So it was around 7:00pm on 31st evening that we all gathered around the fire warming ourselves and trying not to drool at the barbequeing vegetables. It had gotten dark and stars were appearing and disappearing. It was cold when we saw the stars and was relatively warmer when we had cloud cover. Its obvious since the dew can’t get down if there is cloud cover. We started laughing and making jokes and generally whiling time away (since we had so much free at hand). My BBQ masala turned out to be good and we all enjoyed many rounds of smoked and sometimes burnt vegetables with some drink (remember it was new year’s eve).
After sometime (that is after some of us were more drunk than others) is when we saw a guy transform into fire king. He jumped attempting to cross the fire, which failed and he jumped right into it. It was damn funny. We laughed out loud and sang and danced mostly to Kolaveri as we didn’t have much dance numbers on our mobiles phones.
We started countdown twice (according to two different watches) and wished each other twice and welcomed the New Year by eating instant noodles at 1 am. By which time all of us were pretty exhausted and our talks were reduced from loud yells to decent murmurs. We also had delicious Knorr soup prepared by S. We didn’t mind all the ash that was falling into the container as we had kept it beside the fire on some burning coal. Next time we’ll make a stone stove or something.
We finally went to sleep around 2 am I guess (after dousing the fire ofcourse). I hardly slept even though I was pretty exhausted. It was my first time in a tent and the blowing wind and shaking plants made me think of animals. Needless to say I had a very disturbed sleep and woke up early but didn’t wanted to go out as it was still very cold.
The fire was already going by the time I was up. I finished my morning rituals and gathered near the fire for breakfast – remaining chapati with pickle and jam. It’s strange how people who don’t eat leftovers at home eat chapatis from previous day with such gusto in the hills 🙂 After packing the tents and dousing the fire, we started on our way to Kemmangundi. It was pretty sunny and we got exhausted soon. Stops became more frequent where we had water and fruits. I kept exchanging my heavy backpack with a friend’s lighter one. Need practice to carry weight.
We spent some time at the ruins of British bungalow on the way from where it was downhill walk. We entered the national forest range where we saw new saplings planted by the forest dept. Meaning, we were close to our destination. The last few meters were very slippery and I almost sat and slid down. We walked back to where the TT was waiting for us. It was such a joy and sense of accomplishment to look back at the mighty mountains that we had just treaded. Throughout our journey back to Chikmaglur, I kept looking from the window at the majestic range and thinking of coming back again.
We had sumptuous dosa/shavige/etc at Hotel Mayura in CKM and reached home by 11pm.
The trek will be in my mind for a long time. Probably until I do the next one.