It was about 4 years back, that monsoon had just started and there was something new which I wanted to try. I saw this ad in which some trek details were mentioned in one of the social media portals, it was a range trek. Range trek means we start from one point and end at another point, it was not like a one day trek but full 3 days trek.
It created a sense of excitement, my friend and me both of us were amazed as it had 2 nights stay at local villages, and it covered 4 mountains. This was only for experienced trekkers and not for first timers, but with the excitement level on its peak; I did not want to miss this opportunity and just wanted to go. On that particular day we decided to ask our common friends, days went by but none of them agreed for the trek which later turned into a big NO.
But I was determined and asked another group of friends, to my luck 3 of them finally agreed and the plan was on. We decided to go with the trek group known as "Trek mates India", we called them for the enquiries and details for the trek, the individual to whom I had spoken was bit sceptical about the fact that we were first-timers or inexperienced in trekking, so he questioned me the same, but I said that we are not first timers and have done few treks just to make sure that he does not say that we guys won't be allowed for the trek. I acted as a wannabe so that things will be smooth and booked four slots, damn we were ready for it.
The trekking group had asked us to be available early morning at Lonavala railway station around 6 a.m., so accordingly, we took the train from Mumbai Central a night before, which would drop us around 1 a.m. at Lonavala. Just to make things exciting the name of the train was "Chennai Express" and we obviously thought that as per the movie with the same title as that of the train, even we might land up to some other destination just the way Shahrukh had in the movie, but that did not happen.
We reached Lonavala station and were looking out for something to do as we had still 5 hours left, we went to eat Maggi noodles at the local food stall which was about 20 minutes away from the station and came back. We needed to rest as the coming days would be quite hectic but where exactly, this was the question. On the station's platform, we saw this luggage trolley, well quite a big one, two of them were placed next to each other. And there we had our resting place, never thought I would attempt something like this but was good fun. We were there till 5.45 a.m. and then headed to the assembly place decided by the trek group.
Like us, there were others as well all geared up; we had our breakfast and then headed to the first trek at Tung fort. A minibus was taken and off we went to Tung fort, at the base we made a hurdle and introduced ourselves. While introducing, people mentioned themselves and their trekking experiences, it started off well but then it was our turn. We obviously knew what to say about ourselves but not about the trekking experience, all of us said this trek would be our first one. There was a silence of about 3 seconds or so every time we four said this, we were looked as if we have entered the wrong group just like that song "Jaana tha Japan pahuch gaye Chin". To be honest they were right but we ignored as if the song "Lakshya ko har haal mein paana hai".
We reached the base and started the trek, all 4 of us were so excited that we kept on trekking with full strength but in no time were exhausted, keeping our pace with others we learned that trekking is not about reaching the summit at the earliest but it's about going ahead with a moderate level of pace and maintaining our energy level intact. Overall, it was great fun as it was raining due to the mid-monsoon season while descending we had lunch at the local village.
It was quite amazing that we had typical Maharashtrian food for the first time, after this we had to again trek to the nearby village before sunset. The next trek was Tel Baila which is at a very remote place; there was this one small house where we had to live for that night. Before we had dinner we were discovering nearby surroundings, it is one of the best feelings where you have left everything aside and were just enjoying the present with nature.
Our dinner was early not the usual time that we have in metro cities, again as followed by the locals, simple food, simple appetite and simple life, it was great. Since the house was small we had to adjust ourselves for the night stay, it was like a big joint family staying together. We had a great opportunity to know each other, their lives and passion for trekking and nature. Besides, we four also were involved in other groups and were quite amazed wherein people with their busy corporate life somehow manages to dedicate their time to their passion and nature.
But this fun was short-lived as one of my friend had decided to discontinue the trek, we were shocked to hear this but he was not comfortable with the physical stress and hence had taken the decision. We did support him but the only issue was that we were at a remote place and getting to the nearby commute place was a challenge. Somehow my friend managed and the next day early morning he left.
Now we were 3 of us heading to the next trek along with others, our mind was filled with doubts and a sceptical feeling of whether we might complete the trek or no, as we had heard other treks were a bit more difficult and there is no U-turn, but we were determined and others also kept us motivated. The next trek was "Tel Beila".
This particular trek was a bit steep; the trek leaders were positioned as so as to lead the pack in such a manner where first trek leader was at the start, second in the middle and the third one at the back. We started the ascending at a steady pace and then came the toughest part; a very narrow and steep patch wherein only one person at a time can ascend. To add further difficulty, there was fog around, so all you can see is the small patch and nothing else. There was a valley to both the sides deep down which made it all the more difficult.
As they say, ascend is easy but descend is difficult, our case was the same, we took baby steps and descended, other trek mates helped us along and we were finally at the base camp. This was the moment when even we felt that yes only experienced trekkers should have done this and not us. But already a day was over and we thought, naah we aren’t less, we will complete the whole range trek no matter what.
Later on, we were off to Sarasghad, about a few hours of hard-core trekking, we reached the base. It was raining heavily so a stoppage was taken at the base itself, we were running out of time and started to ascend. Even this one was one of kind, huge staircases with slimy green algae all over it which indeed slowed down our pace, one side these staircases were attached to the mountain and another side it was left all open, there was no support and off you go down if you lose your balance.
At the top there were few temples and some ruins of the past, we quickly had a look and were eager to descend as still it was raining heavily. Descending on the green surface and that too with heavy rainfall, it was very difficult; instead of stepping down the stairs we actually sat on each staircase to avoid an accident and slowly descended.
After this thrilling episode, we were off to the nearby village had lunch and rested for some time. Now it was the last chapter of the trek Sudhaghad where we had to trek till night and the stay was at the fort itself, it sounded very interesting, but our body had given up, we needed more rest, so two of my friends and I decided to rest at the village. The trek leader himself stayed with us along with two trek mates and had asked others to start the journey and return next day by noon.
The legends had left and we had this great evening to enjoy in the village, trek leader was with us and told us lots of stories as to how he pushed people to complete treks, all of them were so hilarious and motivating too. The evening was about to complete it was around 7.30 and had nothing to do, luckily there was a room with a TV attached, we were literally privileged as the house owner had two TVs and one was assigned to us.
Back then, a sports phenomenon had just kicked off, it was PKL that is Pro Kabaddi league, all of us were so interested as in our own Indian game was gathering so much attention and TRP, it was amazing. We saw two matches back to back and discussed each and every moves and players as if we were the experts. But to be honest only half of the rules we knew that time, but this thing only we knew it ourselves. It was late at night, dinner was done and still we could not get over with the trek leader's stories, finally, he gave up and stopped speaking.
Stories were then followed up by old Bollywood songs which were played on the mobile phones, we all had great night sleep as we were very tired, next morning around 11 a.m. or so, other trek mates had arrived and were discussing how amazing the fort was. I, on other note, was a bit upset that I did not go with them as all of us wanted to complete the whole range trek, but was satisfied that even being a part of range trek was more than enough for us. We left the village and were off to Panvel railway station. Everyone departed and our Range Trek" was finally over.
While leaving all of us shared our contact details and asked to each other to join for future treks, now again we were sceptical for one more trek but all of them had one thing to say to us that in spite of our debut trek, we gave all that we had and completed almost all the treks, we were also been greeted for the same. It was a great motivational boost for us.
This is my first trek, with this amazing experience of one-time activity filled with doubts, fears, low self-confidence, it had actually been converted into a passion which I still follow and will till the end. This is how acting as a wannabe helped me to find my passion.
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Until then happy trekking…!!!