Silent Valley Yellapatti Trekking
It has been a while since I have visited Meesapulimala. In the year 2016 and 2017 I have visited Meesapulimala more than 15 times taking almost 300 people up there. Every month I had at least 1 visit to this mighty peak. September 2017 was the last visit with group and that visit has made me dejected. I could find a pile of garbage up there from the Illegal trekkers through Kolukkumala side and could see KFDC struggling to remove those. They had their limitation in terms of Manpower and other constrains. That triggered up my senses. I was so very upset on the current state of the place. It could be arguably considered as the highest dumping yard at an altitude of 8600 feet. I felt responsible also and wanted to do something practical apart from mourning and going back and vanishing into my daily routines. I could not stop myself bouncing into action to do something to change the sad state of this beautiful and ecologically sensitive place. On my return I spoke to the KDFC authority and proposed my plan. I planned for a cleaning activity exclusively for Meesapulimala. That cleaning was planned on October 2nd 2017. We 10 people have went up there removing almost 600 plastic bottles and other garbage’s. Authorities facilitated us with food and transportation. At the end of the day we felt relieved and relaxed having been able to do something back to nature. After that I haven’t planned any event to Meesapulimala and had turned down many enquiries that came my way. After a long gap when this time I planned for another event in that area all this memories came bouncing back to me.
But this time It was planned like a two day event camping at Silent valley base camp and trekking to Yellapatti covering more than 18 km a day and Going back to Munnar from there without returning back to base camp. I have planned for this route long back but got postponed due to time constrains and in between this route got banned for some reason. This time with the help of the acquaintances in Dept We got permission for the same. Thus the trek was on on a week end. Close to 22 people from across South India have registered for the event and all were requested to report at Munnar by Noon. From 11.30 itself people started reporting and by 2.00 pm all were there and our jeeps were ready. I had already went to the KFDC office in the morning and cleared all formalities so that we can start as soon as all are reported. From Munnar to Silent Valley base camp is roughly an hour’s journey through the plantations and forest towards the end. There is a tarred road till Silent valley plantation and the last three Km are off road track.
By 4.00 pm we reached the base camp. All the 20 tents were booked and there was a pretty decent crowd there. After getting settled in the tents we went for a short walk up the trail. We visited the Sky cottage Kurinji falls and walked up a little through the trail. By 5.30 we came back to the camp. It was getting dark and climate was very pleasant. Temperature was falling down soon after the sun set. By 7.00 pm itself it was unbearably cold. The thermometer set at the camp showed 18 degree by then. Camp fire was set by 7.00 pm. Lot of people assembled around but there were no particular activities. As it was a larger crowd catching up with all was not possible also. Our team gathered around near the tents and chit chatted till the dinner was served. Soon after the dinner most of the team members crawled into the tents. Sleeping bags were given and proved very useful. By 9 pm temperature dropped to 14 degrees. We no longer sit outside and chat. By 10 00 pm all went to respective tents. The night was unbearably cold and I could not sleep well.
Woke up early morning into the Sunshine. The head of the hills opposite the camp site was shining basking in the sun. The light was good enough and I took some pictures of the camp. Breakfast was served by 8.00 am followed by the lunch packet distribution. Food was given in steel containers which was a new thing. Good that we can minimize waste. By 8.40 we were allotted a guide and we started trekking from the base camp. The trail is the same for all of us (trekkers to Yellapatti and Meesapulimala). Our plan was like reaching the Rhodomansion, climbing up to Photo point, get a view of Meesapulimala and later coming back to Rhodovalley and taking the deviation to Yellapatti Track.
The trail started through the track from Base camp to Sky cottage, later deviating into the short cut, through the plantation, Jeep track to Rhodo valley and all. We took the short route through the forest. Though it is little steep we can cover more distance taking the short route. The day was pleasant and sunny. But comfortably cold. The Jeep track from Silent valley to Rhodomansion was getting concreted at some points as the jeep track was completely washed away in the last flood. Sky was clear and it was getting warmer as we climbed up and came to the open areas. In between we had some photo sessions.
Rhodo valley was our first official break. We took rest for 10 minutes there and refilled our bottles. We climbed up to photo point leaving all our luggage there and took the view of Mighty Meesapulimala. The view was awesome as the climate was so very clear. Sky was clear and no sign of any mist or clouds. We could get a 360 degree view of the surroundings from Photo point. We took a group photo here and in 15 minutes we had to climb down. As we had to traverse 14 more km from here we couldn’t spend more time there. Coming down to Rhodomansion we took our bags and readily started trekking down the trail to Yellapatti.
