We had made adequate preparations before-hand to fight off the darkness. We had different brands of torches, which would have made any torch marketing agency proud. We arranged our-self into 3 columns with myself,laxmam,komal and chirag in the first line, then Sheetal,deepa,purva,darshan and tarun making the second column and finally vivek,rajesh,pratik and nirav making the final column.I had never figured out why Parents encourage children to be a a part of scout team or NSS. I got my answer while we were climbing.The demonstration came from Deepa who called for frequent roll calls starting from the back line to the front. Since we had torches we didn't have much difficulty in finding the path which had ample marks in the ground to indicate the way.
The mood for the climb was set by the song "Yun hi Chala" from Swades. Gradually the path began to slope more.The path changed from normal mud road to one filled with rocks and stones.When we started we saw few lights signals in the top of the hill. Being aware of the fact that there are humans at the top gave a feeling of assuredness and we confidently paced ahead. One new thin which i learnt is the
fact that women have night vision.Without the light the path would be pitch black, that you couldnt discern who was next to you. But i found the ladies Deepa,Sheetal,Komal and Purva having no trouble without the torches. Not only they were taking long strides but also very quickly.Another thing worth mentioning is their stamina. After a walk up the hill for a few hundred metres i could feel the weight of the bag pulling down my back and it left me gasping for breath.
In comparison the ladies were not that exhausted, which was indeed appreciable. Our climb up for some more time brought us to a point which i would like to call the 'Photo Point'. Though it was pitch black,since i had been here before we could spot out the place. The place has few standing rocks rectangular in size. During the ideal times (when one could see the clouds half way the climb), if you stood on the rock, the clouds will form your back ground.
Usually people tend to take 'Titanic' style photos with their hands spread apart.. After spending some time taking snaps,we continued our journey again. We reached a plateau from which the top of the hill was visible. There was a flag pole. There was already few groups which was present there and were sitting around a camp fire. Taking cue from this, we also broke few dry branches and arranged them for a camp fire. I would like to give the long pending thanks on behalf of the group to Komal.
I have no idea how she got the idea of camp fire, (being her first visit) and had taken to collecting few dry branches right down from the start of our hill climb. Thank Goodness that we didn't know about the Camp fire otherwise Iam sure that she would have insisted that everyone else too carry a log of dry branches. Since many were thanking their lucky stars for making out live to the top of the mountain, Iam not sure how many would have been happier if they would have been told to carry the logs too. Anyhow we made a camp fire with the logs which Komal had brought and then found to our surprise how quickly dry wood burns up. So each of us took to breaking the dry wooden branches and feeding them to the fire. we understood that if we wanted to enjoy the warmth of the fire,we better make a large fire. Since there were few locals from the village selling fire wood,we asked him to bring us one. The cost for one bunch of firewood was 80 rs (Quite a profitable business), nevertheless we didn't bother about the money and went ahead with the camp fire and sat around in a circle.
Pratik suggested the idea of playing Dumb Charades. Married couples vs The Singles. We started off with Laxman going to represent our team.he had got "Constantine". He enacted it by showing the Matrix effect to indicate Keanu Reeves and a plus sign to show Constantine. Then we had Vivek acting out 'Albert Pinto ko gussa kyoun aata hai'. God only knows how he managed to show "Albert Pinto" part. Then we had the
remaining actors to act the following parts - Kamasutra enacted by Chirag: Jawar batta – Nirav : Jajantram mamantaram - Prashant : Dhoti Lota Aur Chowpatty – Darshan : Gun of neveron- Rakesh. I know what you would be thinking now. Most of us would have heard about "Dhoti Lota Aur Kapda" but Chowpatty... here is what separates the ordinary from the connoisseur. And the connoisseur was none other than Komal. It seems there is a movie named 'Dhoti Lota Aur Chowpatty" which no doubt poor Darshan had no idea . it so happened that that film helped the Singles win over the Married couples Team...
The time was around 4:30am and it was pitch black. Pratik kept on giving a running commentary on the arrival of Sun God ,similar to the announcements we hear in a railway station. Meanwhile,many of us were left shivering in the cool wind which kept on blowing. I would suggest for eager Trekkers to carry some shawl or warm cloth so as to keep yourself warm, in case the unanticipated wind decides to give a visit. We also used this time to fill our tummies with the biscuits and other eatables. It was around 5am.One of our group member, tarun had a compass. We looked for the north direction with the help of the compass and then using the geographic knowledge of the directions, found out what we assumed to be the East direction and set out in the direction. It was a narrow pathway (not too narrow but more like a cone shaped protuding) and came near the flag pole.
There were people spread across the periphery of the hill-peak.The sky was still dark but there was a cool breeze blowing across. It was a chill wind and it chilled us to our bones. We stood with eager enthusiasm of watching the sun come up. We also had our own moments of doubt. Sometimes, people on the other side of the hill would shout up, which would make us think they have seen the sun and maybe we are standing on the wrong side of the hill. After much waiting , the sun god choosed to present himself. It was lovely to see the sun come out. First it was a light orange color,which then changed to dark orange before turning a slight yellowish reddish color and finally into a bright yellow color. These were indeed mesmerizing.
We roamed around the top hill and took some snaps. There was a small temple(more like a cave) at the top with a Shiva Linga inside.We sat outside the temple and had our breakfast. We were joined by the village dog which had got liking to the bread jam. Rakesh had a nice time in feeding the dogs.He would throw out a piece so to make the dogs go away, no matter how far the piece of biscuit went, it would have it and come back to the rightful place to get another piece.
We had good fun feeding the dogs. The sun has come head high, though it was just 20 minutes since the sun had come out. Most of us were already feeling tired and given a choice would have slept there for some time. But as we had to climb down , we started looking for suitable way down. The best way was to roll down and in few minutes we would be in the base of the mountain.
The only concern would be regarding the state we would be found at the base. We set along a way which seemed to move downwards. The funny thing was one step out of place and one could ensure the fastest timing to get down. The path seemed slippery but because of the hot condition, most of the grass and plants have dried and the path was in a walkable condition. The troupe padded along the hill path. One thing worth mentioning is the fact that one of our group member,Tarun got a sprain in the leg which raised questions of his trekking. Throughout the to-journey, we all were concerned about his state. If we were constantly surprised by his climb on our way up, his descent bowled us over. When all of us were treading the path carefully, taking hold of small shrubs to get down, Tarun did something which we named 'Spider' Walk. In a martial art way, he started crawling with his 2 hands and 2 legs acting as propellers.. Some of the photos of the 'Spider' Walk in action:
The astonishing fact was that he was the first person in our group to reach the bottom of the hill... No wonder, Spider Man still has a good fan following !! Then slowly the remaining group members descended down. We refreshed our-self with Water Melon being sold out by the vendor nearby the place where we had parked our cab. Then by 10:30 we started our way back home with cool and shining memories of the Sun Rise, new friends and a wonderful, engaging Trekking...
To wind it off, Night Trekking is indeed a adventure with its unique thrill.