This was my first trek with CTC and I had a nice time of it...The first day we were one of the last one's to reach level one...
but i was happy for it as it only meant I had spent more time at my own pace rather than having a race against time ... I had always believed trekking is way where one can be close with nature and enjoy all the wonders it has to offer...
So I took my own time and indulged in some photography on sunday on the little ones we barely wait to notice...
if all the trekkers can bring their own food in reusable boxes this will not only reduce the load on the organisers it will also reduce the massive amount of plastic covers (noodles, chips, cream buns, etc.. at 6 covers per person the total no of covers is nearly 1000!!!) we have used up for the trek.
this will also give the new trekkers the real sense of the trek and the fore preparation needed for it.... I hope the everyone is listening
This letter is only meant as constructive criticism and hope it is taken in the spirit in which it is written. Being a first timer with Chennai Trekking Club, I had set out with the happy thought that here was a group I could join at least once a month and have a good trek, but I found a lot of glitches - big and small. Let me list out a few in the hope that they can be ironed out in future treks.
1) The pick up time at Annanagar west was 5 am – the founder being Belgian I was hoping things would be on time - but we were picked up at 6.15.
2) At the start itself a volunteer there took a disclaimer from each trekker that CTC was not responsible if anything happened to them – this is fine from the point of law, but don’t you have a moral obligation to the trekkers?? There was no accounting for trekkers – I don’t think you were aware how many made it up and how many fell by the wayside.
3) Again everyone on that trek were adults who were asking how much longer – for 3-4 hours every volunteer overtaking us including Peter told us 2 km. or 15 mins more and we trekked and trekked a good 3 hours after that. This really irritated people and they had no idea how much future they had to go. (Are you aware that many stopped on the way without reaching the 1st camp??) – I was afraid to continue on to camp 2, as I had begun to distrust your word regarding distance and difficulty.
a) a simple truth of 5 km more.. 6 km more … take it at your pace – would have been a great help and encouragement to first timers
b) It was a big group and this should have been split into smaller groups of not more than 10 people (with each trekking group wearing a different colour ribbons to identify each group) and even a newcomers could have been put in charge and one volunteer could have been put in charge of 3 groups. This way people would have had more confidence in what was happening and there would have been some amount of accountability.
4) Again we were told this was going to be a jeep track. – I can bet anything that the track we walked on - no jeep could travel. –definitely no cuttie paapaa could have managed that trail
A) People should have been told that it was a 15 km track on a medium incline and that it was rough going once in a way.
5) Again we were told that there would be red ribbons on the trail – sorry you had yellow and lime green ribbons which were very difficult to detect especially considering the fact that they blended with the leaves and that the route was filled with boulders making it difficult to take your eyes off the path and they were so far apart that you were well and truly lost before you spotted a ribbon
A) If red ribbons had been used liberally and instead of tying to the leaves and branches had been stuck with a drop of araldite to boulders on the side everyone would have found the going that much easier. Or nailed to a tree bark.
6) On our way down we DID lose the trail and ended up using the trail that the pilgrims use to come up to the Sivan Koil – the flip side of this is that the trail was much shorter – just 6 km and very much more beautiful and left us wondering about a couple of things.
a) were the organizers aware of this route – if yes, why did they not take that route when so many first timers were trekking.
b) If this had happened on the way up and these people were left lost with night creeping on them - it could have left them very traumatized.
7) Last but not least - the food was terrible –
a) people could have been asked to bring their own
This has been written with the hope that steps will be taken to improve the treks so that people will go away wanting - to go for the next and the next…
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And I was one of the 17 who took a different trail and we all reached safe to the main road. Entered mumbai dhaba only to find Bala and Thilak hogging. Another set of people joined and we all left to chennai at around 7 and reached home safe by around 10 30.
We’ve read that man was a forest dweller; then invented the wheel; then he went on to set up civilizations and finally found the most comfortable ways to stay when he invented mega-cities with ultra-modern amenities, but in the process exploited the mother nature so ruthlessly. I decided to give myself a refreshing break and to be with Mother Nature over the weekend. I was planning to go for trek with CTC following a lot of recommendations and this was my moment of truth- “Nagari Combo 23rd and 24th October”.
Preparation for the trek for me started with the search for a cap, thermorexine sheet, dichotomy between Eveready 300/- LED torch and 75/- China made one- swadesi or videshi??, a lot of posturing in front of office colleagues and a lot of excitement and a little bit of anxiety.
We met up at guindy at 0400hrs on 23rd and the process of making friends had already started. We proceeded to Koyembedu where everyone assembled to finally proceed to the spot. I saw Mr. Peter who is an enlightening sole. At 0900 hrs, we reached to a place where buses were parked and we walked to a place where breakfast was served to us. Thanks to the volunteers!
