"Getting to the summit is optional,
getting down is mandatory" 

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Dhak Bahiri



Proposed Treks

feature story - Chandragad

Day 1:

Pravin, Tushar, Nilesh, Kaustubh(ex-kenatian), kalyan(ex-kenatian) and myself were set to Chandragad trek on 17 Mar07, Saturday morning 6am from Swargate. Kalyan had never been to such a big trek and Nilesh was coming first time for the trek. Rest all guys has some good trekking experience. From Swargate-Pune we caught early morning(6am) ST up to Vai fata on Satara highway. There on we Hired Jeep to Mahabaleshwar Arthur seat point. Arthur seat point is the starting point for this trek.

After having enough of breakfast we started off from the 'window point' which is near Arthur seat at 10am. Starting point of trek was a 8-10 meter of vertical rock patch. There was a monkey on the rock to welcome us on our trek. One by one we covered the rock patch successfully. Plan of this trek was to climb down Mahableshwar for at least 5-6 Hrs and then climb up to Chandrgad for next 2 Hrs. Trail was just too slippery and steep, to cover 20 Meter we're taking almost 10-15 minutes. We walked through beautiful and dense forest and from edges of the valley. Views on both sides of the walk were awesome. Nilesh spotted one wild dog in the forest while walking. After 2Hrs of walk we reached at the water cistern on the road. This is the only water source available on this route. We took a short break, had snacks and resumed the walk. Our estimate was that we'll reach the base village within next 3 Hrs and then we'll climb up the fort. In actual this walk took us 6Hrs due to dense forest, steep road, missing routes in the forest etc. After couple of Hrs of walk we're again in beautiful and dense forest. Tushar and I were walking together ahead in the group. We went so ahead that we lost rest of the guys. At one point we unknowingly missed the trail and walked in the wrong path. We walked for 1-1.5 Hrs through various rocks, waterfalls. It was 4:30 in the evening when we stopped walking and decided to come together as it was going to get dark within an hour. We started screaming names of other guys in the forest, we were receiving no response from anywhere. After 15-20 Mins we started getting response from other guys. Fortunately Kaustubh/Nilesh were on right track, so we caught them following their voice in the jungle.

After 8Hrs of walk we reached the base village 'dhavale wadi' at 6pm, everyone was so exhausted that we dropped plan to climb up the fort. We stayed outside house of a villager, who cooked us delicious food(egg curry). Then with soft talks and hard drinks we enjoyed the night.

Day 2:

On second day only Kaustubh, Tushar and myself were ready to go on the fort. Out of us that Tushar got dropped off for some reasons. So only Kaustubh and myself proceeded to the fort. After walk of an Hour we lost the main trail and went in the forest. There Kaustubh got severe injury in his feet so he decided to go back to village. I told him that as I'm now close to the fort top, let me continue with climbing and I'll meet him in the village. He OKed that and started walking down. Now this was the biggest mistake I did, to continue in the forest on my own. I kept on climbing for next 30 mins, it was steep, slippery and with various rock patches. At one point I got tired and decided to rest for a while. So I caught one rock and small tree to rest on. I just had a look beneath me and was shocked to see that the place from where I climbed up was nothing but almost vertical valley. On top to me was completely vertical rock of about 10Ft. It was impossible for me to climb down due to slippery way and steepness, I was damn sure to slip on that way down. If I decide to climb up and make a single mistake then I would be going down the valley at least 100-150 Meters like a rolling stone. There was no one around me for miles, no range to my cell and I was completely stuck. All I can do was just think.

Beauty and importance of the my life was flashed in front of my eyes for a while, I was thinking there is nothing more important than my life and I should try everything needed to save it.

So I started calculating the risk of climbing up and down, searching various routes which I can take and risks involved on each of the route. For next 10-15 Min I was standing on same rock with support of a small tree and thinking about it. Suddenly I spotted group of 7-8 people climbing up the fort. Within next 2-3 seconds they were about to disappear behind the big rock, before that only I called them up. That was group of elder climbers from Pune. When people heard my voice and spotted me they were shocked to see the place where I was standing. Their first reaction was 'How the hell you reach there, and what are you going to do now'. They suggested me trying climb down, which I refused as I was 100% sure of failing that way. I asked them for help but I was at such location that they were helpless. I asked those people to at least stay there and I'll try to catch them. Having someone around gave me confidence I needed desperately.

I climbed next 10-12Ft of rock and tried to move in their direction. There was a navigator guy in that group(watadya) from local village, seeing me trying various ways to save myself, he then decided to help me out. He started climbing towards me, at first people with him refused him to go as he was risking his life to save my, but he proceeded. He came to one point beyond which he could not move, now it was my turn to reach up to him and get his help from that point onwards. So I decided to take next rock patch, which was most difficult. It was 8-10Ft wide rock with 5-6 Ft height. There was space enough to hold my foot at base of that rock, but rock had nothing which I can grip on by hand. I hugged the rock and move ahead step by step. Within next 10Mins I caught that guy, his name was 'Ravi More'.

He asked me to be confident and trust him. Along with him I walked off various rock patches and difficult routes and reached the proper trail. At some rock patches where I could not grip on the rock, Ravi used to throw his cloth which I grabbed and used as support to climb up. When I came on the right path of the fort, all uncles from that group started yelling, screaming at me. I was listening to them quietly as it was my mistake. Some of them appreciated my efforts and greeted me. Along with them I went to the top of fort, enjoyed great view of the valley around me and returned back to the village with all this experience. This experience taught me many lessons which I'll never forget in my life. In novels, stories, movies I'd heard people saying that life flashes in front of your eyes when your life is in danger, they are damn right.

I reached back to village on time, talked to everyone about the incidence. We caught ST/Jeep and reached Mahabaleshwar to enjoy our next evening with hard drinks and 'hard talks' this time.

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