Pappani Irumalachikallu Kalthotti Second Day
The sleep that came and befriended in the last hours of yesterday’s night stood adamant to part with my eyes. The comfortable warmth inside the tent was sufficient enough to push back the chillness outside. I wanted to get out… but my position inside the tent was comfortable enough to vote against the very thought of getting out. I crawled inside and lowered the zib of my tent and poked out my head outside the tent. Chilling cold outside it was. I could hear so many familiar and unfamiliar bird chirrups. I looked up and could see the faint silhouette of the Kalthotti hill ranges just opposite to me. Sun was trying to pop out somewhere from behind the hills. The morning rays has already started coming out of the side of the giant hill and gave the marginal clouds a tint of red like a pot of sindhoor has went upside down over the edges of the sky.
Slowly came outside and stretched my limbs. My muscles showed some resistance of the treacherous trek of the previous day. I rubbed my eyes to get a clear view of the surroundings. A small wind went passed me giving me Goosebumps with the chillness. All the team members have started walking up. To my long left, near to yesterday’s fireplace, I could see Shino fighting hand on hand with the fire to make our bed coffee. I joined him. I could see the coffee boiling inside the black pot. A hot cup of black coffee would be better than any friend at this point of time. I sat near to the fireplace in such a way that the warmth was hitting me. In a short while I could feel the heat of the black coffee in my palms served in paper cups.
The mist was still there covering the vast grass land. They hugged together like lovers. But I could see the faint view of the surrounding better than yesterday. It was all misty yesterday by the time we reached our campsite. There were high hills, steep rocks, deep valleys, the jeep track to uppukulam, Shola forest patches covered in mist etc. Heart soothening scenes they are. It is only day break. We are expected to start the trek to Kalthotti by 8 am only. I started exploring the whole place. There were some vantage points from where we could take a good look at the Yenthayar valley and the thickets around. I could see so many high hills around some of them very familiar to me some of them unknown. I spotted Kurishumala and Thangal para in Wagamon Range. Muthukora hills, Kozhipoovan hills, Illickal kallu, Pezhakka Kunnu etc were also located with the help of Manoj Sir. I wish I could step over each of them before the good days of the life are passed on and are replaced by sore skin and white hairs.
I returned back to campsite before 8 am and completed the morning ablutions in the ice cold water of Pappani River. There were no toilets, no toiletries, closing doors, ceilings nothing. The shola forest paved shade and privacy and Pappani River provided water. It was a new experience to all of us who have been enjoying the so called new generation facilities of daily routines. It was like going back into the nature from where the very existence started. Without losing much time all came ready and we had our western style breakfast to the contrary of the morning ablutions. As it is difficult to keep normal food intact in this climate we had to opt for Bread, Bananas and Jam. It was starting to be sunny. It was a very clear day and hot too. Even at 8 am in the morning the Sun has started juicing our fluids. All were well set to start the journey as a one minded team with only one goal in Mind and that was Kalthotti. Surprisingly Shyam whose leg got injured in the previous days trek was in front motivating all others.
The trail from Irumalachikallu to Kalthotti is mostly of rocky grassland. We couldn’t find any trail or way. We had to cut our own way inside the 8 foot growth. Only sense of direction we had was the fact that we had to move up up and up. Sometimes we had to crawl over rock boulders and some time we had to bend down to our knees to cover the rapid growth. Very often would come to a dead end or obstacle on our way up but would have to find an alternate way up the hill. The heat was at its best and after 40 minutes of treacherous walk it was very heart breaking to hear from Manoj that to reach the top we would have to cover this much more. By the time we had acquired a lot of altitude. A look behind the back was really motivating. We could see the whole vast land of green carpet where we pitched our tents yesterday. We could see our tents down the hill like small dost and the jeep like a prototype. Shino was somewhere there guarding our camp and valuables but could not see him.
Legs started to slow down. Everyone was sweating profusely. The enthusiasm at the beginning has been evaporated by Sun god. The time we are taking to reach on top of the Kalthotti peak is nowhere good to any standards. But the fact that there is no trail was a good enough reason to excuse the elongated time. Everyone was giving their best and I could get that feel at each step. We helped the front and rear person, supported the weak, consolated the tired and admired the leading. Finally by 10.30 am we reached on top of Kalthotti. It was a mind blowing view waiting over that peak. Kalthotti is a huge rock hill top in “U” shape covered by occasional shola patches and grass lands. It would be something next to impossible to climb over that.
We could see the origin of Pappani River. There were small rivulets and water flow over the rocks each contributes to the birth of Pappani River. Every drop matters and the life line of Irumulachikallu, originates from here. I wish I could get on top of that and take a look at the other side of the hill which I anticipate to be a dead slop with decent undergrowth. But for the time being this is our target. Sunrays were getting refracted on the flow over the rocks. On the peak of these Sunny days Kalthotti seemed very wet and moist. The views to the left side were also encouraging. We could see the clear view of the entire stretch of Wagamon hill ranges, Unknown tea plantation towards the valley and the clear sky with white clouds as if cotton balls are spread across the horizon. A view so unbeatable and irresistible.
It was getting hotter. And it was time for us to return back. I suggested taking another trail on the way back and Manoj Sir was all set to deviate from the regular trail. From the place where we were standing there was a steep descend down the hill. The elevation was little greater than the one which we climbed up now. If we manage to make it to the valley then we can take the right slope of Kalthotti towards the plain grounds. It seemed reasonably flat ground after the slop and a bit of ascend. I did a feasibility check on getting down and found possible but hard. But after the descend it was expected to be a cake walk. Taking the challenge on us all started descending down the slope. With everyone moving closer we supported each other to get down to the valley safe and swift. The real view of the Kalthotti peak was from this place. Once again proved that a little stretch will always give results. A small ascend took us to the top of the right slope of Kalthotti and we started moving down to the plain grounds.
But things were not as easy as it seemed from the top of the peak. There were vertical falls of 10 foot almost two three places on the way but eventually Manoj sir found a way ahead every time. There were some tricky and dangerous descends on the way but we all made it to the plain ground without any major injuries. Everyone would have thanked Mother Nature after reaching the plains. We followed the jeep track passing over our campsite and our destination was the Madamakkulam falls. The 4 hour long walk has juiced all of the team and everyone wanted to have a break. It seemed getting a dip in the ice cold waters of Madamakkulam would be the best idea to wash out all the fatigue. As Madamakkulam was bit of a dangerous place we went to the upper portion of Madamakkulam which was reasonably safe and secure. Every one took a dip in the cold water and it really did have a rejuvenating effect on all of us. Time passed and by 1 pm we had to return as per the schedule. We went back to the campsite and packed out things and it was pack up time.
By the time the other jeep also joined and we had to say a hard good bye to that lovely place. While sitting in the jeep on the way back to Yenthayar every one was cherishing the lovely memories of last two days. We had our local cuisine lunch on the way back and proceeded to Yenthayaar as some of the team members wanted to catch bus and trains from nearest town. Stopped at Manoj sirs house for a quick freshen up and tea. Shared our sweet experience with his family and got ready to move on to our normal lives. 10 people from different parts of the South India grouped together to accomplish one common goal. The last two days have created a deep bonding between us. Every one left shaking hands and assuring to meet next time. I was the last one to leave his home and I did it thanking Mother Nature for keeping all of us safe for two days and god for giving such a fantastic team. Hoping to see them again in another journey. Signing off for now…