We started the trek at around 0930 Hrs when the sun was out with all its might. We were walking under the killing heat, brain was numb; lack of sleep; body egging for shade, mind for rest. Going up and down the hill; not sure about how much water to carry and each milliliter was like a tonne. Never the sound of silence was so clear when the bushes were rubbing against my hands and legs. We kept walking traversing all kinds of terrains- rocky, sandy, grassy. At this time I was feeling that someone has cheated me by saying that till level 1 its just a moderate walk :). I was tying my bandana in all kinds of orientations to save myself from each and every ray of sunlight. OMG!! will I ever reach level 1 was the biggest question at this point in time. Hey…come on!! this was the first trek in a long while for my “not so disciplined” body. Sunlight was harsh and major part of the trek was not covered by trees. I gave up the idea to go to the next level, not because I simply could not but I could not afford to fall ill. Nevertheless it was a different experience. I was realizing the why Mr. Bear Grylls eats all kings of insects, vertebrates, invertebrates, fresh/ stale flesh and eggs along with calcium cover etc.
Hurray!! Finally I reached level 1. The place was fabulous. A small waterfall with a clean and beautiful pool below. We jumped into the water from adjoining rocks serving as a natural diving- board. The place had two temples on either sides of the stream. It was covered with trees with lots of monkeys having their eyes on our food stuff. We swam, screamed, clicked, and soaked ourselves in the cold refreshing water. Ingenuity was at its max when people were setting up camp-fire to cook noodles and soup. We got a very decent place to sleep in one of the temples. Spending a night in the jungle was awesome experience.
Next day morning we started back at 1100 Hrs. thankfully it was cloudy and the suddenly the route became “so easy”. Alas if it would have happened on the first day then I could have gone to level 5!! Haha. After returning to the base camp we rested and waited for others to come. The mountains looked threatening as the Sun was setting down and it was quite hard to believe that we were actually there!!
It was an exhilarating experience. The question coming to my mind again and again was: How close can man stay to the nature? Or is it fine to exploit it to the extent that we’ve done. So much of consumerism, so much of materialism… Definitely, it is not easy for a man to stay in a jungle forever, so whatever man did was it right? I hope the answer lies somewhere in between which I will try to discover. Thanks CTC.
First up - Awesome Trek !!
One of my best experiences till date. I've never sweat out so much, not even inside the squash arena :)
A big thanks to all the organizers - Peter, Alex, etc.. (too many to name) - who managed to arrange food, shelter, etc for all the 200 people!
Special thanks to - people who had the mind to bring pickle and iced tea powder, trail ribbons, photographers with SLRs, the kid and the old (actually, still young) man for the inspiration, Ajay and Ramzan for the leading and sweeping beyond level 3, Peter for sweeping and motivating people all the way, people who carried Trauplins and vessels all the way up, Sunil & Ganesh for pushing me throughout to complete the trek, etc.. etc..
Although while coming down, we ended up 20 kms off the base camp on some other path, the sense of being in the group and their company made us overlook the wrong trail we took. Through the hot sun, the off trails and the stinging bees, I guess it's the lovely people around us who make it all work :)
Its Good to see your comments, but i am seeing very few are valid. This is a trekking event and really not a family outing or outing with colleagues. Lets see one by one.
1. In 190 of strength 187 are Indians how you are expecting 1 guy(Peter) change all of them. Everyone should have their own interest to keep up the timing. Koyembedu pick time is 4.40 and I reached Koyembedu by 4.20 and I was seeing peter and some other were there already. So we people has to make our mind.
2. Really nobody is responsible if something happens to us, because this trekking and they are not doing this as a business. But we friends have bonding to help each other. I am not sure whether you are aware or not, one of our friend got injured in his leg and he was sent in a jeep or some vehicle. We are joining in our own interest and we have to manage the Medical expense of the accident, that's what major point here.
3. We have clearly mentioned the first level is 10 KM we cannot expect milestones in forest.
4. Again its a trekking, going in a jeep track will make it as walking.
5. Ribbons, yes changing colors would be good.
6. We are pilgrims and this group is not formed to arrange any pilgrimages.
7. It may look like a good idea but this will make people to carry a lots of stuff without knowing the purpose and it may make the trek to feel like family outing. It may be good while forming a small group of 10 or 20 members.
One of my Personal opinion here not for Shanthi, to whoever feel that they are very old and expect sophisticate travel. Please avoid Trekking events arranged by anybody not specific to CTC, since trekking is a event to enjoy the nature by our own.
In CTC instructions it clearly mentioned to carry soap or shampoo but I saw some of them using soaps and Shampoos. So its our responsibility to manage ourselves. I was born and brought up here its our responsibility to keep our place clean.