It has been a while now since I have done some serious trekking. Though I have done Meesapulimala thrice in between those were all lousy trips. Lousy in the sense taking the trodden path would not always give a kick. Especially for me being at a crowded place always irritated my senses and Meesapulimala being the most spoken place now a day was devastated with loads of people and littering. With people climbing illegally from Kolukkumala side it has become the highest dumping yard in South India with loads and loads of plastic waste being thrown away every day. My first two trips to Meesapulimala were with friends and clients but the last trip was arranged as a cleaning mission. We could bag almost 12 big sacks of plastic and other waste. It was fair enough a try to give a relief to my guilt feeling for taking two groups. But was not enough to satisfy the explorer inside who always wanted to get lost in the wild, get stranded in the loneliness, and get busted with the tough terrains. I wanted to spend a day in the wilderness of the nature below the boundless sky stepping on the limitless grass lands and unspoiled forest leaving behind nothing but footsteps.
Manoj Sir was my only beacon of hope. He was the one who introduced me to the wonderful fancy lands of Thoniyamkadu, Pappanithodu falls and Irumulachikallu. He never disappointed me. When I called up the results were the same. He promised to take me to a new place and that is how I came to know about the pristine land of Muthukora. When explained I realized that it was the hill top which I could see opposite to us during the Thoniyamkadu trek. My senses got activated and planned the trip for the very next Sunday. As I was in Kottayam on Saturday I started early morning to reach Manoj sirs home by 7.30 am. To remind and reiterate that I am entering into the premise of a nature lover I was welcomed by the flowers and spice plants. I could see lot of birding also there. Could spot common babbler, Drongo, Ruffous tree pie, green barbet, Indian Robin and all very close. I wondered how this much birding is happening near human residence. After having a tea from his home we started for Muthukora.
We had to go to the base of Muthukora hills which is 3 km away from his home.. There is tarred road till the base and after that it is a strenuous off-roading of 4 km to reach the half of Muthukora hill. It takes almost 1 hour to travel this 4 km. The jeep moved slow and steady. Manoj sir managed the machine like an untamed horse and I just relaxed on the humpy dumpy road. Manoj Sir owns a property there where he has plans to establish an eco-friendly resort kind of a thing and promote adventure tourism and accompanied activities like trekking, birding, nature walks, spice garden, Now this property is getting developed as a plantation farm which includes coffee, spices, pepper, banana, vegetables and all. There was a temporary shed erected for workers. Manoj Sir started preparing black tea here and by the time I ventured out to have a close look at the avian population there. I could see more varieties of birds here like, parrot, red vented bulbul, orange minivet, flame backed woodpecker, jungle fowl, common babbler, Drongo, Ruffous tree pie, green barbet and more unidentified birds and “N” number of butterflies symbolizing the fresh air. After the black tea we started the real trek. We started our trek through a muddy jeep road. Some 20 years before there were almost 40 families residing here and now that it has narrowed to three. Facilities and access made people migrate to towns and abandon this place.
After some 10 minutes we deviated from the jeep road into a smaller and steeper trail. Covering the steep part we reached a small hillock where I could see an old bungalow. The might of the structure was still there even after 20 years of abandoning. The structure was made of stone and that increased the beauty of it. There was a beautiful view point of the valley on one side and the other side of it was a trail into the forest area. We could see the Muthukora valley playing hide and seek inside the hovering clouds. I wish I could stay there for a night. It would be a super experience to spend a night over there in tents enjoying the wind blow from the valley. There was enough space to pitch at least 5 tents and the outside corridor and sit out was big enough to facilitate more. This was our first break point.
