Saturday, February 23, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

A midnight trek to Skandagiri

There is a flickr that I am a member of that is basically a bunch of photography enthusiasts from Bangalore who try to shoot regularly. I have been a member of this group for a few months and so far, have been on a few expeditions with them, made a few friends and have learnt a lot.

I fancy myself as a photographer but sometimes am brought to earth when I have conversations like these -

[Mom calls up]
Me: Hello!
Mom: I saw the pictures of Huliappa (my nephew).
Me [expecting appreciations of my abilities] (eagerly): and...
Mom: Ella shake aagabittaithalla? One of them is nice but the rest have been ruined...
Me [bubble bursting and too stunned to say anything]: ...
Mom: You are not taking pictures properly. You should learn from your Dad.
Me [finally something to say]: So, I was thinking of coming over next month. (I like to give them hope :)

I also fancy myself as a trekker. I like to walk and when everybody took the bicycle in the recent company offsite on an island resort, I preferred to walk all over the island carrying my camera and bag with all the accessories (I took 1500 pictures in four days and I am still in the process of processing them and uploading them to flickr). So, when Dr Vivek posted an invitation to trek to the Skandagiri peak, supposedly a two hour trek to the top on a full moon night, I thought to myself, 'why not?'. Of course, I knew that I would be the slow one but I figured I will make it because after all, it is a two hour trek... Peanuts, I thought for a walker like me... Boy, how wrong was I.

The day of the trek, I picked up the sleeping bags from Venky (another BWS member), made arrangements with BOSS who graciously offered a ride in his car. The plan was to meet at BOSS's place at 7 pm and leave for Skandagiri from his place. I got there in time and was introduced to Sreelesh and Deepa, and Megha, BOSS's wife, who were also coming with us. We met the rest of the gang (and the gang was huge - 15 people) near GKVK college near Yelahanka and had dinner in a nearby place and started off from there.

Skandagiri in a small hill near Chikkaballapura which is on the Hyderabad road. Once you reach the town, you take a left turn and follow a narrow road toward Papagni mata which is at the bottom of the hill. Dr Vivek had made arrangements for a guide and he seeked him out. I guess a guide was needed since none of us had been there before and internet had not been helpful. Kempanna, the guide, walked up to me and asked me whether I had trekked before but I had the distinct feeling that he was sizing me up and had made a judgement, perhaps the right one, about my abilities. My mental thought was, "this is not a good sign..."

The trek up the hill is quite steep and you have to literally climb rocks. The moon was full and there was no need for a torch was I was burdened by two sleeping bags in my hand, which was thankfully taken away from me. I was almost immediately left behind but I am used to trekking alone and I would have still climbed without company but Dr Vivek and later, Peevee, kept me company. It was a pretty long trek and since we could not see the top, we were always guessing where the top was and it seemed to be further and further away. I would stop to catch my breath, sit to rest my tiring limbs and then walk a bit more, which is usually how I trek. But this was a steep climb and it reminded me of the time we (me and my college friends) trekked up Chembri peak in wayanad, though that was in the daytime and when it was raining!

Midway through the trek, my legs started cramping and I slowed down even more. Thankfully, Peevee was with me and he had water that I desperately needed. But it also meant that I slowed down a lot more. I would take 5-10 steps and stop. And this went on for some time. My legs completely cramped when I came to last bit of the trek where Dr Vivek, Kempanna and Sivu were waiting for us. I sat down for a while and then I pushed on because I just wanted to be at the top and the top seemed so much closer (though this had been a recurring apparition). Dr Vivek is a seasoned trekker and did not seem to have even broken a sweat while I was there trying to push my legs to do things that they did not want to do and if they had minds, there would have been a internal revolution of the proletariat! But I finally made it and that too just in time to enjoy the bonfire that the guys started over there. It was a relief for the cold winds that was now beginning to matter since I had stopped walking. The guys pitched the tents and I finally got to rest inside.

In the morning, people in the tent left to see the sunrise but I stayed inside, too tired to go out. When I finally came out of the tent, the sun was up and the the top was covered in fog. After packing the bags, we climbed down. The climb down was far easier and there were no mishaps... After reaching the bottom, it was a relief to sit in BOSS's car and rest all the way back to Bangalore...

It was a photography trip but I hardly took any pictures. But I have no regrets. It was a fun trek, I got to meet Dr Vivek (been a fan of his work for quite some time) and got to know Peevee's age (I was surprised that he was that old) and I renewed my commitment to lose some weight. :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Victor Wooten

Ok, this is even better..

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