The Monsoon was already set and the Western Ghats were sopping in showers. One such rainy day I got a message from my friend informing about a weekend trek to Charmadi. I was in doubt whether to go or not as I was a tyro in trekking but finally decided to join. Everything from what to wear to what to carry was a mystery to me. I tried to contact few people who had done Monsoon hikes before and asked for suggestions. After weeks of shopping, everything was arranged and I was all ready for the trip.
On a Friday night our group started the journey towards Western Ghats. We played antyakshari for hours without letting others to sleep. When our mini bus stopped at Kottigehara around 3:30 am, we all leapt off from the vehicle to fill our stomachs. There was a small shed, where a guy was preparing Dosa. We stuffed ourselves under the roof and had enough Dosa along with coffee. It was mouth-watering. Even now I can’t forget how tasty the food was. The pitter-patter of raindrops made the moment more mystical. Our journey then continued and just during the day break we reached the village Charmadi from where our trek would begin.
We got freshen up, had our breakfast and soon started our hike to the Erikallu peak. First 15 minutes of the hike was very difficult because of the leeches. Hundreds of these small blood sucking critters were eagerly trying to get their share from our body. I was horrified at the sight and started walking as fast as I could. Still a handful of leeches were creeping on my shoes and legs. If I stopped to remove them, then I would be attracting more towards me. Few had leech bites on their neck, head etc. Expecting this situation we were well prepared and brought some de-leeching agents such as Neem oil, tobacco powder and it really helped us. But few of the trekkers who have been doing hikes for quite some time did not care much for the leech bites.
After a while, the thick forest area subsided and then the grassland had its dominance over the trees. The grasses were reaching our waists and literally we could see nothing and blindly followed our guides. But luckily there were no leeches in the grass. With stunning landscapes all around, green covered mountains and foaming waterfalls the whole area looked surreal. At some point I was so tired and couldn’t move but just the glimpse of the peak helped me to summon my energy and put my steps forward. But that was not the real summit and I could see another peak ahead of me. I dragged my feet towards what I assumed as summit. Even at the second time it deceived me. Finally, third time I reached the top where many of my friends were already took a pew. The whole view was breathtakingly amazing with the tiny looking Charmadi village lying beneath the hill. Gorgeous green carpeted mountain range in the surrounding, was about to touch the clouds.
After staying there for some time, we started our descent to the village. Soon it began to drizzle and became slippery all over the place. We drenched in rain, were trying to pass through the misty landscapes without falling. At last when the terrible leech site came, I thought of running just to escape from them. But then I fell down and my left knee got injured. Somehow I managed to escape any leech bites and reached the village safely. After a long tiresome day hike, we had a nice shower and hot coffee with some snacks.
This trip was an incredible experience and thanks to Harsha for taking us to such a heavenly place.