Thursday, March 24, 2016

Sahyankan 2015 - Part 4 (Tamhini-Andharban-Ghangad)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4 (You are currently reading this)
Part 5 

Body clock had really set in and without the need of a wake up call, my eyes opened up around 5.30 AM. Prospect of hiking through Andharban brought smile on my face and I quickly rose and got ready. 

A vehicle was arranged for us at Tamhini Camp as starting point for today's trek was far the camp. Unfortunately only one vehicle was arranged and as it was not possible to ferry all the trekkers at one go, we were divided into two groups. I was part of the first group.

We were loaded at the backside of the jeep and we started our drive towards starting point of trek. As the jeep was open at the backside, we started shivering as soon as drive started. There was absolutely no protection from the chilling wind and soon our hands got numb. We got a little respite when our vehicle was stopped as Paresh's hat was thrown out of the vehicle because of wind and he ran almost 100 meters back to fetch it.

Our vehicle dropped us at the banks of Pimpri Pazar Talav and it immediately turned back to fetch our second group waiting at Tamhini Camp.

Sun had just risen over the eastern mountains and its slanting rays made water sparkle. Milind Dada found a great spot in the water and perched on the rock for meditation. Golden rays, sparkling water, imposing mountains on the backdrop and a person meditating provided me a perfect frame.

After a group photo in the crisp morning, we started our trek. Today's target was to reach Ekole village, base of Ghangad.

We started our trek by keeping Kundalika valley at our left. 

Mountains towered above us as if they were keeping vigil on us.

Sudhir Athavale uncle, veteran trekker who has done more than 4-5 Sahyankan events never complained about the tiresome trek and was always in jubilant mood. His previous Sahyankan experience and regular trek routine really helped him during these hectic five days.

Rajesh Nagre a jeweller by profession! A smiling and loquacious person! One of the joys of trekking is you get to meet people from various spheres of life. Without trekking, it would be hard to meet all these wonderful people and forge a great friendship with them.

Yogesh Joshi, another great trekker from Nasik!

Dried leaves were strewn on the dirt trail and sound of footfalls over these leaves was soothing to the ears. Some birds fluttering over the trees were difficult to spot in the shade and among mesh of branches. Fallen trees due to old age were seen on both sides of the trail. 

Some rays had managed to find their way through the dense forest and had created some wonderful light combination. We were truly experiencing the absolute tranquility though occasionally disturbed by some laugh coming from the trail.

Scorching sun welcomed us as soon as we came out of the magical trail of Andharban. We had a small water break before proceeding further.

Paresh Amrutkar posing for the photo during the short break:

And so is Aishwarya Narkhede, one of the two brave girls with us on the trail; always ready to smile for the photo.

Resuming the trek after a short break when heat started showing its true colors!

Tailbaila's twin dikes showing their first glimpse!

We were always keeping these lofty mountains on our right.

Somebody spotted scorpion and I really had a real close look and was astonished to see this incredible sight of scorpion mother holding so many babies on her back.

After reaching to Sakharwadi, we tried to locate the water source as we wanted to have lunch. A group of local kids took us to the location where a small waterfall was cascading merrily. Because of non-rainy season, though there was hardly any force to the waterfall but we were elated to get the fresh source of water supply.

Local kids instructed us to take the tar road leading to Ekole village but as per the planned route, our leaders decided to take route through the jungle.

We kept of following the trail and entered the jungle. But though we kept on walking, we were nowhere near to Ghangad. Aniket and Milind Dada asked us to wait and they went ahead to check the route.After reaching to the dead end after which there was a deep valley, they came back confirming that we really had taken the wrong trail. 

Till the time Aniket and Milind Dada came back, we perched under the shade of a tree. An insect perched on my cap which I was holding in my hand. I gradually placed the cap on the rock and had a closer look at the insect. It was stationary and seeing that it had comfortably settled on my cap, I brought out my camera and took this image.

As we were returning back from the wrong trail, we stopped at a water stream from where Aniket and Milind Dada again decided to see whether they could spot the correct trail. Till the time, they returned I removed my shoes and submerged my feet into the flowing water of stream. My blisters had really started troubling me and I massaged them gently. This little break proved useful and I got prepared to complete rest of the hike with blisters.

Aniket and Milind Dada's attempts to find the correct trail went futile and trek mates became restless. To bring back the enthusiasm and positivity, I asked them to pose for the photo and suddenly negativity diminished and smiles were back.

Sayali Hatle - who was painstakingly slow throughout the trek but didn't give up and completed the whole trek with her sheer determination!

We came across a shepherd who agreed to show us the correct route. Finally, we were on the right trail as after entering the woods, we spotted few arrow markings.

Shephered helped us till we came out of the woods and after that he turned back.

Aniket and Alok were quite elated once we reached to the base of Ghangad. Being the leaders of the first batch was really a tough job and despite few hiccups on the ill marked trails, they led us to safety.

Twin dikes of Tailbaila during the last stretch.

Few of Ekole camp leaders were waiting for us on a hill with lemon juice since few hours. They had no idea why we were taking so much time to reach.

After getting rejuvenated with sips of lemon juice, Yogesh Dada posed for the photo on the backdrop of Ghangad basking in the golden rays of the fading evening.

We were greeted by a rose each when we reached to Ekole camp. As per the norm, we went through the grinds of stretching session under the guidance of ND Gaware. Soon after tea, camp leaders at Ekole provided further instructions. We were in for some disappointment when Ekole Camp leaders decided to omit Ghangad from the plan as we reached late in the evening. They were not keen to postpone Ghangad to next day early morning. There were few protests from the trekkers. Aniket, our leader promised us that we would hike on Ghangad next day and he would speak to concerned people to make it happen.

We assembled at Ekole temple and certificates of participation were awarded amidst the cheers and claps. There was also a speech of local guy happened to be woman sarpanch's husband and he updated us about the restoration work being done at Ghangad. After that, there was a feedback session and there were multiple suggestions regarding using GPS, walkie-talkie during the trek to make the trek safer. After the feedback session, we retired to big hall for dinner.

As this was our last day at the camp, we were really provided with the royal treat of dinner. Gulab Jamun was the real attraction and camp leaders served those wholeheartedly. All the calories burnt in the last four days were recovered after this gala dinner. As we were warned regarding the abundance of snakes around, we preferred to stay inside chatting and joking. 

Aniket's announcement to get ready early in the morning for Ghangad's hike was received with cheers and thunderous applause. I had visited Ghangad already twice but prospect of seeing it during sunrise made me equally excited. Tomorrow being the final day of the trek, there was a tinge of disappointment  but there was an equal joy of returning back to the family. With the mixed feeling, I retired for the day in the warmth of the sleeping bag reminiscing the memories of the challenging day.

Click here for Part 5