So on a fair Saturday morning (when civil trial was canceled yet again), six of us set out to conquer Kalwarbetta (Skandagiri) with the help of the Bangalore Mountaineering Club (BMC). Having managed to fit all of us and our heavy backpacks into one cab we headed for the pickup point at MG Road. After many stops all over Bangalore and a hearty breakfast we set out to Skandagiri.
We reached the spot around 10:30 a.m. where introductions were made and grub for the afternoon was handed out. It was at this point that we realized that all our backpacks (which could have stood us through a siege at the fort on top of the hill) did not contain the one thing which has been considered essential for trekking since the invention of a portable plastic bottle - SUNSCREEN LOTION.
Resigning ourselves to sunburnt faces we crawled uphill. 3 hours, much sweating and after my attempt to disoldge a 10 by 13 foot boulder with the left side of my face (I know, I know - the poor boulder) we finally reached the summit.
The summit was, needless to say, gorgeous. Magically, the sun which has unrelentlessly been beating down on us disappeared and was taken over by a wonderful breeze that threatened to blow us off our feet. The battered old ruins give you a wonderful sense of history. Of course, the presence of the ubuquitious plastic bottle reminds you that no place is truly untouched (STOP LITTERING).
For those who are not exhausted by the sheer energy involved in climbing up, there are quite a few places to explore on that small summit. Predictably, the 6 of us flopped down, attacked our food like dying men and women, took the cursory pictures, patted our backs on our wonderful achievment and nervously contemplated the downhill climb.
We began our descent at 3:15 after being rounded up much like cattled with the exception that our herdswoman was an irritating enthu cutlet.
After much deliberation and calculating the exact stone and angle that would prevent us from falling, falling anyways, many shouts of encouragement (At times it felt like a labour room) and fervent prayers, we finally reached the bus. After two hours of not seeing anyone but the six of us, we finally spotted our digruntled fellow trekkers (who must have been mountain goats in a previous life) who heaved sighs of relief that the bus could finally leave.
The bus carted us back and one average meal (watch out for my review of the Garam Naram Dhaba) and an emotional fight with the auto driver (which involved 3 police fficers and a collection of Bangalore junta) we were definitely back in civilization.
The entire trip cost us Rs. 600 including transport, breakfast, lunch and guide. It was excellently organized and do check out www.bmcindia.org for further details. But don't pack your bags quite yet. Read my "Tips on Trekking: The Things that No one told you but you Should know" post.