I am not an adventurous person.NO sirree! I am a self confessed couch potato.I do not like to embark on adventures to places unknown or even have a remote desire to conquer a distant land,unless it is inside 300 sq ft of my existence.So when i landed at my cousins place this saturday,I was least expecting an adventure.But as it all goes,i did have an adventure.
My cousin is quite a dude.We call him 'Junky'.that might explain it all.So he is one guy who cannot sit back and relax at home,even on a Sunday.He goes all out and plans a trekking trip.though not everybody in the 'youth department' was ready.Every body had something else to do,i was the only one left.So he caught up with some of his friends,and decided to drag me along.I said already,thet i am not the adventurous guy.But that does not mean i am not a guy who take chances.So i went along,half to redeem my courage in the eyes of family and partly to just get a change.
The plan was to head to the Karnala Bird Sanctuary,far away from the dirt cauldron of mumbai and its honking cars.So we woke up at 6 am on a sunday morning,caught a train to panvel(by 8:30).We picked up the other guys at vashi.They were known people,in the sense that i had seen them before but did not quite know them.So off we went.Four amateurs,high in the toxic fumes of adrenalin,in search of adventure.
We caught an ST bus from panvel to Karnala.By the time we got there,it was 11 am.So we braced ourselves for the trek.I had been to Karnala once,long back.That time i had found it comparatively easy.Well,it is easy even now,except if you know which way you are going.We walked to the "First Base" pretty easily.The atmosphere was as serene as a mumbaikar could hope for.If you can oversee the Bisleri bottles lying around and the place,the place is nature's haven.We left for our target,the fort at the peak.
The place was covered in lush greenery,result of the rains.The clear skies added to the attraction of the greenery.We stopped by a brook on the way and dipped ourselves in cool,fresh,unbottled water.Then lightning struck!! we spotted a narrow,rocky path swerving behind the place from where the brook was sprinkling from.With two in favor,and two against the vote for that path was a stalemate.Then,'junky' challenged for an adventure.And we fell for it.
From then on,what we did would never be called 'trekking'.Not in my vocabulary.It was tripping,climbing,skidding and hanging.The more we climbed,the steeper the climb became.After one hour and no peak in sight;not that we could see it with all the towering trees and creepers above us.Till we came to a point where there was no route ahead.In front of us stood a couple of huge boulders,cut through by flowing water.Up ahead,we could not see any path.Our mobiles were still catching signals,but they were useless if nobody knew where to find us.We decided to put our courage to task.We started scaling the rock-face.I grabbed a stout creeper hanging over the rock,slid my left foot into a crevice grabbed hold of the jagged eedge and pulled myself up.The process included a spasm in my stomach.I made it up.And so did the others.The path from above was worse.The mud was slippery.Even 'Adidas' shoes couldn't hold forte.We pushed and grimed our way through the sticky,slippery and steep slope.
Time was passing us by.Our reserve of water was fast emptying,without ending our unquenchable thirst.Our clothes were discolored by the mud,Hands were so grimy,that even dettol couldn't have washed it off.Then we reached another 'Dead End'.This time it was a group of bent over trees blocking our way.By now,the crew was tired,hurting and seriously doubting that we were on the right track.We looked around for voices but heard nothing other than the scream of an eagle overhead.But we never gave up hope.we bent over,backpacks and all,and searched our way out of the bushes.
That might have been the most sensible thing we did.Coz right ahead of the bushes lay a rock hewn path,which looked naturally civilised.In the sense that it bore signs that somebody had been here.Though the path was steep,our new found faith fuelled the remaining energy to banish our exhaustion.
The only signs of civilisation that we saw was a fifty feet beneath the peak.We spotted two foreigners who asked us the way back.But all my excitement of reachhing the peak was diminished by the fact that it was so crowded.It looked like a bustling udipi hotel.Though this was not the end of our journey,the fort lay 500 metres in front of us.Its flag fluttering high,inviting one and all.
We marched on.The fort greeted us with a medeival embrace of silence.As i stood above the edge of the fort's remaining walls,and peered down into the vast expanse of greenery,i felt fear,power,happiness and sorrow.All at the same time.
Fear- for having looked at how high i have come,and where i was standing.
Power - for having accomplished this in the face of every obstacle.
Happiness - for discovering that there is something within me that symbolises a fighter
Sorrow - for the thought that i have to leave this place to be ravaged over by humans like me in search of an adventure.
After admiring the beauty for a while,we started our downward trek.In our bags we carried every garbage that we had used.But the mud,sweat nad grime,that we carried in our shirts and shoes were priceless.They were the signs of our struggle.I might leave this place with an very dirty apparel and aching joints,back and musscles(that might carry over to the next few days);but i promise i will be back here someday.Not tomorrow,not the next sunday,but someday.I have to find out if nature can survive its battle against the heartless adventures of mankinds industrial zealots.