Thursday, May 5, 2016

Sahyankan 2015 - Part 5 (Ghangad - Khadsamble Caves - Nenavali)

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

With every roadblock, a detour is built. With every ending, a new beginning is defined. Embracing a challenge makes life interesting, but overcoming it makes life meaningful. -- Matthew Fryer

Finally last day of the hike dawned. Stunning landscapes witnessed during the hike, arduous, rigorous yet satisfying trails, meaningful discussions and fun in the campsites were finally coming to an end. But there was a feeling of indescribable satisfaction, feeling of triumph of being part of this incredible event.

Last day's hiking plan was as below:
Ghangad- Kevani Plateau - Khadsamble Caves - Nenavali Village (ending point of trek)

Just before the crack of dawn, we rose in anticipation of early morning hike to Ghangad. My blisters had started troubling me; so I was mulling an option of giving a miss to Ghangad considering I had already visited it twice before. But determination not to miss a single item in the hiking list took the precedence and I got ready. 

Leaving backpacks at the camp,we started our hike in the cool early morning breeze. It seemed great to hike without heavy rucksack. We followed the wider dirt route and missed the narrow straight dirt route adjacent to large fencing recently built (for what purpose I didn't comprehend) going towards Ghangad. Realizing out mistake, we traced our route back and marched ahead.

Soon, we reached to Garjai temple and after spending couple of minutes in front of the temple, we proceeded further. As we were reaching to top, dawn was just breaking up and we waited in anticipation for sun to rise from behind the spectacular mountain range.

Meantime, trekkers posed for the group photo on the backdrop of Tailbaila.

Mulashi dam basking in the morning rays:

Twin dykes of Tailbaila soaking in the golden light:

Soon after sunrise, we started our descent and quickly reached to the base. Base camp leaders were surprised to see us back so fast. We packed our backpacks after breakfast, filled our lunch boxes with Sabji and Roti and left Ekole camp after bidding adieu to Ekole Camp Leaders and our main leader Aniket Rahalkar who was going to stay back at Ekole Camp for next batches over the next four days.

Keeping Tailbaila at the right, we started our long walk towards Kevani Plateau. Tailbaila had always been the fascination for trekkers due to its unique shape and location. Its twin walls always send verve of excitement and witnessing it always provide ineffable satisfaction.

Walking on Kevani Pathar (plateauwas exhilarating experience with Ghangad and its adjacent mountain constantly at the backdrop. Walking on the trail was like walking on the sea of golden grass.

Trekkers from Nasik always walking in unison:

We had a small stop at a school in Dhangarwada before proceeding further. Finally we reached to a place from where we had to descend. Local camp leaders' responsibility was to take us to this location and after that we were on our own. Standing at the edge of the cliff, local camp leaders explained us the descending route. For the first four days, we always had two leaders, Aniket at the front and Alok at the back. But as Aniket had joined the camp leaders at Ekole, we just had Alok as our leader. As none of us had previously used this trail before, it was a challenge to find our way using some arrow markings. Quickly, we formed different teams and assigned Milind Kulkarni as our path finder because of his speed and agility.

Paresh Amrutkar resting at the end of Kevani Plateau:

After forming different teams, we bid adieu to Ekole Camp Leaders and started our descent. Descent took a lot of toll on our knees because of scree. Last batch was painstakingly slow as Vikram Balajiwale's blisters were really troubling him hindering his pace. We took frequent breaks to make sure that nobody was left too behind. My blisters were also troubling me and I frequently took out my shoes and rubbed the blisters gently to reduce the pain.

As we were descending, quintessential humidity of Konkan region started showing its effect and we were drenched with sweat and lost lots of fluids.

Because of good arrow markings, we did not lose route even once and soon, we were to the base of Khadsamble caves. just before reaching to the caves, we had a refreshing break at a small stream.

Final march towards Khadsamble caves was through woods and I spotted few beautiful flowers along the trail.

Khadsamble caves are not easily located from the base and you have to find your trail through the woods. Final ascent was steep with lot of scree.

Inside ancient Khadsamble Caves:

We lunched in the cave, had a little rest and started moving towards Nenavali. It was mostly a plain walk but humidity and scorching heat made it difficult to cover the remaining distance.

Right before Nenavali village, we were greeted by a person offering us biscuits whom we initially mistook as leader from Chakram Hikers. But he turned out to be a local landlord and was there to supervise the work of his resort. He was carrying camera and clicked few pictures of us.

Smiling Madhav Phadke Sir - eminent trekker from Chakram Hikers greeted and congratulated us on completing the gruelling trek and escorted us to the waiting bus. We waited for few of our trekkers who had gone to bathe in the river but there was no sign of them coming. As we were waiting, we enjoyed few cakes brought by Atharva's parents who had come to receive Atharva.  After waiting for 15 minutes, we decided to pick up other members from the river itself.

Nenevali village:

Seeing the bus leaving them, all the members who were enjoying the cold water bath after 5 days rushed outside and quickly joined us in the bus. Once inside the bus, real talent of DK (Dinesh Keuskar) started unleashing in front of us. He mesmerized us with his voice and melodious songs. Later Phadke Sir provided us farewell with snacks and tea near Khopoli. As bus was heading towards Chakram Hiker's office at Mulund, Pune Team was dropped on Mumbai-Pune express way and after waving for many buses, finally a bus from Karnataka state stopped for us. Few of the passengers stared at our backpacks and soiled clothes. Fortunately, we avoided further stares as we occupied last seats of the bus. Chatting about the adventurous five days, we returned to Pune.

Sahyankan 2015 remains the most gruelling trek so far in my short trekking career. Walking over 20 kms consistently for five consecutive days was really an achievement considering that most of us were doing it for the first time. Compared to this, my first trek in Himalaya looked simpler. Trekking of such magnitude in Sahyadri is harder as compared to trekking in Himalaya as you need to brave the heat and sweat and stack up a lot of water because of less sources of water. But as a trekker, it tests your limit and provides ineffable satisfaction once you come out of it unscathed.

Getting to know core members of Chakram Hikers group was really special. Their meticulous planning and knowledgeable trek leaders impressed me a lot. Sahyankan is really one of a kind event in Sahyadri and I am sure it would continue for years to come and we trekkers will get the opportunity to explore some untrodden paths, experience adrenaline thrills and soak in the beauty of our own Sahyadri mountains.

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Happy hiking!

Appeal: No litter; no plastic; no wrappers; keep the mother nature clean!