Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valikunja - Kudremukh Range

From Valikuja Peak in Backdrop;Gururaj,Raghavendra,Purushottam and Rohit in-order

The trek was a mistake with absolutely no real intent. It was decided Friday 1700 hours that we'd trek; Valikunja & Sitabhumi peaks were in our long pending list, we zeroed-in on Valikunja. Participants were just 4 in all - Gururaj, Purushottam, Raghavendra & Rohit(ME). We reached majestic Bus stand at 2300 hours, with no direct busses to Karkala we took a bus to Dharmasthala.
From Happy Valentine's Eve

Day 1[13th Feb. 2010]
On reaching Dharmasthala we were fortunate to find a bus to Karkala waiting. From Karkala we took a bus to Ajakar and a connecting bus to Under. Under's the place from where the trek begins.
From Final Destination
By the time we started the trek, it was close to noon at 1100 hours. We took no guide as usual and decided to make our own roads; we took a winding route though many estates and finally got right on-track what appeared to be a prominent trail taking is the direction of Valikunja. As we got into into tree cover, the climb got steeper; we ended up taking longer breaks with very little ascent.
From Toad in action at a local stream

By 1715 hours we hit the last known water source, we knew we were close to the peak we camped for the night along the trail, with no suitable flat camping site.
We could smell fresh elephant dung and foot print beside the water source and decided to have 2 camp fires to keep off wild visitors. 2 slept and 2 stayed up - 5 hrs straight feeding the fires.

Pre-Dinner was something unusual, thanks to Purushottam and his special Recipe -> Bun Masala. Ingredients were Finely cut tomatoes + Sev + Mixture + Chilly Powder + Salt stuffed into half sliced bun.

Day2 [14th Feb. 2010]
From Happy Valentines' Day

It was Valentine's day but not for serious trekkers like us, we started the day early and crossed over to the Adjacent peak to Valikunja. We realised this only on reaching the Shola Grasslands. We tried to look for any possible routes to get us Valikunja. We realised we had missed the possible route up long back. We had little choice and cut straight through the jungle again making our own roads.
From View of Valikunja from the Adjacent Peak

Just a few meters from the last known water source; we were in open grasslands and had the peak in sight. The climb up wasn't easy either, now with the sun aiming right at you + no breeze + no tree cover we had little respite, we kept going faster, at one point we dumped our luggage.
From Valikunja Peak - Blown-up Transmission Tower

The peak had what looked like a blown-up Transmission Tower with Solar panel mounted over it. Found a couple of foot prints carved out, not sure the history behind it.
We soon started the downward journey, we maintained a pretty good pace. On getting back to civilisation we freshened up in a steam and got ready to board the bus back to Karkala at 1430hours.

After a sumptuous meal we got to Dharmasthala visited the temple and boarded a night bus back to Bangalore at 2130. We made it back to our homes by 0630 hours Monday morning.
From The Descent

1. The forest is infested with tics during Jan~Feb, avoid this season.
2. Tics cause more damage than leeches; Their bites turn sore, very itchy and need medical attention.
3. The total expenses worked out to be around INR 700.
4. With no breeze you must avoid this season.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Yettina Bhuja to Ombattu Gudde ~ Virgin route

Route – Bhirapura -> Yettina Bhuja -> Lakshmi Estate [halt] -> OG -> Devara Holla [halt] -> Gundia Check Post.
From Yettina Bhuja - View near Bhirapura Temple

From Bhirapura – Raghavendra,Rohit,Srikanth,Jaya,Murali,Girish,Gururaj,Purushottam

The troupe consisted of a long list, a record number of 8 joined in, the initial count was about 12 unfortunately 4 did not show up. Tickets were however booked for 8 in advance. The trek troupe consisted of Gururaj, Purushottam, Raghavendra, Jaya, Girish, Srikanth, Murali and Rohit.

Day 1 :
We had booked an overnight bus from Bangalore to Mudigiere the nearest town to Bhirapura. We reached Bhirapura at 0430 hours.
From Bhirapura - Temple
Freshened up and had breakfast at the bus stand and boarded an auto to drop us off at Bhirapura Temple. The initial climb had a prominent trail, the trail soon died down but our destination was well within sight and we managed to summit by 1000 hours as per my planning.
From Yettina Bhuja - Along the Ridge
Here we had Breakfast round - II; Here I took out our navigation equipment and for the last time decided the path we would trace to get to OG[Ombattu Gudde] ridge, our equipment was one of the most primitive ones, a compass & maps from Map Survey of India. It was decided we head South-West to get to OG.
From Yettina Bhuja - Along the Ridge

The only catch was to find an animal trail, human path or an entry point through the thick bushes. I had to lead the way with a sickle clearing the thick spiny forest cover.
From Jenkallu + Dipadkallu + Peak 1259 - As viewed from Yettina Bhuja
We were quite fortunate to find a wide path that would help us summit the first huddle. On reaching there, we could see our jeep trail in the distant far in the South West direction. This was the fist sign of our success. We continued to stay high and walk along the ridge that would connect us to the OG-Jeep track.
From Ridge to OG - I see a Jeep track

From OG - Jeep Track Finally!

