for minutes. And it started to drizzle again. The clouds covering up and we turned around to see what we had just summited. And we just sighted a Sambar that stood gracefully looking at us, as if it was sent to bid us adieu. It made its way through the meadows as it went on grazing, and we continued our way down.

“All okay?” I was asked. In reply, I slipped hard and bumped my back and said “I guess.”

Getting down: the most exhausting part in the climb. The algae all around and the slippery mud, made it really difficult for us. Losing balance and falling down was the most constant part of my descend. As we crossed streams, our shoes again drank all possible water and made things more irritable for me.

We left the meadows behind and the forests again had the “Cute little warmth seekers” awaiting us. The leeches again made their way up to our shoes, but this time, I was all okay with ‘em. In fact, I was at peace with them. It started growing darker, “15 more minutes,” our guide said when we had to trek down the last 800m. It was more time consuming because of the rain. 6:30 we were back in base camp.

Even though completely drained out of energy, our faces had a constant content smile. “I will be back here, soon,” I told myself, as we boarded our 4×4, and there was one leech on my right foot, holding on so tight when I tried to pull it out as if it was not wanting to let go.

Let go, the exhaustion…

Let go, my blues…

A breath-taking experience…

Making it hard to bid adieu…

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