Monday, April 28, 2008

Western Catchment - Bangitapal Trek - Jan 20-21, 2008

After 3 trips in car in the Western Catchment – Bangitapal region, I decided that it is high time that I go on a trek there. Just then, Lady Trek smiled on me. The Tamil Nadu Forest Department came out with an advertisement that they are conducting a trek in that region on Jan 20-21, 2008. My trek gang at office decided that we should also join. As it was only a 2-day trek and the department told that it will be 27 km overall (10 km on day 1 and 17 km on day 2), we thought it will be child’s play, but reality struck us only later.

We booked a van and left Coimbatore on the morning of Jan 20 and reached the forest office in Ooty around afternoon. The forest ranger there turned out to be a nice and informative person to such extent that he overestimated us. As per the actual plan we were supposed to trek 10 km on day 1 and spend the night at a trekking shed midway and 17 km on day 2.

“A landslide happened near the trekking shed a few days back, hence bringing provisions will be problem,” he said.

“Can you people do the whole trek at a single stretch?” “Why not,” we heard ourselves telling – Lady Trek was smiling big now.

“You will have to do a bit of night trekking in moonlight.” “We are ready,” we heard ourselves shouting – Lady Trek was grinning wide now.

“The trek might go late into night.” “Come on, let’s get on with the trek. We are veterans boss, don’t insult us,” we heard ourselves yelling – Lady Trek was chuckling loud now.

The thought of moonlight trekking and the fear that he would cancel the trek if we told “no” made us readily agree. What he didn’t tell was the trek will start at 3 p.m. and will end at 1:30 a.m. the next day and in the process expose us to cold, very cold, and very very cold weather. Walking over 150-feet high dams on a 2-feet wide wall with nothing to hold on was surely not on our minds when we started.

Itinerary: Western Catchment gate = Western Catchment 3 = Western Catchment 2 = Western Catchment 1 (night stay) = Bangitapal = Upper Bhavani = Ooty.

The first shock came when we were asked to cross 150-feet high dam on a wall only 2-feet wide. The second shock followed 45 minutes later when we were asked to cross a second dam with the same specifications. By that time dusk had fallen. Moonlight trekking was fun for the first 1 hour, after that the chill started, but I should say that though the dam crossing and moonlight trekking came as a surprise, we thoroughly enjoyed both. It was an exciting and different experience altogether.

We were supposed to stay at the trekking shed at Western Catchment 1, but due to the landslide, we had to change to the trekking shed at Bangitapal, where hot chapattis and rice welcomed us at 1:30 a.m. Built in 1930, this trekking shed was like heaven to us after our 27-km walk.

The next day we went to the Earthern Dam and Upper Bhavani Dam and returned by afternoon to Ooty. All in all it was a great trek with lot of surprises, which we enjoyed thoroughly.

Expenses: Trekking charge - Rs.50/= per person including food. Rs.25/= extra for camera.

Western Catchment - Bangitapal Trek - Jan 20-21, 2008