Trekking at Shiradi Ghats: Aramane Gudde.
This is a write up about my recent trek to the Shiradi Ghats. Varun’s version of the story can be found here. There are many peaks here. We decided to scale the Aramane Gudde (also called Aramane Gadde, referring to farmlands which used to exist earlier). This trip was a last-minute decision, for which we had less than a week to plan. Earlier plan was to do a road trip along Karnataka coast, spanning for more than 2 weeks. We had done quite a bit of research on this, but ended up in disappointment since most of the guys couldn’t get leave approval for so many days :-/
Varun, Uttaran and Ayushman (Uttaran’s bro) started towards Gundya near Shiradi on Dec 25th morning. Sharath and myself would meet them at Gundya forest checkpost the next day. The 3 of them visited Belur and Halebidu temples enroute and reached the forest Inspection Bungalow at Gundya. After a bumpy overnight ride in the bus, Sharath and myself joined them early next morning. Soon the guide also joined us and we were ready to start the trek. We were disappointed since the highly anticipated neerdose was not available for breakfast.
We had to ride in an auto for 8kms to get to the starting point of our climb. We got off the road and were immediately met with dense forest. Thankfully there was no rain in the past few days and hence no leeches to trouble us. Some of us were carrying heavy baggages and found the steep ascent pretty exhausting. After a tough half hour climb, we emerged out of the forest into a grassland. Although this was not very steep, the going was still tough as the sun beat down upon us relentlessly. We had alternate patches of grassland and forest every half an hour.
By midday, we had exhausted all our water resources and turned to oranges which we had brought in generous supply. We soon reached a patch of clearing where we were to have lunch. We gobbled up all the mtr ready-to-eat stuff which we had brought. The guide disappeared for a while with all our bottles and then miraculously appeared with fresh river water. We resumed our climb and within an hour reached the spot where we would be spending our night. It was on top of a grassy hill with a small patch of trees. We were thankful for the shade and settled down among the trees. There was also a peaceful stream of water flowing nearby. All in all, we felt in perfect harmony with nature and slowly we nodded off to sleep.
Evening. The guide promised us a good view of sunset and we set off to the spot which was a little distance away. While we waited for the sunset, we had a royal chit-chat, on topics ranging from geeky tech stuff to music, movies and what not! We could even spot the Sakleshpur – Subrahmanya railway line at a distance, and the scenery was picture perfect. The sun suddenly decided he’d had enough of our jabber and hid behind a cloud, refusing to come out. We were disappointed to have missed what would have been a really good sunset. We returned to our campsite and settled down. The guide prepared hot tomato soup and upma :) and we had a really heavy dinner.
Now for the fun part. Prior to starting from Bangalore, the guide had confidently told us that it hadn’t rained at Shiradi for months and we would be perfectly fine without a tent. So we had come all this way with absolutely nothing to shelter us in case of rain. The guide prepared a bed for all of us by cutting some wild plants growing on the hill, and we made ourselves comfortable on our makeshift bed out in the open, since there would be all kinds of insects and frogs within the patch of trees. We lay down around the fire which he prepared for us. Suddenly we were completely enveloped in a thick blanket of mist and we could hardly see a couple of feet ahead. The guide got up with a torch and said he heard/saw a wild animal in the misty distance. We were slightly freaked out at first, but after a frantic search for ten minutes, didn’t spot any animal. At this point there were a few drops of rain in the air, but we just stayed put, ignoring it. But soon we were running for the tree cover, as it started to pour madly. After drenching completely for half an hour, we got a slight respite from the rain, and we headed back into the open space to revive the fire and get some warmth into our body. But soon enough, we were hit by another wave of heavy rain. This continued all night and the guide had to bring all his experience into play to keep the fire going. We practically spent the whole night shivering around the fire with rain beating down on us mercilessly. We had never felt so helplessly shelterless before! So we decided to just ignore our condition and continue our evening chat on music. We discussed all kinds of bands starting from the 50s, with varun giving us all rock n roll history lesson :D
Finally, at 6 we decided to pack our stuff and start the descent. We actually had a further 2 hour climb to reach the top of Aramane Gudde, but decided against that after our night’s ordeal. It was still raining as we started our descent in treacherous conditions. The visibility was almost zero due to the thick blanket of mist all around us and we just had 2 torches. We made our way down very slowly, careful not to step on any loose stones, as one slip would lead to a fatal fall into the deep ravine on one side. We were totally oblivious of our wet clothes and wet baggage. After 3 hours of walking downhill, we reached the point on the highway where the trail started. We flagged down an oil tanker and had a nice ride back to the Gundya checkpost in it. We had a pleasant drive to Bangalore, partly in rain. All in all, it was quite an adventure i would say.