It was the beginning of the grass lands after this place. It was not just normal grass lands like 1 foot high grass vegetation. The grass grew up more than 10 feel covering our heads. We had to crawl inside making our way forward. The sharp edges of the grass gave scratches and bruises all over and to make things worse I was wearing a half sleeve. The floor was completely paved with rocky patches and hence we slipped and missed the step every now and then. I was facing difficult to move in even with my shoe on but wondered how Manoj sir managed to jump from rock to rock even without a chappals. It was evident that there was no tress passing here for years as there were no trace of any trail going forth. There were under trails which made it clear that animal movements are frequent. Manoj sir said there are deer, wild boar and porcupine in abundance here.
It was very difficult to move. We could hardly see 5 feet to the front and was cutting our way up the hill. At some points we had to crawl on top of rocks to take a look around. Rocks and fallen trees were always creating obstacles to our way forward. We could see the top of Muthukora inside a gush of mist far away. The very sight of the tip gave a push to reach there. It was also very sharp creating arrays of doubts in my mind. We moved making the top of the peak as a landmark. There was hardly any trail. We were just making our way into the overgrown grass. His knowledge about the flora and fauna of this place was vivid. He explained everything on the way to me. There were some vantage points on the way and we covered almost all of them. The fog kept on coming in the wind and in a split second used to disappear as well. We could get the wonderful view of the entire valley from some places and the view of the top as well. We had at least 1 more hour to ascend and I could figure it out from the view of the top. One side of the peak was a steep drop and wind was very strong. I warned myself from getting on to the steep edges. As we proceeded it started raining and the drizzle brought the fog along with it. The entire place was covered in mist. Nothing was visible above 10 feet. I was disappointed that I would miss the views from the top if mist doesn’t part.
In 1 hour we reached the top. It was drizzling. We waited for some time and I had no hope. I had already made up my mind to have this view in the next trip. But all of a sudden the were blessed by mother nature that a gush of wind took away all the mist and the views started popping out of the blue. The clear view of the entire valley and layers and layers of hill ranges was a literal feast to our eyes. Towards the right was the Wagamon hill and towards the left was the Thoniyamkadu Kolahalamedu ranges. Sunlight spread across the grasslands and they turned golden. The shades of clouds created wonderful pattern on the canopies. Though the view didn’t last for long as mist covered the place again I consider that as a blessing from her for unveiling the beauty to me at least for some minutes. Drizzling stopped and It was time for us to move back. We were planning to get down through the other side of the mountain and Manoj Sir warned me that it is not going to be easy. The terrain is tough from this point as we had some rocky patch to cover which was very trick and dangerous. I had to crawl down through creepers to cover this area. Getting down was almost impossible in some place. Our way was blocked by huge rocks every time.
After losing some elevation we took our break over a comparatively plain rock. The valley was just beneath. It became sunny by this time and view started coming in. We had our packed lunch here. Manoj sir unveiled the bunch of his plans to create the eco-friendly adventure tourism. We discussed about possibilities and proximities. His ideas were indeed very bright and I wished him all success. The break ran little longer and the start after that was bit slow. From this area we had to get into the shola cover. The shola cover was filled with large trees of tea. Unlike their siblings in the plantations they grew mighty as much as 20 feet.
From there we entered into thick forest. The soil was very lose and wet. There were no trails anywhere. The only direction we had was that we had to get down. So we started losing some elevation. It was very difficult. At times the canopy restricted the light to come inside and it was almost pitch dark like dusk. We would have crossed one hour through the shola. Losing the way again going back taking another route. It was fun. This is what I had desired for. Finally we reached an old house inside thick foliage. The house was completely made In woods. The thick covers already engulfed half of its might. We took a little break here which was inevitable at this point of time. I was also feeling exhausted. After a short while we started. Manoj Sir said it is easy now. Just a walk of 40 minutes to reach back the base where we parked our vehicle. That was disheartening to me to get out of this forest but had to. In another 45 minutes or so we reached the camp shed. One more black tea to sit down with and returned back to his house. By 5.30 pm we reached his house and it was time for me to bid good bye. I couldn’t express my gratitude to him. He gave me what exactly I wanted. With a heart full of joy I started back to base. My body was full of bruises which I wish don’t heal so that I can remember this day.