“Can you arrange a trek for which I can take my family also?” This question induced my thoughts to go back to my already done list of treks and find out a suitable option for families especially first timers and ladies to join. The question was from a trek mate. He has joined me for many treks but this time was thinking to take his better half also along. I admired the idea. I was also in the paradise of comfort for some treks where I had taken experienced trekkers and eventually in my part of the job was pretty much easy. But this time I knew that the challenge is on and I had to grow more responsible here for arranging a trek for families, first timers and ladies. I went inside the blanket memories of past years and was dwelling on some of my very old events and blogs. Stumbled upon some of them like Brahmagiri, Pythalmala, Thommankuthu, Nelliyampathy and Palkulamedu. The accessibility being irrepressible, cahnces for Brahmagiri and Pythalmala was ruled out in the first level. Nelliyampathy and Palkulamedu were seriously being considered and the lucky lot went to Palkulamedu over riding Nelliyampathy. Besides, the back ground works behind Nelliyampathy was scrutinized to be tougher than Palkulamedu. Thus I decided on Palkulamedu and started doing my homework.
Ringed up Saji who in fact was the very reason for my first trek to Palkulamedu getting materialized. He was very much available and we discussed on our plan. He was very confident to do the trek but my plans were different. I wanted to do the trek as a two day event which invited lot of head ache to him. The main challenge was to arrange for the accommodation. Although the actual route to Palkulamedu is via Churuli, our plans were to do the same through Kokkarakulam via Muyalpara. Kokkarakulam being a very remote place could not be relayed upon such facilities. I blindly told him “by hook or crook you need to arrange for accommodation as well. Boldly he accepted the challege. There were so many confusions and hindrances that we had to speak intermittently every alternate day. Proving “where there is a will there is a way” everything went well and things shaped up as per our plans. I started in Public transport from Kochin along with some other people and reached Karimban by 1 pm. Had our lunch from there as it was the last points where we could expect something like that to happen. Gave bullet calls to everyone who were traveling and took updates. Luckily everyone was on the way and promised to reach by the stipulated timelines.
We took an auto to Kokkarakulam which is 7 km away from Karimban and met with a small boy who has been designated by Saji to direct us to the camp site. Taking a small detour through the plantations we reached Saji’s house first and then to our campsite which was approximately 15 minutes’ walk from the road. His house and surroundings has changed a bit but their hospitality still remains unaffected. Our campsite was a three bedroom house which was still under construction in the base of the peak. More over the highlight was that it was so very near to the Kokkarakulam water falls. We could even see and hear the sound of the falls from the house. As soon as we reached the campsite all wanted to go to the falls and get wet. I took them to the falls. It was not that mighty as the flow was comparatively lesser. They haven’t got much rain this year and the fall reflected that fact. But was still more than enough for us to unleash the madness to water.
I have started getting calls from the others who have reached Kokkarakulam and hence I left them at the falls giving safety instructions and went to pick them up. By 5 pm all have reached Kokkarakulam and a rain welcomed us all to the new location. Walked to the campsite sharing the luggage. As we reached campsite the first batch have already done enough damage to the falls and was coming back. I have to take the others to the falls. By 6.30 every one returned back to the house. Some of them knew each other and some didn’t. Had a small introduction section and chitchats. By 8 pm our lunch was ready. It was a perfectly planned meal with lot of delicacies like, Rice, Curd, local Chicken curry, vegetable dishes, tapioca, Salads, Pickle, Pappad and what not. Saji and team have put their heart and soul into this event and results were awesome and tasty. Every one enjoyed their meals and went around with chit chats again. Post dinner some of us have started pitching tent outside. Though we had enough space inside the house some of them opted staying outside with sky as their roof. It was almost time to call it a day and ensuring everyone have crawled inside their blankets I stooped inside my tent and slipped off into sleep with optimistic hopes about the next day’s trekking.
The morning was pleasant except for some fog and a bit drizzling. Some of the team members went to the falls for a chilling bath. By 8.00 am our breakfast was ready. Appam and Vegetable stew was the delicacies to start the day with. By 8.45 am we were all set to start the trek. Saji’s Brother Payas leading in the front, we started our expedition. Initially through plantations and later through revenue lands and finally into forest. After somewhat 30 minutes we reached the rocky patch which was a bit trick and dangerous. But with Mother Nature’s grace we covered the area without any mishaps. The view from the base of Muyalpara was an awesome experience. The “U” shaped valley, forest covers and the distant hills were unmatchable.
We continued after a short break there with some group photo sessions. It started drizzling as soon as we entered into the grass lands. All were under cover and rain coats started popping up from the back packs. Accompanied with the drizzling mist also spread all over the places and in no time we were all engulfed in a mass of mist. After crossing the Muyalpara Grass land we almost reached the base of the highest peak, i.e. the Kurishumala but we could no longer see the peak because of the mist. To make things worst there was strong wind and that made our hiking uneasy.
By mid noon we reached on top of the highest peak there but the visibility was more or less the same. We couldn’t see above 10 feet to the front because of the mist and the severity of the wind was also becoming higher with occasional drizzling. It was fast becoming cooler. We spend some time on the top of the peak enjoying the climate.
Opened up some snack packets which got emptied in minutes. We went to the edge of the suicide point but not of much use. The mist was still playing the villain role in our adventure tale. We waited for half an hour there expecting the same to get cleared and get a view of the surroundings. Our expectations were in vain and it seemed that the climate was just getting worse and vigorous. We started climbing down. It was much easier an act that we covered much of the altitude in minimal time. At the base of the peak the climate was comparatively pleasant. It was good to look at the peak engulfed in mist. We got intermittent views of the grass lands and shola forest.
Our next destination was the Palkulamedu Pond. The whole place is named after this Pond. Walking west through the grass land we reached the pond in 45 minutes. The view of the pond from the grass lands is simply superb. Out of nowhere a stream jostles through the grass lands and enter the rocky area creating a small pond and small water falls. The pond is 3 feet deep and enough for people to get a dip. The pond over flows through the steep rock to form the Kokkarakulam falls where we had our amusements yesterday and today morning. It was a good feeling to realize that we actually reached the top of it. It was kind of an infinity pool described in myths.
By this time Saji and team had taken our lunch ready there. We had hot chappathis and Vegetable curry. After the long walk everyone was hungry and it was tasty as it was hot. We had plans to carry the lunch but it would have been a bad idea if we had done that. In this climate no one could eat dried out chappathis and cold curry. Saji expelled my expectations in this suggesting to bring the Lunch over there by noon. There was a halt of almost 45 minutes there before the final descend. The descend was completely harmless and easy. Just a downhill walk through easy slops.
By 3 pm we started from Palkulam pond and reached camp site by 4.30 pm. Awaiting us there was another feast which was unique from the local cuisine. They have made beef and tapioca biriyani for us. Sumptuous it was I must say. While we were having food it again drizzled and by the time we were ready to start it subsided. We went to the parking area and had to say a hard good bye to all of the team mates. Ensuring everyone started I also started saying good bye to Saji and team thanking Mother Nature for another fantastic experience.
Picture courtesy : Rijesh, Abdul Khader,Bindu, Ajeesh, Vijayaraj Pillai, Jaisurya, Vignesh, Abhinay, Salim Krishna, Ajesh.