Kudremukh / Kudremukha is one of the first names I had heard, ever since I started showing any interest in trekking. Then why didnt I do this trek all this time?
After this, as soon as he could, Rajeev made another call and we got the permission. Adarsh too shows interest, provided we are not a big mallu gang with him being the only alien! I assured him that the big mallu gang consists of only two of us :-) KSRTC is full, but tickets obtained last minute from Sugama Tourist and we are on board on a Kalasa - Kudremukh bound bus, the next available friday evening!
Saturday early morning we were in Kalasa and a pickup bus provided by Sugama people was ready there. We reached Kudremukh town by about 7.30 and went straight into the RFO. Met our guide (Ramesh) and the RFO there and got the permission without much hassles. There was another gang of about 10 people just behind us who were also planning to head to the Kudremukh peak. Our guide's house is in Mullodi village, en route Kudremukh and he agreed to accomodate us for one night. The plan was to take a jeep till Mullodi and start the trek as soon as possible and return in the evening and stay in Mullodi, so that we can walk back to main road next day.
Now ... we'll take a small digression to fill in the essential details required for any trek log:
Kudremukh stands tall @ 1892m, surpassed in Karnataka only by Mullayanagiri (1930m) and some other sub-peaks in the Baba Budan range. It lies in the Kudremukh sanctuary, stretching into the districts of Udupi, Uttara Kannada and Chikkamagaluru (Chikmagalur). Kudremukh is the tallest peak in this sanctuary and one face of the peak resembles a horse, hence the name Kudremukh (Kudre = Horse, Mukh = Face). The trek route to Kudremukh is from the Kalasa - Samse - Kudremukh road via a beautiful village called Mullodi. Kalasa is a li'l above 300kms from Bengaluru, via Neelamangala, Hassan and Mudigere.
Jeep track to Mullodi goes to the left just after the Samse check post (when coming from Kudremukh side), where there is a huge board saying 'trek to Kudremukh starts here'. This point is about 6kms from Kudremukh, couple of kms before Samse town and about 12kms to Kalsa town. After covering a pretty long distance in a mud track, we finally reached Mullodi by abt 10, dumped the non-essentials @ the house and started the trek in another half an hour.
- I waited for almost two years for any of the organizers (the wild, nature admire ... etc) to organize a trek to Kudremukh.
- Later, when I tried to organize one myself, there were problems with contact information of forest officials, naxal presence in the forest, no permission given during monsoon ... and so on.
- Around March this year, Rajeev had a chat with the official @ Kudremukh RFO and was told that they are not giving permission to the peak but only to other places in the sanctuary, which did not sound exciting enough :-(
- Then there was an organized trek from Care Adventures. But, in spite of calling them up early enough (abt 2 weeks in advance), they dumped me later, saying there is 'no vacancy'. I still havent digested the fact that there are more than a dozen other people in Bengaluru (Bangalore) who were more desperate than me and called them up before I did :(
- Same weekend I decided to drive down there and enquire about permissions myself. Alas ... permission is available till the rain starts!
- Next week the rain started! No permission if it rains :-(
- Anil obtains the permission and does the trek in October ... but I could not join that weekend :-(
- Jagadish does the trek and sends me another trek log, with all required numbers, itinerary and misc information!
Scene from Mullodi Village
Initial part of the trek was cool ... li'l uphill and then a li'l downhill ... a walk along the ridges with a view of valley on one side ... and then a few streams ... all infested with blood-thirsty deadly leeches! We had taken a salt packet and sprinkled salt all around our shoes and inside the socks. Surprisingly, this seemed effective enough. I found my perfect combination against leeches during this trek. A good pair of socks, light shoes and a shorts. The only place I needed to check was the top of the socks! Even if one or two (sometimes lets say a dozen) leeches stick to ur shoes, sprinkling some salt shoed them away. Not Bad!
But, I didnt seem to have a good combination against the slippery path. Found it way too slippery than usual that I slipped too many times. To compound to my woes, my shoe was torn really bad and hardly had any sole. Somehow, I had used the same pair of shoes for a few treks recently! Why didnt I notice it then?
3rd Lobo Mane
Ramesh, Adarsh and Rajeev
In little more than an hour, we entered an open field and Ramesh showed us the 2nd Lobo Mane ... soon to be followed by the 3rd. The real trek starts from this point ... where the path becomes a lot narrower and uphill. Immediately after the 3rd Lobo Mane was a steep climb up one of the hills which took us to some height and provided a panormanic view of the surrounding. On one side was a cascade of hills covered with lush green grass, interspersed with shola forests. To our front was more lofty hills, the tip of which having a sharp drop on one side and resembling a horse's face!
