I am in office,thankfully not much of work load, and I actually want to say how awe-inspiring this trek on 14th Feb 2010 i.e. Valentine Day was; so here I am, trying to jot down all that my senses could capture…This trek and some of its special moments will remain imprinted in my reminiscence for time to come.

Getting up early in the morning at 4:30 happens only when you are going for an outing. We too were going for one such outing, a trek in Eastern Ghats. We were going to Nagala which is about 100 km from Chennai.
There were 38 couples; yes this was a Valentine’s Day Trekking in group of couples only. All excited and charged up for this Valentine’s Day trek.

I got to know through a colleague that Nagala is full of water all through the year, and there are streams and pools brimming with water. That would present ready opportunities for playing in water. Hence, when I got to know about the trek, though too late to sign up for the event organized by Chennai Trekking Club (CTC), I was too excited to stop myself from giving a try to be allowed to join the group and somehow we were allowed to join the Valentine’s Day trek. Thank you Vel for allowing us to join at the last moment. After being signed up, waited with bated breath for the D-day to show up! And show up…

I couldn’t control my enthusiasm what-so-ever and on Saturday night I got cold symptoms and had fever and running nose. Did I almost fell sick with excitement? May be yes…. The thought of crystal clear water, those tiny beautiful waterfalls, gurgling stream and varied colors rocks speckled across in the form of trinkets … Oh! My God! Every such thought was driving me fanatical. Moreover, we were supposed to join a group of other enthusiastic, in love couples on the treks and this was a pretty straightforward trail. So just the thought of imagination of the fun we would be having on the way and back made me ready to go…! To add to it, Valentines Day and I will be getting so much time with my guy, enough boosters for me, I must say.
I was surprised at the scene of not being laughed at by him when I put this idea in front of him.Infact it was he who did all the mailing formalities, something which he generally would not prefer to do. What more to expect; I was happy as a lark.

The 13th night dawned into the day with kind of no sleeping; we had to assemble at Koyembedu at 5:30 in the morning. I got into car with my PG auntie and uncle; and my hero joined us on the way. We got to know who was Vel and Arpita just be seeing their activity; both of them were busy in organizing things, putting up ‘CTC group’ pamphlets on the back of each vehicle so that they can be identified by the vehicle behind and all can reach the place in a better way. Soon, everyone assembled at the meeting point and we raced off to our dear home away from home … Nagalapuram. Most of the people were on cars and few on bikes. I got few opportunities to doze off on the way.We enjoyed instant sandwiches which both of us made with tomato ketchup and alu bujiya; chips, biscuits and others followed the suit. Music for soul and food for body, what else is required? ”Dil to bachcha hai ji” was in top of the charts played in car that day; Oh I just love this song!
We stopped on the way few times for petrol once and other times to keep all the vehicles in group to follow the correct path. Credit goes to Vel and Vikki to keep tab on all the vehicles in the group.

After around one and half hours we reached the place where we were supposed to park our vehicles and start our trekking. With our eye gears on and back packs ready we were all set to start. He was looking cool in the Tshirt I gifted him; so some self admiration on my choice!
We could see so many kids in that place from nearby villages. The CTC volunteers had arranged for breakfast, lunch, glucose and snack items. After distribution of food and other items for the day, remaining stuffs were given to those children and we started walking towards the forests.All relationships whatsoever survives and involves some elements of ‘give and take’ and so did our relationship with those kids; Vel told us giving those kids food and being friendly with them helps trekkers to forget their worries about their parked vehicles as this kids ensure their safety till the trekkers come back. Amazing lesson learnt,I must say.

We started walking, and also started my Baba Ranchod Das’ much awaited sermon.
”Why are we walking up when we have to come back to the same place, displacement is zero right, so what is the point in walking up and the down again?”;” Are we are from villages these are the places we have grown up with, is this really something to be in awe of?” are some of the tits and pieces of gyan I got right in the beginning of the trekking. As cute as they sound they had all the pun intended and I was as perplexed as I could be. Talking and giggling we walked and walked and walked…

The dam was in full magnificence when we reached it after a walk of two hours in plain land under the sun, I was awed by its beauty;the site of the dam though not brimming with water was too good not to be WOWed at. We had to climb an inclined wall made of dry reddish soil,rocks and stone to reach the dam’s top; and when you reach top of the dam to see the water it encloses,you feel like a man who just happened to see a mirage after being bewildered in dry desert.All including us took a few snap and the proceeded towards what it looked now was like the start of the jungle.

