31 July 2005

Khudremukh July 23,24.

In the Monsoons of July 23, 17 techies from Novell, Del & HP met up at Malleshwaram 450Km from Bangalore,on a monsoon trek to the peaks of Khudremukh.

The 1st round of breakfast was at 7am in the `adda`, we had to stand as in the below pic. After two rounds of breakfast as early as 9:30am, with rain still pouring clothes all wet I was in no mood of a trek.....

Somehow convinced myself for one last trek to the beautiful Khudremukh. My previous experience to the same place was pretty much of an adventure, with newbies - losing way in the forest, we camped in open air and ended up slashing and burning down a tree to keep our camp fire burning through the night. Hoping for something more more adventurous this time.

The Team:
Jatin(del & my cousin), Harish(flextronics), Sheshadri(del), Harshad(Novel), Silva(Novel), KP(Novel), Ashwin(Novel), I don't remember the rest.. The team headed to get permission from the Forest Department to trek in Khudremukh forests. Costed around Rs.80 a person per day. A guide was also provided for an extra 100.

The split:

Three smart guys headed to the nearest KSRTC booking centre to book return tickets back to Bangalore. The rest headed to the `Samse` the spot where the trek begins.

Destination Lobo's House:
Lobo's house is situated 8 km from `Samse` our destination for day 1. Our first challenge was to cross a suspension bridge. Once we crossed the bridge the rains got severe, thanks to some locals we purchased long plastic bags to prevent water seeping though our bags and partially prevent us from getting drenched.

To begin with the first 6kms was no trek route it was a jeep track. Initially it was just small coffee, pepper plantations and rice farms in patches.

The Splits and Re-union:

There were unexpected splits that occurred all along the jeep track. 6 of the group had slipped into a water fall to further cool themselves off. It didn't end there, the 6 now internally decided to further split into 2 groups of 3 each. I really don't understand why @#$%&? The re-union was to happen at Lobo's house, which did happen at 6 in the evening. One of the 3 that split from the 6 were the 1st to reach and then the others who obviously had problems finding lobo's house followed. Minor fights erupted regarding failure to mark the route to lobo's house.

Lobo must have been a rich guy or at least politically well backed, 3 houses in Reserve Forest Area. I remember seeing Ex-Congress man Rajiv Ghandi's Posters in the main hall. poor sense of window placing made it difficult to see even during the day. It had a hall a dining room with no window, a kitchen and a Firewood store room. The house had a mysterious entry, one needs to hop over a 3'6" tall fence. Well the good thing about Lobo's house was it was water proof, mosquito free had a fire place in the kitchen.

The caretaker of Lobo's house prepared some sambar and served us 1/2 ripe oranges which exceeded our expectations. And side dishes were 'balakas' (salted chilies soaked in curds and sun dried ) & 'pickles'. There were various obstacles we crossed like overflowing rivulets and streams which on each occasion refilled our shoes with all water. We had no option but to `cook our shoes` to make our next day trek a better experience. The idea was a major success which was readily accepted, most of us took turns to cook!


Cards was the only entertainment. all managed to sleep in the main hall and the dining room, I had the idea of sleeping in the kitchen burring the firewood through the night to keep me warm. Well no volunteers stepped forward as I was scared to sleep alone in there as I had seen some scary creatures before sun-set had to adjust in the main hall. My Loud sneezes, the side effects of rain in turn affected the others peace of sleep.

The idea was to wake up at 5am and start trek by 7am which never happened. One main reason behind it was 'nature's call'. The problems were the weather, discovery of 17 unique spots in the rain such that no spot was retraced was quite an adventure itself which happened sequentially. Breakfast was packed food, no complaints.

Trek begins:
The trek actually started at 7:45am, not bad just 45 mins late. We were supposed to be back by 1 pm for lunch and start off by 3pm back to `Samse` comfortably before dark as per the care taker. Effort wasted in cooking shoes went down the drain after we crossed the 1st stream.

After crossing the 1st thick undergrowth we were attached by leeches. Harish saw 10 leeches on me and decided to abort his trek and head back to Lobo's house. Well I thought it was a good decision and should have aborted..... Well I didn't as others were still keen on continuing. My cousin and I decided to move on faster to avoid any more leech attacks.