We reached close to OG by 1600 hours, we were dangerously low on water, we had to get to the nearby Lakshmi Estate and decide our next move.
From Yetina Bhuja ~ OG – Cliff en Route
On reaching there it was decided most people wanted to sleep in and around the estate. We had a campfire, prepared Noodles, Sweet Potato – Roast, Alu – Roast along with MTR ready to eat and some home made chapattis. Murli and Myself stayed up late, the rest slept by 2100 hours. We were up till 0000 hours and we slept in the open beside the camp fire. By 0300 hours strong winds in our direction woke us up and drove us inside the estate.
From OG Track - scorching sun

From Dipadkallu - Jenkallu - Peak 1259

Day 2
From OG Peak - Dry Shola Grass

Next morning we had breakfast and headed off to OG at a snails pace. We stared at 0800 hours hit the peak at around 1000 hours, we identified all prominent peaks nearby,
From Jenkallu Gudda View
we had earlier scaled Dipadkal gudda, Jenkallu Gudda, Peak 1252, Amedikallu and Yettina Bhuja as well. While on the OG peak we missed the actual trail that would safely lead us back to Gundia.
From OG – We Descended here
Looking back at the map we re-aligned and decided to take a steep decent down to the Devara Hola and look for the route back. But the decent proved quite costly. We stated at aroud 1030 hours, by the time we hit the stream below it was 1200 hours. As per the 48P9N/W it was just a displacement of 1 km!
By now the group split into 2, Gururaj, Purushottam and Raghavendra decided to leave the rest behind and tightened pace. The group moved slowly I had to find alternate routes and get the group kicking up pace. I got hysterical at times and yelled at the slow ones. We [group with 5] took a few breaks, including a lunch break and continued the descent along the river banks and at times through the forest.

Meanwhile the other 3 had no navigation equipment and had to wait for us with no option to back out. The 3 alos did not have any food left to camp for the night. The 3 had identified a suitable campsite right beside a bamboo groove and had started a fire. The 3 had collected enough fire wood for the night. By the time we regrouped it was 1730 hours. Later we realized the 3 had reached just 30 minutes earlier having kept a brisk pace with minimum breaks and having missed lunch break. For the record we had trekked just 4 kms from the OG peak which had taken 1000 - 1700 = 7 hours!!
From Devara Hola - View from our Campsite

Srikanth had got enough food for all we prepared Ragi Malt off ‘Uri Ittu’ and chapattis for dinner. We slept early and decided to start the day on fist ray of light.

Day 3
We started 0700 hours next day. Just after walking a 100 meters we ended up hitting thick Bamboo shoots; we crossed over to the other side and soon had to cross back over as we hit a dead end.

Ray of hope:
From Addahole - While Crossing the Stream

We got lucky as we found a trail that was pretty wide beside the Devara Holla. We moved along the path at a brisk pace and saw writings in Fresh chalk with arrows, after a while we saw ‘Gundia’ followed by an arrow pointing in the direction we were heading. Within an hour we hit Addahola. After a short photo session we continued our sprint to Gundia. All the while we were hoping for Mobile network connectivity to inform our dear ones on our whereabouts, but in vain. We hit NH 48 at 1330 hours. Here we found a small coin booth soon after crossing the overbridge, made calls back home. The group again split here, 3 guys decided to head back to Bangalore the rest continued to visit Kukke Subramanya temple and then back to Bangalore.
From Bisle Ghat - Amma Temple

At Kukke we visited both temples and then to a local – Amma’s Temple en route to Bisle view point. We had to drop Bisle view point 28kms from Kukke due to bad road condition and huge demands by local Jeep men. We boarded an overnight bus from Kukke ~ Bangalore at 0930 hours and touched down at Majestic at 0800 hours, the return journey was smooth until we hit a road block on Tumkur Road, the bus driver was smart enough to wait an hour and cut into Maagadi Road to drop us off at Majestic Bus stand.
From Yettina Bhuja ~ OG - The path we took

1.OG rocks as always, a memorable hark back after a 3 month break due to a broken left arm and low back injury.
2.Over all Trek expense INR 731 per head includes bus + misc. expenses incurred during and after the trek.
3.I had parasitic ticks around my ankle, have now turned itchy.
4.All Eight have bruised hands and legs after grabbing thorny shrubs along the trek.