Sunday, July 24, 2005

History Repeats Itself

LOST: in The Adventures Of TAK MAK

TakMak was my second hike, also during the monsoon of 2005. It was a one day hike organized by the Podar Hikers' Club. There was greenery everywhere and that was pleasant for the eyes. The climate was cool. At the start of the trek, Phadke sir narrated a couple of incidents that had taken place here in the past. It was during this trek that I got to know some seniors, mostly from the 2005-06 batch.
The path was beautiful and we crossed a few small streams which indicated that the region had received good amount of rainfall. In other words, we could as well expect some rain. The climb was good and the slopes of the mountain were all green and grassy. The entire region, in fact, had good greenery. After climbing for 2 hours or so, we reached a sort of small plateau. By now, we were already more than halfway up. We rested here for around 15-20 minutes to enjoy the cool breeze. And that was very refreshing indeed!
We continued with our trek. I think we were just 30-40 minutes from the top. The final slope was a bit steeper than the earlier climb. Finally, we reached the top of this ruined fort. It had a few water tanks and remains of a few rock slabs. Once at the top, the view of the horizon was amazing! The sky was greyish with the monsoon clouds and the valley below was covered with lush green vegetation comprising of shrubs, bushes and trees. We could actually feel the touch of the clouds!
Everyone settled down in small groups all over the place and then we had our food. We had some music also – ‘Onu’ played his harmonica post lunch. Well, I must say it was a treat to hear the melody in nature’s company. Some of us visited a few water tanks to fetch drinking water. These tanks were located somewhere below about 5-7 minutes from the top. In fact a few students went ahead to explore more. We must’ve been at the top for an hour or two. It was time to return to the base village.
Initially, I was among the people who were in the front. There were some 5 to 6 people ahead of me. They were all experienced and very quick. For most of the part, I was able to keep up with their pace. But since the people at the back were slow, we were instructed to slow down a bit so that the link was maintained. We waited for a minute or two.
The path until now was easily recognizable as it was bare and without much tree cover. But the path which lay ahead had dense forest cover and there was a probability of losing the way…
Meanwhile, the rest of the group was really slow. Therefore, my group decided to move ahead once again. I however decided to wait longer. I don’t remember why! It was a split second decision. Everything was happening so fast. As I sat, I could see a few people coming downwards, but they were very far and too slow. So I decided to continue my descend journey. By now, the people ahead, had covered a lot of distance and were no where to be seen. And now there was a sizeable gap between them and me.
I picked up speed and was descending well. I continued along the exposed trail but soon realized that the path did not seem to be familiar. I paused for a moment and it struck me that it wasn’t the same route we had climbed up earlier in the morning. All doubts were confirmed when I realized that I had still not heard the sound of the waterfall/stream we had passed by earlier in the day. I knew I was lost! Perhaps I missed the correct one at a diversion. I started feeling a bit tensed. There was absolute silence around me. The only sound audible was that of the buzzing insects. I was alone in the dense thicket and that naturally worried me. I started shouting for help and called out names but to no avail. But on a positive note I’d like to add that “I was close to nature at that moment!”
I was now separated from the main group. I felt there was no point in going back upwards again as it would have been time consuming and useless. I decided to continue further as the route looked promising. As I continued downwards, I could occasionally hear the vehicles on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway. That gave me some hope. And now, getting down quickly to the bus in the base village safely was the only thought in my mind – and this thought automatically boosted my speed.
I’d almost reached the base level when I came across a stream. And I decided to follow the path of the stream. The water in the stream was so pure that one could actually see its bed. I dragged myself through the knee deep waters of the stream. The stream was cold as it consisted of the fresh rainwater. That was a nice adventure in itself! I suppose I must’ve got down more or less on the Northern or North-Western side of the mountain, whereas we had started the hike somewhere from the Western slopes. Still there was no sign of a human.
The base village was situated at a considerable distance from the foot of the mountain. There were a lot of cultivated fields in this area. After walking in the stream for about 10-12 minutes, I reached a few cultivated fields. I was relieved to see some people working there and asked them for directions to the village. I followed their directions and kept on confirming whether I was on the right track with whoever I met. After crossing a few more farms, I reached a ‘tabela’ and entered the village. I asked a few children who were playing there about the location of our bus. It was just around the corner. I felt so happy!
And you know what I was the first one to reach the bus. That actually surprised me. It was about 4pm. I wasn’t feeling tired. In fact, I felt jubilant. After changing into a dry pair of clothes, I sat on the roof of the bus relaxing and recollecting what sir had told in the morning at the start of the trek. He had mentioned that TakMak is a place where people tend to get lost!
I just proved him right.