We were invited recently to experience an overnight trek by The Road Trips Co who organize regular road trips to offbeat destinations, curating varied experiences.
We had mixed feelings of this trip as it was an overnight experience of being completely outdoors in an almost secluded destination and the idea was to go ahead with strangers.
On the exciting front, it was going to be thrilling, exciting, adventurous and fun too. After contemplating for a day, we decided to go ahead taking along the kid too.
So we reached the foothills in Chikkaballapur, which is after Nandi hills, approximately 70 kms away from Bangalore. We we went in cars on a dark night reaching around 11.15pm. We were eight of us including the guide and team leader from the Road Trip Company.
(On our way to the base camp at Kavaranahalli, Chikkaballapur)
The first thing that struck me as soon as I got down from the vehicle was the turbulent winds around the hills. While unloading the backpacks and luggage from the car, I noticed we were truly among the hills and right next to the designated mountain there was a tiny village.
It was dark, and except for a few flickering bulbs outside a few homes, not a soul was seen except us the adventurous tribe to climb the mountain. At a distance we could hear dogs howling and lights across the initial path of the mountain. That I was informed was the path to the Shiva temple which has many followers and early mornings a lot of devotees do turn up.
(The Shiva temple that is on the way to the peak)
( Tents put up atop the mountain for camping in the clouds).
So we were ready to climb with our backpacks and it seemed exciting. Kaurava Konda is a twin peak though it seemed to be a single one for me. The trek has two ways of reaching the top and for best reasons known to the team leader, we were guided through the tougher one. I must say this was definitely far more testing our skills in climbing, perseverance and made it thrilling. So amidst the drizzles that had begun on the moonlit night, we were climbing, walking on the mountain that had slippery stones and we did take two breaks before being encouraged to go further.
It was 11.30 in the night when we began our climb and now the wind had started to blow heavier at each step ahead. A few managed to climb this path very well including my kid. The adults who did well of course had other trek experiences including night treks. For me this was the first and it was filling me with varied emotions.
As we halted for a two minute break, I looked behind and was stunned at what I saw. The entire view of the village, the mountain, the rocky surface looked spooky, different and almost dream like. I must say it seemed like an episode of Malgudi days, giving the scenery of the mountains, flickering lights and a tiny village.
Now I began to question myself if I was doing the right thing of going on the mountain and that too with a kid. Yet it seemed good as the rest (those who were better climbers and trekkers) began assisting others and encouraging too to take one step at a time. The team from The Road Trips Co were co operative though they encouraged trekkers to do things on their own, as the intention of the trek is to get you to do something different and largely on your own.
It was tedious, though according to the organizers this was an easy trek. Finally we reached atop the rocky strewn with huge boulders across the mountain, at 1am midnight.
There was an eerie silence prevailing in its own way though we had winds blowing everywhere and literally making us feel we are nothing compared to nature. My layers of clothing seemed insufficient though I found solace seeing my kid jumping around at the new found experience in the night.
We were just eight of us on top of the mountain overlooking many other mountains and of course we had company of dark clouds and even planes, several of them flying across the sky. Probably the airport being close by added to the number of planes flying across the sky. I tried looking for the stars but it didn’t appear and though the moon shone so bright and made the entire scene mystical, foggy and it was terribly windy.
Slowly we were beginning to feel the chill and I saw the team leader and guide getting busy in having a fire created for cooking a simple meal. Of course my kid was super thrilled just at the idea of cooking and eating midnight on top of a mountain. But I think the excitement was more because it was going to be like cave like experiences of getting fire ready. So we had leaves, sticks and a bit of paper to light up to cook cup noodles. With winds blowing heavily it was one tough task at hand and finally it got done with the help of experienced trekkers who had done this earlier and everyone coming together and hoping to have something warm before we sleep.
(Oh yes! That’s the team trying to cook atop the hill)
By this time we had encountered a few drizzles and I was beginning to wonder if the rain gods decided to make the night more adventurous for us. It was wet in some places and that was the reason why the sticks too were not catching fire easily. Finally we had our cup noodles in our hands and it didn’t’ taste that great. Yet it made the experience good and we munched along a few sandwiches that tasted delicious, got again by the team leader. Now it was almost 3am in the morning and my hands had gone numb due to cold. Again it struck me that at that hour I had never been outdoors anywhere and this was something I wouldn’t forget for a long time.
We also had the company of almost 25 dogs who came along the trek and they seemed to know the path better. It looked like they expected trekkers to feed them after the meal. No plastic was thrown and luckily fellow trekkers too maintained the decorum required in managing a good and clean outing, especially in the outdoors.
Now the winds were beginning to show their power and it seemed like a tornado movie running across. I came to know later that Kaurava Konda is in the similar range of Nandi hills, Brahmagiri, Channagiri, Skandagiri which is popular for sunrise treks , but overcrowded .
This trek was indeed spooky, adventurous yet it gave the privacy and space to climb in one’s own pace. With lots of earthworms crawling across we managed to find spaces that were devoid of these crawly creatures to put up our tents.
(The village view from one of the points from the hill)
As we struggled to put up our tents in the torturous windy environment I had my kid entering the tent and I realized when he finally slept at 3am, this was one mini vacation, one night that was so different for him and me. No comfortable bed like in the countless hotels we have spent, no soft pillows around, no soft lighting around, no fine dining experience to remember; the list could go endless but we were one with nature sleeping in our sleeping bags, in the tent, camping outdoors, in the open, amidst hills, under the mystical sky. Also there’s absolutely no water around so we had take our drinking water and for cooking too. Though in the morning I did see a few puddles of water.
It was a bit tough for an amateur trekker like me though I have been open to varied vacations. So would I go in for another overnight trek? Most likely yes as it did offer something so positive and different which others didn’t.
(From the tent view)
Would I recommend to others? Yes of course, but to those moms who are ready to welcome a bit of adventure in their lives and off beat experiences. Also consider taking those kids who can manage on their own like for climbing or be ready for nights that can be devoid of any luxury. It does of course teach some life lessons and can be a great experience for ten year old onwards. The trek would actually be good for families or group of friends together. You do need company of encouraging trekkers who don’t get bogged down easily. This I am told is one of the easier treks so it could be possible for many families.
Finally we did sleep for three hours before I was up again by 5.45am with the outburst of natural sunlight around me.
(The morning view from the Kaurava Konda betta)
I could hear birds chirping and the wind continued with its pace of blowing heavily. It of course seemed different from the night and mountains looked more welcoming.
We got down beginning our descent by 8am, headed to a breakfast joint nearby and said good bye to each other.
A night to remember and a night that did trigger me to consider more such outings, camping vacations. Cheers to camping in the clouds.
( Reshma Krishnamurthy travelled with her family including her kid on an invite from the Road Trips company).
The Road Tips Company website-http://www.roadtrippersclub.com/
The Road Trips Company facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/theroadtripsco/