Sunday, July 10, 2005

A Lovely Debut


I had never heard about hikes before. I knew nothing about hiking. I just assumed it to be a kind of picnic. I had registered for the hike just to enjoy & have fun with friends.
The first hike of my life was an overnight hike organized by the Podar Hikers’ Club to Peb fort which is situated in the Matheran range. This was in 2005 when I was in FYBCOM. We spent the night at a playground in Neral where we reached by bus. We played a lot of games throughout the night. I remember we even played a few games of cards under a street light, right in the middle of the street! Sir even taught us some management games. I hardly knew any seniors then.
Early in the morning the next day, we reached the base village and readied ourselves for the trek. After climbing for a while and having reached a considerable height, we stopped for rest. We had walked for just 15-20 minutes and we beginners were already panting. We asked the seniors, “aur kitna baaki hai?” and pat came the reply, “arre abhi toh 5% bhi nahi hua hai yaar”. What?? O My God!!!
I don’t remember much after that. I think we just kept on moving and moving. Since it was our first trek, the climb seemed very very long. Maybe this was because we were new to the terrain. But this was the moment when for the first time our bodies were getting a feel of what trekking is all about.
The climb was superb. First, we reached a ridge from where we crossed to the other side of the mountain. The breeze here was so cool and the scenery breath-taking! There was greenery everywhere and the sky appeared greyish with the monsoon clouds.
It must’ve taken us 3 hours to reach the top. We passed by a flag post just before reaching the top. There was a cave atop (which I suppose was actually a temple). The path outside the cave was very tricky because on one side there was this huge rocky face of the mountain and the other side was a steep slope leading down to the deep valley. And add to it the rain, which made it a bit slippery. Water was easily available in the cisterns (water tanks carved in the rock) which were located just half a minute from the cave. But since the path was very narrow and there were people from other hiking groups as well, one had to be very cautious while walking. We rested in the cave, had our food and refilled our bottles with some much needed water.
After that, we were supposed to climb up a ladder to reach the topmost part of the fort. But as I said earlier there were many people from other groups as well. As a result, there was a long queue for using the ladder. This would have been time-consuming. So, our sir decided to traverse the entire route towards Matheran. This turned out to be a very good decision indeed.
It was just 12 in the noon and the day was so pleasant. It being the rainy season, there was lot of wind and the temperature was cool. The route from Peb fort to Matheran was the best part of the hike. On our left hand side was the mighty mountain and to our right was the deep valley. Also, there were small waterfalls in between. All this made our walk quite thrilling! I was glad to be in the lead because while climbing up I was among the Tail Enders. Since I was a beginner, I knew not much about the surrounding mountains.  However, the view was simply outstanding.
I remember crossing the col/ridge that connects Peb with Matheran (just below the Panorama point). It had steps on it. The momentum of the wind was tremendous and that force could’ve made anyone fly!
Later on, we made our way up towards the famous Matheran mini rail tracks. Most of us were exhausted by then. The rest of our journey was spent walking on the rail tracks. The beauty of the scenery was really fascinating. However, it was not a cakewalk because the stones on the rail tracks made it harder for our already tired feet. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable experience!
After a brief walk, we arrived at the tar road. I enjoyed the tranquility of the walk and the memories of the day’s adventure flashed by my mind. Soon, we reached a hotel/dhaba where we had snacks (read: vada pav, missal pav, chips) and cold drinks etc.  We waited for the bus and soon it was time for departure.
For me, it was a very good debut as a hiker. The hike was very amazing, adventurous and lovely too! After such a wonderful trek, the body is tired and naturally needs rest. A hot bath refreshes the hiker and at the end of the day awaits a sweet, sound and deep sleep. Zzzzz…

~Regards & Cheers,