This is the journey of Suhas Saya who went on from being a DIY trekker to the one who actively gives back to thousands of such trekkers who wish to trek on their own, by heading the Trek Documentation Team!
I completed my engineering five years ago. In the September of 2015, I was exploring around, going on solo treks, and did a few treks with my friends too.
This is a pattern which most people follow in Bangalore. We mostly start with treks around Bangalore, advance towards the Western Ghats and you always have the dream of going on a Himalayan trek one day. I had the same dream back then.
I was interested in going on the Kodachadri trek. I had my eyes set after doing the Kumara Parvatha trek earlier. The monsoon rains in the western part of Karnataka were furious.
I had kept a very close watch on the weather forecast and it showed pretty much heavy rains for 10 days straight. Finally, the forecast showed a day with lesser chances of rain. That was an opportunity I wouldn’t miss.
I immediately messaged my friends asking them to join me on this trek. Most of them were busy searching for jobs and as per my expectations, the numbers died down. From a group of eleven, it came down to four!
Just two days before the trek, the four friends who had confirmed earlier, came down to just one, as it was still raining heavily. His name was Veerendra.
We looked at each other. I said I was going on this trek no matter what — Veerendra nodded. He was ready to join me on an adventure.
Having known how going on a new trek felt, I was nervous and excited at the same time. I was going on another adventure! I did all my planning and preparations for the trek — in terms of what to carry, how to travel, and which route to take. I started reading many blogs and trekking guides to gather information about the trek.
Our trek to Kodachadri
The trek has three routes to the peak and we wanted to cover the best sections on this trek. One such route was via Hidlumane Falls, which was very enticing. I downloaded the trek information from the internet and printed it to carry on the trek.
We reached the bus stop as per the documentation I had taken with me, and started the trek on a small mud trail. We crossed a stream and went through a quaint village. The greenery around us with lush paddy fields was a beautiful setting. The trek already had cast a spell on me!
Later, the trek took us through the jungles of Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary and climbed towards the slippery rocks to reach the famous Hidlumane waterfalls. With misreading the information on the trek guide, I took a left instead of the right which was mentioned.
At this point, I misread the information on the trek guide and I took a left turn instead of a right.
It took us on a different path altogether. We climbed up through the forest floor scrambling on all fours, holding onto trees and shrubs to make our way out of the tree line. We were supposed to reach the jeep tracks in half an hour. There was no sign of the tracks even after an hour. We knew something was wrong. We had taken the wrong route!
Even after we crossed the three folds of grasslands, our quest was still on to find the jeep track. Half an hour later, we heard sounds of a jeep in the distance. We were relieved that we would find our way soon.
The three folds of grasslands which Suhas crossed after losing his way on the Kodachadri trek. Picture by Suhas Saya
I understood the importance of how one wrong turn changes everything on a trek. You might just end up lost for hours — which can either be an adventure or a misadventure. We got lucky that the weather prediction was right and it didn’t rain that day.
After reaching the Kodachadri peak that evening, we enjoyed the drama unfolding in front of us — the colourful display of clouds amidst the green grasslands and Shola forest.
The next day, we returned via another route. It was a dense forest section through Vallur. That day showed us how the monsoon rains are in the western ghats and we thanked the weather gods for being kind to us the previous day. This adventure still remains as one of the best experiences I have had. It’s right there on the top.
Coming to the main part of this story…
After joining Indiahikes and going through all our treks during the first few weeks, I found that the trek documentation that I had printed, was from our website!! I was thrilled to realise this.
Unfortunately, the sheets got drenched in the rains of Day 2. Otherwise, I would have had it with me still. I had no clue during that time that I’d be a part of Indiahikes.
When I reflect back now, it feels even more special. I just finished reworking on the trek documentation for the Kodachadri trek. From being a trekker who used this documentation to now working here and contributing to the trekking community. It’s such an amazing feeling!
To be a part of the Documentation Team from the past few months, giving out information to the community and putting out new treks is truly a proud moment.
I imagine these detailed trek guides giving an opportunity for someone like the younger me to go explore, to learn from the outdoors, and to have an adventure that he/she would remember for their lifetime!