My eyes glimmered and twinkled with joy when I came to know that we were going on another trek after a gap of just a few months after triumphing the summit of the Kuari Pass Trek.
I recollect my memories of the trek, as I, Stuthi Aithal, aged 11 poise my pencil to pen down my experience at the enrapturing Chhattisgarh Jungle Trek.
I clearly remember the happy smile that made its way to a broad grin on my face on the first day of the trek. On the 22nd of December we drove all the way from Baikunthpur to Ramgarh before which we had flown from Lucknow to Raipur and boarded the Durg-Ambikapur Express to reach Baikunthpur. After a short introduction with our trek leader- Ashish sir and guide Suhkram ji, we packed our lunch and went into a forest clearing for briefing. Post that, we trekked along on dry, crackling, leafy paths and saw a large number of pugmarks even those of a bear! But what stole the spotlight for the day for me was the rock climbing! I climbed the rock with great vigour and excitement but soon felt helpless at a particular point but Ashish sir encouraged me on and I was finally able to overcome the zenith of the rock! When I reached the pinnacle of the rock, I felt like I could queen over the whole world. To celebrate my victory, after reaching the top, I distributed some of the toffees I had in my waist pouch to the other co–trekkers who shared the victory of reaching the peak of the rock with me. That day, we really and truly lived through ‘Jungle Book’ as we explored the cave where Mowgli was brought up in, in the story by Rudyard Kipling. We then descended and trekked on to reach our very first campsite Turripani - a small tribal mud hut that was coated with cow dung all over. It was a unique experience for me to spend the night in the mud hut with the cool night air and the sound of swaying branches of the leafy trees that stood sheltering the hut lulling me to sleep.
Stuthi all set for the Chhattisgarh Jungle trek.
The next morning, pride and happiness rippled through my veins when I was made the trek leader for the day! I lead the team very enthusiastically although at times I deviated from the right trail; Sukhram ji was always there to guide me. It was a relatively shorter day, but we all were very tired as the sun was beating down hard on us but all our hard work was rewarded when we came to the most picturesque campsite of all the treks that I have ever done – Tadiyabaan. I got the best tent with the most scenic view of the Tadiya lake. That night as I lay in my sleeping bag waiting for sleep to come over me, I chuckled to myself as I pondered happily over the nickname some of my amiable co–trekkers had given me – THE CAPTAIN. Ashish sir had even decided to stick a small piece of tape with my nickname on my coffee mug! But as these thoughts revolved in my curious mind my eyes started drooping and I had fallen into a deep slumber.
The following morning, we all set off on the longest leg of our trek – to Pandupara. We packed 2 rolls of chapatti each as lunch and moved on. On the trail, I was having a conversation with the star photographer of our team, Amit bhaiya, fun-loving Anusha didi and humorous Ananth bhaiya about their favourite things. We stopped under a cluster of trees to have lunch accompanied by a beautiful view. As we all munched on our rolls, we cherished the last evening’s memory, where we had experienced the most beautiful sunset ever over the Tadiya lake. There we had clicked loads of pictures and made it a sweet memory. I had sipped my favourite black tea as I sat beside Sandhya didi seeing the sun disappear below the horizon and the night rolling in. Unknowingly Amit bhaiya recorded us chattering away with the glamorous sunset in the backdrop. The other co-trekkers were discussing the last evening’s scary tales and incidents in various treks told by Ashish sir with red light shining on his face. But soon we made a move to the most rewarding campsite of all - Pandupura. The last kilometre we had to walk in the Gopat river. As soon as I put my foot in, a refreshed feeling pulsed through me, and I began splashing about in the cool water with immense joy. We ran in the water spraying it all around. I felt like I was not at all tired and was having the time of my life. I jumped and splashed about to my heart’s content even after reaching the campsite. My favourite spot was where the water fell on a rock and the current was high and soothing. I stood there fearlessly with only the rocks to support me, astounding Anusha didi, Ananth bhaiya and Avinash bhaiya. But then we had to get back to the campsite. More excitingly, that night, around a bonfire or rather a safety fire to drive away animals as I would call it, we sat down to listen to some interesting incidents by our teammates with rapt attention. The fire was creating a warm glow on everyone’s face. After a delicious dinner we slept off in a happy mood.
Stuthi trekking on the Chhattisgarh Jungle trek with her family.
Read another blog by Stuthi on the Dayara Bugyal trek
The next morning, with my eyes shining with joy I jumped into the water with great relish. Soon the child in everyone came out and they began pushing each other into the water playfully. We enjoyed ourselves to the fullest that day. I got too wet and cold while playing so Arjun bhaiya lent me one of his T-shirts very kindly and Anusha didi generously helped me to change. But nevertheless, I played in the water to my heart’s content. If this was not enough, we drove to Ramgarh in an open pick-up truck with all of us hooting and hollering with joy. After a hot lunch we settled down de-briefing. It was nice to listen to everyone’s experiences and even better to receive a memorable magnet. This was a enchantingly different trek for me. I loved this trek, my co trekkers’ and trek leader’s friendly spirit.
That evening, as I slept in the Durg–Ambikapur express, I reflected over the valuable lessons this trek taught me-
I learnt to socialize and adjust with various people of different age-groups and walks of life and learnt how to sustain myself minimalistically. Independence became one of my characteristics and I acquired the quality of being grateful to people who helped me. Most importantly, I learnt how to make good friends, whom I can trust to help me in the time of need, just like most of my co-trekkers. People do voice the truth when they say that ‘Nature is the best Teacher.’
The diversity of the splendour of India has stunned me so much that I earnestly hope nature will invite me soon to experience its beauty once again.