We walked along the dam,into the woods which would join someplace ahead at the regular path. Trekking until this spot was pretty much effortless. Regular ascents and descents later, we reached the first puddle. It was kind of instant refreshment for all, as we dipped our feet in the stream of water. I got to know that we can actually drink the water collected from the point of running stream; a little hesitant to sip it at the first instant, I was amazed to find it so refreshing and sweet.

The group was asked to start again after that short break. We started and this time the trekking was somewhat a difficult affair. On the way we were accompanied by few kids from the village. I was just startled by their proficiency in walking up effortlessly on rocks into the woods and that too without any shoes. They were very friendly and though we didn’t knew each other’s language we could actually communicate easily with them. My boyfriend was trying to learn how one of the boys amongst the kids was whistling; some on the trek knowledge transfer, I must say. I really liked trekking together and experiencing the care, concern and help rendered by him. I just loved it…

And yes how can I forget the company of the dogs all the way up and down on our trekking. Some were scared and some were friendly with them. Amongst the scared, on the top of the list was none other than my sweetheart; ha ha!!!! as usual he was petrified because of the dogs walking side by side all this while and specially because most of the time they will be near him somehow. I was referring one of the dogs as his best friend whenever seen near him. Whatever be the feeling, the dogs accompanied us throughout. At around 1 we reached another pool, bigger and clear. All had some rest with their feet in stream and splashes of fresh cool water on their faces. And then again on prompts from our guides Vel, Arpita, Rekha, Vikki we started again to explored the unknown; at least unknown for most in the group.

The very thought of the chilled water excited me to the core & amp; the realization that I could really play in water filled me with zilch thoughts.After climbing up a little more inclined rock,making our way through bushes and trees and thorns, we were told to halt for some time because the leads wanted to check out the easier path to reach the next water pool. After some time the leads told us that because of time constraints and the possibility of getting dark while returning we would not be heading towards the next pool and all shall walk down towards the water pool we left and came up.

As soon as the group reached the water pool, all plunged head long in the water and started jumping and diving. It was lot of fun to do it this time and without any help or fear.
Most of us I feel were non-swimmers, still we played and played and kept playing in water. The group was carrying special mats to help from rowning.Catching hold of that mat, all tried going in some deep waters in the pool, including me. Though I used to get a little scared, Rose and few were so very helpful with the non swimmers. The water was crystal clear and perfect cold, all the tiredness it seems was released in the pool. I enjoyed keeping myself submerged in the water, taking support from the rocks and tickles from fishes touching my feet. When I started shivering, I though I should come out now. Some quick snaps in water were cherries on the cake.

After changing into dry clothes, what we got was piping hot soups, cooked in middle of the jungle near pool and surrounded with rocks. Awww it was so very relaxing.

As we were enjoying our soup and snacks, Arpita came with bags full of heart shaped plane paper cards, color pens and glues. These stuffs were distributed to all the ladies, so that they can apply their creativity and write messages for their partner for the Valentines Day. Nice idea, I must say. All were seen busy with their cards in making with their imaginations flying in jungle, as what was seen as ladies sticking leaves, sand, stones, and flowers on their cards. I too had one ready and got a few complements for my effort. After around two hour’s excitement at this place later, we started to return.

All this while, the CTC guys…Vel, Arpita, Vikki and Rekha (our star photographer) were so very alert, conscious and concerned, I just felt so safe in their company, lead and guidance. Very good planning, organization and trekking skills guys!!!!The way they were making sure that none is left behind, all are in one group, giving moral booster to people like me…Hats off to you!!! Special thanks to Rekha for clicking snaps of the trekking group in general and some snaps of ours in particular.Clicking a few group snaps there, we started to move down. A few meters of a steep descend led us to the first small stream again. Hopping across the rocks, after around two hours we reached the dam again, talking, chatting, helping, caring, and making our experience to trek on a Valentines Day.

Near the dam we had few group snaps again. Climbing down the dam looked really difficult in comparison to climbing it up. Somehow everyone managed. Then again, one hour of walk to reach the car parking area. It was time to bid good bye to Nagala now and looking back at the 14 hours, we just could not accept as true, that we had so much enjoyment and an trouble-free way to go with.

Last but not the least thanks to my PG uncle and auntie for letting me know about this event; Vel, Arpita, Vikki and Rekha for being such an enthusiastic, caring and energetic guides; and all the couples for joining the trekking and making this world believe in love. May all your days be like a Valentine’s Day! Three cheers for CTC, our trekking leads and all the participating couples!!!