Cascade of Hills on one side
View of the Valley
We had to pass two more shola forests, the first one being notorious for leeches. We had our protection cover (of salt sprinkle) on and quickly passed through this treacherous stretch. On passing thro' this stretch, we spotted too many of the blood thirsty antennas tuning for human foot steps, but managed to stay away from many. There was one more small shola to follow and then we were soon out in the open looking at majestic hills all around us.
|Rajeev, the Conqueror!
A little more than an hour from Lobo Mane was a small rock with water trickling down from the top. At this point, the peak was looking pretty close, but we were kind of vertically below the flat face of the peak and climbing up from there was just not possible. The path meandered to the right side almost going away from the peak taking us to another beautiful view of the valley. We had to cross over to the other side of the hill. It took us almost half an hour before we started moving up again, sharply to reach the foothills. It was at this point that comments like "Gandhi bhi itna nahi chala hoga!" and "what an uphill task it is ..." started emanating :-) The group we met at the RFO had caught up with us by then and couple of guys in their group had made a decision to stay back. Time was already 2'O clock and we had to start thinking about making a timely return to Mullodi, which means, we had to start back from the peak by about 3.
But, the excitement of being 'almost there' kept pulling us up. Though a sign post en route reading "KMP 1.5" pointing upwards almost killed most of us, our guide was quick to assure that "its just another 15 mins ... and then its flat terrain!". Indeed in another 15 mins, we reached the foothills of Kudremukh peak and from there it looked like a medium climb. It still needed about 20 mins to reach the peak from this point. En route the guide also showed us the ruins of a church (built by British).
Kudremukh Peak is almost there!
On clear days, even Mangaluru (Mangalore) city is said to be visible from the top of Kudremukh, but we were not so lucky with a lot of cloud and mist cover. Neither did any of us had the energy to even get up and walk arnd! On reaching the top, we just threw our bags around and sat down to catch our breaths. We did open up our bags and had the bread pieces we had carried for lunch. It was such a relief but too meagre considering what I could eat at that point! But, that was enough boost for all of us to get up and click some snaps atleast! Finally, after 6 yrs of planning, and abt 4 hrs climb, we were on the top of Kudremukh peak :-)
Adarsh @ the Top
Me @ the Top
As decided, we started our descend almost 10 mins to 3. In spite of the slippery path we did descend down quickly reaching the rocky stream by (almost vertically below the peak) abt 3.30 abt almost uptill Lobo Mane, where we caught up with the two guys from the other group who had decided to return back. By then, the time was about 4.40 and it was safe enough with no signs of rain and enough time to reach back before dark. Henceforth, the descend was very slow, thanks to the slippery route, tired legs and a few streams to cross again. At this point, there were a few uphills too ... which sounded extremely difficult with my tired legs! But, I kinda laboured through the whole stretch, smelling and enjoying every flower on the way and looking back at the peak for its grandeour and glory! At one of the resting points our new found friends made comments like "Arrey ... yeh to bahut door hein yaar ...". The peak looked very far indeed from where we were at that point and it felt really good to have been right among those clouds ... just a few hrs ago!
Looking back ... Peak jutting out of the Hills ...
We were back in Mullodi by 6 as planned and crashed at the first spot we could find. At this point, I opened up my shoes for the first time and surprised to see no leeches inside. I was expecting atleast a dozen of them inside. This was indeed one of my first monsoon treks without any leech bite.
It took us a few minutes and the thought of having warm tea/coffee to bring us back to our feets. The remaining people from the other group not reaching was a small cause of worry but we soon heard voices and the jeep carrying them leaving back to the main road.
The night looked starry and clear to begin with .. but the clouds took over pretty soon and the thunderstorms came along with them. Soon ... it was raining cats and dogs! And all the plans I had to capture the star trails went with the rain :( After a quick bath in cold water we all waited for the food to be served ... and god knows how much food I ate ... and that too in no time! The mats were spread and the sheets were laid as early as 8 and we were all snoring by 9!
Stream @ Mullodi
The next day we woke up to a pleasant misty morning, visited the nearby stream for a bath, had a nice breakfast (akki roti and thengakay chatni - rice roti and coconut chatni) and said good bye to our hosts as early as 10'O clock. Ramesh accompanied us in the beginning but soon got bored by our slow descend and especially my camera! We let him go and continued on our own along the jeep track, taking a good two hours to reach back the main road.
Lunch @ Kalasa
At the main road, we took a bus heading to Kalasa and took a room there, killing the rest of the day eating some delicious food, sleeping, visting the Kalasa temple and simply walking around. Our Bengaluru bound return bus reached Kalasa by abt 10 and soon the thoughts wandered to things like monday, morning and blues!
Kudremukh was one of my most awaited treks and worth all the wait. But, there in the manual given by the forest officials, I spotted another of my long awaited trails ... the Kigge - Narasimhaparvatha - Agumbe trek ... which I'd once attempted with no success. It was time to plan for that trek once again!