Kudremukha - Of peaks and the leechy licks!

Kudremukh, trekking in lush green mountains

Being close to Mother Nature brings in a sense of unmatched wonderment! And when that happens back to back on two consecutive weekends your joy knows no bounds. A ton of thanks to the organizers at Bangalore Hikers (BH) for arranging such awesome back to back trekking events. Last week, after a fun some one day hike to Makalidurga, this week BH was back with a two day trek to Kudremukha, the third highest peak in Karnatka.

So it all began on a Friday night. After an ordinary week at office, we were brimming with excitement. Though I had loads of apprehension, given the fact that I was just a beginner at trekking and this was supposed to be a difficult trek, especially during monsoons. But all thanks to the enthusiastic group of 12 odd people, my companions for the trek, I did not give the knot rising up in my stomach, a second thought.
When we all turned up at the Kempegowda bus station, there were some familiar faces from the last week and some new ones. There was a brief round of customary introduction and hence the journey began. The TT eased its way across the deserted lanes of Bengaluru. The ‘post 11 pm’ streets’ of the city look very different from the typical hustle bustle associated with ‘Namma Bengaluru’.
After settling down, began the hilarious game of Food Antakshari, courtesy the selfie-king of our group, Harshad. It was as funny as funny could get! It stretched to the point where the stomach could no longer take the giggling fits. Then everybody slept or at least tried to get some rest.

Kudremukh, start of the trek Kudremukh, water stream crossing

Next morning around 8 am we reached Balegal. While we waited for the jeep to take us to Mullodi (base camp and homestay was in Mullodi), some had tea, and some were busy clicking pics. The ride till Mullodi was up hill, bumpy and broad enough for just a jeep to pass. But the scenery gave a hint of what lay ahead. The lush green forests and the water streams rushing through them were soothing to the eyes. On top of it, add the cool dash of monsoon showers. What you get is nature’s way of mesmerizing you!

We were already a bit late from our scheduled time to commence the hike. So we reached the home stay, freshened up quickly, had our breakfast and started the trek by 10.15 am. As per the forest department rules, one guide also accompanied us.

Kudremukh, lush green mountains 1 Kudremukh, lush green mountains 2

Let me here introduce you to an important companion of our entire hiking experience- The blood sucking, icky looking Leeches! This was my first ever encounter with the species. We were warned beforehand by the organizers of these over friendly worms. Lohith, one of the trek leads, even showed us some two week old leech marks on his calf. The Leeches will quietly crawl up to you and start feasting on your blood. So we trekkers are like a lip smacking lunch for them! The leech-o-phobia was already making its presence felt. Any sensation in the below knee area and the reaction would be priceless- Swati gave the best ones!

Kudremukh trekking trail 1 Kudremukh trekking trail 2

Did I not mention about the awesome photographers we had in the group1 Sumithra, Modi and Santosh, all had DSLRs and clicked pics that would straight away go into the #MemoriesOfALifetime repository.

Initially the trek was not tough - mix of up-hill & down-hill stretches and striking shola grass lands in between. Some streams were there to cross which drenched our shoes. It was raining/drizzling in bursts. Divya, the fastest one to complete the trek, made it seem like a stroll in the park. She was actually inspiring everyone to speed up.

Kudremukh lush green mountains 3 Kudremukh lush green mountains 4

Henceforth, came the first hurdle. Santosh, the other trek lead and a pro trekker, remarked it as the ‘zigzag’ stretch. For me, the stretch got really difficult. Huffing and puffing for air, with short breaths, I was moving forward at a snail’s pace. Bishwajeet (my ever supportive better half :D) was trying in the best possible manner to encourage me to move forward.

Kudremukh trekking trail 3 Kudremukh trekking trail 4

But I needed some expert guidance this time. Along came Santosh. He patiently kept nudging me forward and is the reason I could complete the trek. After every 10 minutes, I would quiz him- “Aur kitni durr hai” and he would smile and say- “We are almost there”, just to motivate me. Had he not been so positive, I would have explored Kudremukha only digitally. That would have been a huge miss because the place is much more stunning than the Googled pics. The green velvety grass covering the sculpted mountains, dense and diverse flora, rain drops on flower petals and to top it all the mist crawling over everything- Sublime beauty!

Kudremukh lush green mountains 5 Kudremukh lush green mountains 6

The best part nearby the peak was that in a span of minutes the clouds would huddle up and all you could see is the misty fog all around you- giving it a surreal feel. Then in another couple of minutes, they would all disperse and let you enjoy the grassy velveteen scenery. As you trek higher and higher, you would get a feel that you have almost reached the peak. But as you go a little further, the clouds would fly away, and another peak would be visible! Mountains do play this trick a lot. They would make you work really hard so that when you finally scale them, the ecstasy would be as huge as the bigness of the mountain.

Kudremukh peak group photo 1 Kudremukh peak group photo 2

After reaching the peak, when I could see the rest of the group smiling and cheering through the fog, the feeling was inexplicable! It was worth all the effort! I was the last person to reach around 2.45 pm. On the peak, there was a small pile of stones. People were sitting and chatting there. One small signboard with “Kudremukha peak” was also there. That became the favorite selfie and groupie spot. Just to remind us, we have scaled to the top, the chilly wind was blowing us off our feet. We had a quick bite from our packed lunches, took some photographs and started on our way back to the base camp around 3.15pm.

Old Church at Kudremukh Kudremukh - horse head shape hill

While climbing down, gravity did not play a spoil sport but the incessant drizzle had made the terrain extremely slippery. You have to be really cautious or will slip. Everybody in the group was helping and looking out for others. But still Bishwajeet managed to fall six times, thanks to his un-trek-able shoes :D ! The skill full manner in which our guide was quickly descending was a treat to watch. He was wearing chappals and hardly ever slipped.

Kudremukh lush green mountains 7 Kudremukh lush green mountains 8

Covering 18 Km trek on a mountain is not a cake walk. But still Santosh, Lohith, Swajit and Srinivas managed to take a detour to a nearby water fall. We kept on walking but the distance seemed to be inflating and never ending. For me it was hard to imagine that I could actually cover this distance going up. Finally we reached around 6.30 pm at the base camp. Divya and group were the first ones to reach back around 5.15 pm. Everybody freshened up and sat on the porch and had hot tea with pakodas along with sharing their experiences. Some were even counting the leech bites - only two people could escape the same- One was Swati given her love for the worms :D and the other was selfie-king-Harshad. So after an eventful day, we had early dinner and went to sleep. The girls room went quiet very soon while the guys continued the merry making - playing bluff - for a while.

The complete trekking experience has been finely etched in the memories of all the group members. Kudos to BH- Santosh and Lohith- for organizing the entire thing! Each member of the group was delightful. I am certainly looking forward to having more adventures with them.

Written by: Mouli
Event date: 25th & 26th July, 2015
Place: Kudremukh Peak, Karnataka
No. of hikers: 13 (09 M, 04 F)
Event Organizer: Santosh Kumar Gupta
Photos of the event: Kudremukh Monsoon Hiking: 25 - 26 July, 2015
Photo Courtesy: Sumithra, Santosh, Pradip