One Saturday night, home after work, I made an impulsive decision. I decided to go on an exploration close to Bangalore. I had had a trek in the back of my mind for a long time — a trek where I had unfinished business.
This was a trek that had scarred many people – physically. Thorns of all shapes and sizes lined up on the trail. So much so, my colleagues and I called this the “Thorn Trek.”
We had tried exploring this trail early in 2016. With harsh summer conditions, no trails leading up, we had to crawl through thick brown foliage, climb over big boulders and walk through thorns. We came out of the trek looking like porcupines. We had no success in reaching the top. But my colleague was successful in getting a bad rash and fever from all the thorns.
This time, that thought didn’t bother me much. It had been two years. I was an improved trekker with more experience. I was prepared to face this trek — come what may!
With the clock striking 6 the next morning, I was up. Excited. The overcast weather didn’t change my mind. I quickly packed my things — my raincoat, trekking pole, phone installed with a GPS Tracker, headlamp, knife and lighter just in case.
It had started to drizzle as I packed my mum’s delicious aloo parathas for trail lunch.
I felt refreshed riding in a light drizzle to the base of the trek. I spoke to a couple of locals on how to approach the hill and they gave me some useful tips — some things you’ll never find on Google.
By the time I started the trek, it had stopped drizzling. But the weather remained overcast.
With my turnaround time as 1 pm, I started the trek.
Starting the trek
I found a trail from the north-west direction. The plan was to attack from this side and follow the trail up until the big boulders, where there was a temple. I pulled open my trek pole, put the GPS tracker on and started. The way to the temple was unique — there were multiple little bells hanging from boulders. I went further to the top, ringing the bells for good luck.
But soon, the trail started merging with the wilderness, until I couldn’t see a distinct trail anymore. Within a few minutes, the trail disappeared altogether. I had two choices — to explore further through the wilderness or descend back to where I came from.
My 1 pm mark was sufficiently away. With my curiosity running high, I decided to explore more. After all, this was a trek that I wanted to do for ages! I couldn’t turn around now.
So I went ahead. I found myself squeezing through openings of boulders and crawling through thorny bushes. It was like an obstacle course, almost like a military ambush. The jungle around me got denser, with almost no light on the forest floor.
Finally, I reached a high point, with no further trail. I had completed the trek.
I spent half an hour there, just taking in the views. This was my reward – a thick forest spread across the horizon, an interesting cave formation among the huge rocks. One of them had natural beautiful red marks. It transported me back to stone age. I hadn’t (still haven’t) seen that pattern and color in most of the treks around Bangalore. This was a special one. The Gundamagere lake was also shimmering in the distance.
It started to rain lightly. It alerted me to the fact that I had hit my turnaround time. I started my descent. After about 20 minutes, the route seemed to have changed. I started descending a bit faster through the thick bushes of the forest. But I couldn’t see any inkling of a trail.
I paused to reflect on the route I had taken. I had walked through endless boulders, forests, a dense thicket overall. Even though there was no trail, I hadn’t come across anything dangerous.
Now, I couldn’t figure out where I was. I had reached an edge, with nowhere to go. I went slightly further to the edge. And there it was — a steep drop. I was standing at the edge of a cliff — a route I had consciously avoided on my way to the top. My heart skipped a beat standing on the edge. With the rain and now slippery trails, I could easily fall down.
I sat down and leaned against the thick bushes. The grass was wet and muddy. Water was slowly seeping into my old shoes.
Trek pole in one hand and the other clinging onto earth and roots, I started crawling up. The thorns were leaving marks all over my body.
Thankfully, I had my GPS tracker. I had turned it on to document the trek. From what I saw on my GeoTracker app, instead of taking a left towards north west, I had taken a right turn and started going down. Seeing this, my mental map started working. I had an idea of where I was. Although, this meant I had to climb a bit, traipse towards the north west.
Dark grey clouds rumbled in the distance. They didn’t look too happy. My shoes were drenched by now. The boulders around were slippery with wet moss. One wrong footing and no more treks for me!
Here’s where my trek pole came in handy. It helped me balance myself throughout the trek, breaking my fall if I slipped and stopping injuries. I cannot imagine how many time I might have fallen down without it. The only time I didn’t use it was when I was scrambling on top of boulders. The descent especially was easier because of my trek pole. When I read that a trekking pole helps you save 40% of your energy on a trek, I couldn’t agree more. I probably wouldn’t have gone as far as I would have and had the energy to retrace my route to find my way without it!
Once I got back to my bike and went on to savour the aloo parathas, I realised that my GPS tracker and trek pole were the most trustworthy companions on my exploration. Now, it’s almost second nature to have them with me on my treks — they’re as important as a good pair of shoes and a backpack.
You should know – I was able to document and complete the trek. You can learn more about the trek here. If you are in Bangalore and have done the trek, let me know of your experience with it!
Drop in a comment or write to me if you’d like to go explore the trek!