The trail started through pine forest. The trail was wide enough at the beginning narrowing down to a single foot trail and finally turning into a non-trail track. After a short while itself we started seeing the rolling hills and valleys margined by the pine trees. Crossing the check dam in Rhodovalley we entered into the Yellapatti trail. The terrain was more or less plain. Apart from some small ascends and descends there was no challenging terrain in the initial stage. This trail is not frequented by tourists and hence the wildness was very visible. Most of the places the trail was covered in overgrowing undergrowth and creepers. We were walking through the side of a mountain gradually increasing the altitude through that zig zag trail. Close to the valleys some shola was there and mostly it was pine trees. At open areas due to the immense sun the undergrowth has started drying out.
I was doing the sweep and this time the team pace was adequate as per standards. As it was not a strenuous climb we didn’t took much breaks also. At some places we had to simply walk through the over growth and join the trail at the other end. After reaching the first vantage point we started getting prolific views of the surrounding estates and mountains. We were rolling through mountains over mountain keeping the altitude the same. Though there was not much cover and we were exposed to the direct sun we didn’t feel much tiredness as there was constant breeze up there. Almost all the curves gave us superb views.
Yellapatti town was visible from the top down there in the valley. The valleys were so very beautiful. If this trip was conducted in post monsoon months we could have got the wonderful green carpet view of them. Covering the grass lands and the occasional shola covers we kept on moving. View of the distant hills from the valley was mind smoothening. Continued our journey further down the track.
At 1.30 pm we stopped for lunch near a small water source. It was in the middle of now where. Surrounded by grasslands, forest at one side and Small Mountain on the other side. There was small water source nearby which suffice our cleaning and washing needs. The flow was not promising enough to make it drinkable. There were some Rhododendron trees nearby with flowers. Though this was the season we could not see much trees with flower.
Post Lunch trekking session started with a hard climb followed by the normal terrain. But the climb right after the Lunch made everyone sweat a bit. We started getting better views of the valley. Some portions of the reservoir of Mattupatti Dam. We were trekking through a clear trail which was a fire line is what I Think. We were moving through a zig zag line down the peak. The curves were far apart that we didn’t feel the descend much. Our jaws dropped thinking about people making this trail years back to transport tea and woods. The effort they made in those years is simply outstanding. Even now there is no connect for this trail with a motorable road.
View were all around us. There was a frame at all angles. Cameras and phone were busy. Could see at least 14 to 18 ranges of mountains in the distance. . After moving through the zig zag trail for a while we took a short route which was s steep ascend. That ascend ended in a thick sola forest. The canopy was so very thick that it was dark inside at 2.30 pm. It was a brief walk and again entered into grass land. There were two more tough ascends and after that it was comfortable track. Getting down from the peak and climbing up the next one we could see the zig zag trail very clearly. The second peak gave us impeccable view of the surroundings.
The walk was still not over. We are expected to reach Yellapatti only by 5.30 may be 6. The pace slowed down. Everyone was little tired from the long hours walk. By 4.30 we reached the final lap of the trek. This stretch leads us to the Yellapatti tea estate and from estate we can get into road from where we are supposed to be picked up. The final descend was bit tricky at some points. We had to literally crawl down on our back to get down safely. Getting down further we started getting clearer views of Yellapatti town.
We reached the Yellapatti estate by 5.15 and after this point it was just a casual walk down the jeep and tractor track. We appreciated the beauty of the plantation margined by thick forest at the end. Soon we reached the ground level. There were some celebrations going on in the town. Football match was going on and people gathered near to the open field. We showed our pass at the Yellapatti estate gate and we were allowed to pass through. We were sharp in time and our pick up jeep were already there. Without wasting much time we started from Yellapatti towards Munnar. It is a 45 minutes ride from Yellapatti to Munnar. We reached Munnar town past 6.00. All were really tired. By 6.30 all departed from Munnar town to their own destinations. It was one such momentous trek in terms of views, Kms to cover, Climate etc. Altogether I got a feedback from all that all have enjoyed the trek. Hoping to see all in some other events we said good to each other.