As we got closer and closer to the peak the weather turned hostile. We were heading straight into a storm with strong winds, falling temperatures, poor visibility and piercing rains. This unfriendly weather scared the hell out of us. We could not walk straight up, we had to crouch down and crawl low to avoid being carried away by strong winds. We took some photographs where ever possible. The others were no where in sight, we decided to trek back down ASAP and caution the group.

The descent:
The direction of wind changed rapidly making the initial part of the descent extremely risky, we kept going with shaky legs. We had to watch our step for algae and moss everywhere around the peak. Anticipating the wind changing direction was a risky affair failing to do so could easily throw us off the peak, we had to counter resist till about 50 meters vertical from the peak.

As soon as that stretch was covered we felt fingers numb, stiff jaws and the desire to reach lobo's house ASAP. On the way back we noticed new streams that never existed an hour ago! The entire pathway was flooded with water, at times concealing knee deep potholes. With frequent slips and falls our legs learnt not to complain and we kept jogging our way through. All the way through we had not eaten, we began feel hungry. But to our surprise we never met up with the team on our way down and not to mention the leeches. Various thoughts crept in, we concluded they got wise and head back to Lobo's house aborting mission. We had maintained a good pace so we hoped to catch up on our way back, it never happened, anyway we raced on.

Back at Lobo's House:
On reaching Lobo's house we realised they were still somewhere out there. The cook had come down and food was ready. We were back by 12 noon. 5km uphill and back in 4 hrs under hostile conditions that was something. After my lunch the remaining team returned. The team had lost their way just 2km away from the peak and had to turn back except for 4 guys. The 4 decided not to give up and went on, initially in the wrong direction and on the way back figured the right way up. This team returned back pretty late.

The cook had scared us about mining activities in the vicinity the 4 headed. He even convinced us they would not return in time, and that we would not reach in time to catch our bus if we didn't leave by 3 pm. He convinced us the 4 would be history. We decided to wait on till 3:30pm. The wait paid off 3:45, they were back in 1 piece.

Back to Samse:

The 4 decided to have lunch relax a bit and then head back to samse. The rest left immediately. I decided to trek with undies and banyan, the idea behind it was to prevent the sticky feeling of wet clothes. The idea was not welcomed by the group, a volunteer handed down a lungi. I was never comfortable with that. Water level in the streams on our way back were high enough to submerge our backpacks partially. Frequent falls finally had its effect on my left leg, I should blame that lungi. I realised I could no more walk downhill. The pain got so severe at times I would howl and stop for a while. Somehow managed and kept going. The trek ended with crossing the suspension bridge, rise in water level had damaged the bridge supports, but we managed to cross it 1 at a time. For dinner we had rottis at some local Jain restaurant in `Samse`. The bus arrived at around 9pm, we headed back to Bangalore to touch down Monday morning.

1.No more monsoon treks [my parents won't let]
2.Dont force your self down hill, I ended up with a Ligament tear
[1 week after trek, I still cannot walk straight down any stairs]
3.Leech bites itch later, don't heal fast so avoid getting bitten.
4.Trust the locals but don't believe in everything they say.
5.Carry a good raincoat & rubber boots while trekking in rains.
6.Don't cook shoes its a waste of effort, instead try cooking inner
wear they'll keep you warm.
7.When you are hungry on a trek your taste buds taste miracles.
8.I hate Mondays!


  • Bangalore to Malleshwara: 10:30 pm Rajahamsa from Kempegowda Bus Stand[Platform 23-24].
    [Try bribing conductor to stop at `Samse` itself]
  • Malleshwara to Samse : Hourly transport facility available
  • Samse to Lobo's House : 8 km trek [at times misleading, take locals help]
  • Lobo's House to Peak : 5 km trek [The best part, clear trail all along]
  • Samse to Bangalore : 9 pm passes by Samse, 8:30 pm Malleshwara
  • Water availability : numberous streams all along the trek.
  • Food : Lobo's house caretaker can help if required.
  • Forest trek permit : Either at Malleshwara or near Lobo's house[Rs.80/head approx. per day]

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