Monday, July 12, 2010

Dudhsagar Trek in Monsoons

First of all, my apologies to regular followers of this blog that I didn’t update it in last 3-4 months. Finally realised who I am and here goes my first updation in months.
As I flipped through the pages of “ Its not about the bike..My journey back to life-The Autobiography of Lance Armstrong”, I got the feeling that may be I have over exaggerated my sufferings a lot in recent past. Yes, I have been down and out in last couple of months; have been a weak & in-secured guy; bamboozled about my future; uncertain about my career and personal life and to make the matter worse, people came in and directly & indirectly told me that I am not worth and what not. But wait...I have not suffered Cancer, not undergone Chemo for weeks , my skull has not been opened by the neurologists and my testicles have not been removed by oncologists.All these had happened with Lance but Armstrong came back to his life with record breaking seven consecutive Tour De France titles. Why can’t I just enjoy the present when I have nothing to loose. I had changed myself a lot in past couple of months and found that people gathered courage to poke in a finger and say that I am wrong, when I knew that I was not. And when I did hit the rock bottom, I realised I am only responsible for my sufferings and no one else. People would always be there to harm you and hit you in the hardest possible way. Have almost by hearted the following piece of gem from Rocky Balboa where Stallone utters these gems of wisdom to his demoralised and in-secured son---“Son…Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done. Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that..”. While Rocky’s was a fiction, Armstrong’s is a true story of a fighter. Nevertheless both are stories of getting hit and moving on and I feel I have moved on by doing things that I am best at. Me, Siddhu and Manya( rechristened Mansingh) had planned to go trekking to Dudhsagar Falls on Goa-Karnataka Border. Subbu and Ashish were supposed to travel from Bangalore and join us at Kolhapur. Unfortunately Subbu could not make it because of some other commitments. Me and Manya took the Sahyadri Express to Kolhapur. Ashis joined us at Kolhapur and we started towards Belgaum in Siddhu’s car by 9:30 instead of planned 7’o clock departure.
The Gang

Plan was to go to Castle Rock Railway Station at a distance of 2 hours from Belgaum and park the car over there. Then walk along the Railway Track( that goes to Vasco) to Dudhsagar Falls situated at a distance of 14 kms from Castle Rock. We were prepared to camp over there near the fifth tallest waterfall of India. After driving for an hour on the road to Goa, we took the left turn to Castle Rock. Another 15 minutes and we reached Castle Rock. It was already 12:15. Let me tell, there are very few things in world that impress you at first go. Castle Rock is one of those small Railway towns, which gives you a picture of a old laid back Portuguese railroad hamlet of 18th century where steam engine drivers , station masters and points man would stay with families and their kids would play football in small grounds. Castle rock has a small station, few railway quarters , some offices and trekking training center for railway employees. It has its own importance as here the Braganza Ghats descends on the Belgaum-Vasco route. Engines used for overhauling the Wagons from rear side while climbing the ghat from Goa side would be detached here and will be attached with trains going downhill.

Castle Rock Railway Station....Time has stopped ticking

Briganza Ghat Section

Indian Railways...A Colourful Story

We started walking towards Dudhsagar. By the time we crossed the first tunnel, rain had started pouring. Western Ghats are at their best in monsoons. It brought in some respite from the soaring humidity in the area. We paced in at some 4kms per hour which itself is slow. But all of us could not help out taking snaps at almost every 10 meters. Western Ghats has been recently declared by as one of the richest Bio diversity hotspots of the world. A walk of some feet and one or the other waterfall would come in your way along the track.

Scenes like this are common

Trekking along the track has its own difficulties. You have to take thousands of baby steps on the sleepers and to add to your agony the free fallen golden treasures here and there from passengers in the passing by trains. We crossed on tunnel one after the other and crossed into Goa Border. Torches that me and Manya had taken were worth comparable with the flickering candle lights and the great rascal Siddhu would not miss a single chance of making mockery of us. It was fun chit chatting and shitting the worthless talks around while we were crossing the tunnels.
Marching Ahead

Inside one of the Tunnels

One of the abandoned stations

Castle Style Tunnel

Karnataka Goa Border

We crossed Picturesque Caranzole Station

By the time we were about to reach Caranzole, another small station enroute, time was 3:00pm. We asked some of the other trekkers who were coming from the other end about the distance left. It was little scary to know that still 2 hours of walk was left. Though we had come prepared to stay overnight there at the falls, one of the major worries that was bothering inside was food. What I could assess was that there won’t be anything available over there. I asked one of the railway gangmen about distance left as I wanted to reconfirm. To my surprise and liking, he told that a goods train is coming from Castle rock and will be stopping at the Dudhsagar Station also. We can try our luck. A split second decision was to be made. We went in for the advise given by the Gangman. The Great Indian Railways came in to our rescue. The Goods Train driver stopped and was more than humble enough to give us a ride of our life time. Rain god was more than generous in pouring blessings from top. Drenched in incessant rains, we were moving towards the falls. Let me tell you when you are standing on the engine foot plate, the sight of the viaducts and the streams below look ferocious. Piercing through the evergreen and semi evergreen deciduous forests and tunnels, the 3500 hp monsters ( three to four engines are used to overhaul the 100 wagons) made us reach Dudhsagar Falls by 3:30.

Journey of Life time....

We had complete one and half hour before the scheduled arrival of Goa Express which stops at Dudhsagar. Plan was to catch the train back to Castle Rock. 15 minutes walk will land you up near the falls. Its such a magnanimous falls and with monsoons at peak, the falls were showing their full strength. What a sight , falls on one side and railways track and the cliff on the other. One could see the valley down under. Some plantations done by localites. Scene was as if we were in rain forests of Borneo full of Banana Vegetation and smoke coming from the Dayak Tribe’s huts. Took as many pics as possible in that half an hour.

Near the Dudhsagar Station

The Majestic Dudhsagar Falls

Mist and Clouds everywhere...

Near The Falls

Saying Good Bye

Thanked God for creating western ghats and the falls. Thanked our fate. I was completely sinked in the glory of falls with my arms spread out and was thinking about last couple of months. It was the end...end of all the agony. We took the Goa Express back to Castle Rock. A Lance Armstrong spirit had erupted inside me by this time. Life is too short to be cribbed upon. I had come out of the dark Tunnel and with flying colours. All the darkness had vanished and light, light of hope and joy had come back to my life. Not to be messed again....

End of Darkness