After the first Days trek to Ayampara and Ayiravallipara we had a good night’s sleep at the resort. I remember it was raining throughout the night. It was raining all over Kerala and we people were venturing something really scary, to trek to Ponmudi Hills and then to Bison valley from the base of the hills. By 8.00 am our breakfast and packed lunch was ready. We had breakfast and kept our packed lunch in the bus which will come to Ponmudi by road to pick us up. From resort we were dropped to Braimoor estate from where the actual trek starts. As soon as we started from the resort it was raining heavily. We could not even see through the front glass of the traveler. I knew that it was going to be a difficult day ahead. Moving inside the Mankayam Braimoor road it was almost pitch dark. The rain was getting stronger and had to intensions to subside. After dropping us in the Braimoor estate our Vehicle went back. It was time for us to start trekking.
We started trekking through the mud road which was earlier used as a horse track by the British in their time and later developed as a jeep track by the estate authorities. After a while we entered into the forest track which was hardly two foot track inside the slopes of an abandoned plantation. We had to take some steep short cuts in order to cut short the distance though the tea plantations. We had attained some height by this time and reached an open area where some short films has been shot recently. Some of the remnants of their shoot was still there which become a subject for our photography skills. We had a short break here. Rain was intermittently getting stronger and mist was playing hide and seek with the mountains. We could hardly get any views. Sometimes the wind would take the gush of mist away and will give us a peekaboo view of the valley below. We had some photo sessions there and as it started raining again we also started moving.
Soon we reached the dense forest covers and started walking inside the foliage. The sky was still cloudy and there was very less amount of light coming inside the foliage. The growth included very high and huge trees and creepers. The floor of the trekking track was completely laid down with fallen leaves leaches started popping up as soon as we entered their territory. Everyone started getting intruders in their limbs. We tried protesting with salt but due to rain we could not make our efforts much successful.
This track is also frequented by jeep’s which goes to the Ayyappa temple inside the dense forest. Our first destination was also the temple. The way was blocked in several places due to fallen trees. Walking for some 45 minutes we reached the temple. It was some auspicious day in the temple and there were other people also there. I have not seen this temple opened in the last three times when I visited here. I was lucky enough to see it opened. This temple is very old in fact over a hundred years old. The tribals and the inhabitants believe this temple to be very powerful and life saver for their believes. We took another gap here to pluck out the leeches. The trek trail to Varayattumotta is a deviation from this place. The trek trail was flooded with rain water in some places and we could see so many small streams widening enough to gulp our shoes.
We had already covered half the distance from Braimoor to Ponmudi. From this place we had to cover the rest of the distance in minimal time as it is going to be the most leeches infested area for the whole day and slow pace would invite more and more of them. Rain was at its best. None of us could either take our cameras or our mobiles out to take pictures. I felt sorry for not capturing these auspicious moments. In another 1 hour we reached close to Ponmudi top station. As soon as we reached an open area everyone went on plucking out the leaches. There were so many of them crawling all over us. Some people even got bites in the head. I wondered how these creatures managed to climb up there.
We got a bit of a view of the valleys from here. The whole area was completely getting immersed in mist. We reached the road in another 10 to 15 minutes and started walking towards the upper sanitarium. Our Vehicle has already reached there and we managed to find it without much search. As it was a holiday there were so many people out there. Regular tourists. We unpacked our lunch packets near to the cafeteria and all were hungry enough to empty the packets in minutes. As we were having lunch rain again started and strengthened.
Our next destination was Bison valley which is a core forest area near to the shangili forest range. Our guide has already shown his reluctance and doubts. But we managed to make him take the lead. The trek trail to Bison valley starts behind the cafeteria. Initially through the shola forest and then entering the endless grass lands. We first stopped at Seethatheertham which is a small rivulet originating from the grass lands which never gets dried up. As per Indian mythology it is believed that Goddess Seetha Devi has once satiated her thirst from this rivulet during the Vanavasa period. As soon as we covered the Shola forest it started raining. Strong wind made things next to impossible for us. The climate was so against us but we had no second thoughts than to continue. Rain was at its best. We slowly moved through the grass lands and rocky patches. After the initial stage the under growth was higher and this is a very tricky place where we may come across animals. We threw stones into the growth from a distance to confirm there is no animal presence there and our guides went in front for a reconfirmation of the same. Two of us could take the strong wind and rain anymore as they suffered some minor muscle sprain issue. They said they will stay back on a safe place and will join us when we return back.
Letting them rest on a safe rock we went ahead. We could not see anything due to heavy mist. Rain and wind catalyzed our miseries. We went down the first and second hills and reached the place called Balcony. From balcony we will get a bird’s eye view of the entire Shangili forest range in normal climate. But this time we didn’t manage to get any. Climate was becoming worse and worse. Rain and wind strengthened and I started developing an intuition which was stopping me from proceeding further. Something inside restricted me to go further and I always give respect to such intuitions. Besides there was no point in proceeding further in this climate as we won’t get any better views from any place further ahead. We decided to get back and started trekking back. We took as shorter trail back and reached the others in one hour or so. By 3.30 4.00 pm we reached back to the Top station. Some of us took refreshments from the cafeteria and some others just wanted to change into dry clothes and get back. By four we started heading back to Trivandrum. Others were dropped in the railway station and I confirmed with all that they are getting their connections.
It was one such heavy rain trek that I would never forget. I wonder the rules of nature never liaise with ours. I remember sometime in the past when we organize a monsoon trek it would be dry as it can be and some treks where we don’t expect rain to happen would be as wet as this one that no one ever dare to do it one more time. I must thank Mother Nature for keeping us safe for the entire two days trip and Thanks for the entire team who shown their whole hearted endurance and enthusiasm throughout the trek.
Picture courtesy : Co trekkers. Some pics are taken from co trekkers collections and their blogs.