Date : 28 th April 2013Venue : Kohoj
Participants : Dhanidutt Dhanidutt Bhatt, Gautam Gautam Gaikwad, Subodh Subodh Bhave, Varun Varun Bhosale, Abhijeet Abhijeet Kesarkar, Girish Girish Ganoo, Imran Imran Vasta
First of all let me introduce you to Dhanidutt Bhatt. He is my first trekking buddy along with Viraj Hadkar who introduced both of us to trekking. Till date we thank and curse Viraj for doing so. Although we thank him more. Viraj is our first trekking guru and we also have couple of others. Viraj is one of the most resourceful trekkers. Dhani and myself started trekking together and Dhani was my regular trekking partner in the my initial trekking expeditions. Both Dhani and Viraj have a special place in my heart as trekking buddies. My first trekking buddies (somewhat like first love).
But hang on, whenever Dhani and myself get together for a trek craziest of things seems to happen. Not just during the treks but also during traveling part also. To start with we were never comfortable trekking with trek groups, so we always planned and did treks on our own. We plan meticulously but some how the execution seems to go haywire. Sometimes from haywire to extreme horror. And sometimes to the extent of NDE (Near Death Experience). Keeping this in mind read the below experience of this trek.
It all started with Subodh, Varun and myself decided to do a baby trek in this sweltering heat. Date chosen was 28 th April and venue selected was Karnala. But an unfortunate incident of bee attack happened in Karnala a week before and so we changed the venue to Kohoj. So a single day trek to Kohoj was planned and we would travel by Girish’s car. If required Varun will bring his bike.
Just couple of days before the trek on 26 th April I was returning home from night shift and in the early hours of the dawn I saw the full moon and immediately a wild idea struck my mind to do a night trek. Since Dhani had already done Kohoj before it would help us in this cause. I immediately messaged Subodh and if it was all right with him to change the Kohoj trek to night trek. But since Girish was not available on Saturday meant the plan was not workable. And even others were not too positive with the idea.
I was a bit disappointed but not for too long. Enter Dhani. He agreed and so we both decided to go ahead with the night trek on the night of 27 th April and others would come on 28 th April early morning as planned. To add to our pleasure, Gauti also agreed to join us for the night venture.
On the evening of 27 th April Dhani and I met at Thane ST stand to catch a bus for Palghar. Gauti who stays in Nalla Sopara was to approach from the western side and would meet us at Mastan (Manor) Naka. The last Palghar bus was supposed to leave at 6.45 pm at Thane, but it didn’t happen since the bus never arrived. Meanwhile at 7.15 pm a Boisar bus arrived and since it was routed to go from Mastan naka we caught that bus. I asked the routine of the bus and as per my guess the bus would pass from Vaghote (base village of Kohoj). The conductor confirmed it and that was the last bit of happy news we got that day. I immediately messaged Gauti to come directly to Vaghote from Mastan naka since we had got direct bus to Vaghote from Thane.
The bus started and the fun began. I asked conductor ticket for Vaghote but conductor said he was going to issue ticket only upto Bhiwandi. Why, coz they would ask for diesel at Bhiwandi stand and if those people refuse to give then the bus would terminate at Bhiwandi itself. OMIGOD. Bet this is the first case of its kind and you would have never imagined of such a thing could happen. But don’t be surprise (read 2 nd paragraph of this write-up carefully). The bus reached Bhiwandi and in the meantime Gauti was already at Vaghote. Poor fellow had to wait there all alone for about hour and a half in absolute solitude and dark wilderness.
Meanwhile after a heated argument between buswala and Bhiwandi stand wala, they agreed to give diesel and we thought our luck has changed. At about 10.30 we reach Vaghote and met Gauti who was waiting for us restlessly. Three of us immediately set of for the trek with Dhani leading the trail. Our first target was to find the second lake from where the actual trail for the fort starts. We couldn’t find the lake and we managed to reach a Shelta village which is far ahead. We tried to find someone in the village to ask for directions. An impossible task in late night as villagers retire for the day early. Almost all the houses had TV set on but when we knocked the door and asked if anyone is there, nobody responded. It reminded us of Aahat scene.
But soon we found couple of good Samaritans sleeping outside their house. We cordially woke them up to their bemusement. Asked for the directions and thanked them for their help. We turned towards the direction specified by them. We found a hand pump nearby and filled our extra 5 liter water bottles. Both Dhani and myself had carried almost about 9-10 liters of water each, since no water would be available on fort during this season. As we moved ahead a snake crossed our path. It was small maybe around 2 & ½ feet but Dhani said the snake was definitely poisonous since it had a tapering head. Thanks Dhani for that information in that late night.
Soon we found the second lake and we were now on the right trail. But something was fishy since we were ascending and zigzagging around a water path and every now and then we were going off trail. We found some villagers around the path, but they were not in a cooperative mood. Guess they were on their hunting expedition and didn’t trust us. We reached the first plateau into the dense jungle and reach a resting point among the boulders which Dhani identified and was sure he knew the path thereafter. But this good news would soon turned bad news.
We had some idlis during the break. Dhani picked up a path and we tried to move ahead but soon the trail ended. Dhani was adamant this was the correct direction and there exists a traverse somewhere above and we should keep ascending. So in the heart of the night we were ascending a non-existing trail in search of a non-existing traverse. We were climbing the rocks and scrambling through screes of mud and stones. And as we moved up the difficulty left level also moved up. And in the end we were on the base of a 150 feet rock wall staring right in front of us.
This was it. Now we had no option but to return. Dhani and Gauti insisted that we should spend the night there and maybe descend back to the plateau after the sunrise. Maybe there were already over-worked and exhausted. But I was not going to spend the remainder of the night sitting and holding on the edge of a scree. And so we moved down which was also not an easy task. After a lot of slipping, sliding and bum trekking we reached back to the plateau. But now we were not able to find that resting point from where we had started. After searching it for a while we picked up another spot and decided to rest there. Right in the heart of the jungle and in open. It was already 4 am now and time to have dinner brought by Dhani. Chappatis and batate ki sabzi.
We slept for a while and sun was soon out 6 am. Subodh also called to inform that they had reached the base village Vaghote by car. So somewhere around 6.15 am Subodh, Girish, Abhi and Varun started their trek. We, on the other hand decided to prepare some black tea. After 45 minutes of struggle we managed to prepare the black tea which tasted more like Dadimaa ka kadwa Kaada. Yes the generous Dhani had put all the tea powder which he had brought in the tea.
About 7.15 am we were almost ready to re-start our adventure but now in the daylight. Received call for Subodh and they were already on the plateau and by the look of the things they were ahead of us. We started to walk on the plateau leftwards and soon we found the resting spot and the actual trail also which we missed last night. We kept
marching ahead and soon we heard the voices of our co-trekk
ers. After ascending a bit we met our 4 friends and it rejuvenated us. We shared previous night experience and screw-ups much to their amusements. We then moved ahead and were on the top plateau by around 9.30 am. On the way 4-5 honey bees were pestering us (especially Gauti) and unwantingly we could relate this to the Karnala incident and tried to get away from them.
On the top we reached the mandir, rested and had some refreshments. We then moved along the plateau for some well-earned sight seeing and photography. The heat was on and time to trek back. The descent in the heat was exhausting and about 11.30 am we reached the lake. We took a dip in the lake to have a much needed cool down. Around 12.30 we were back in Vaghote marking the end of the trek.
I learned a few lessons learned during the trek.
1. Always trek wearing shoes. I was trekking on floaters and the dense jungle made me nervous. Also in the scree patches during the many slips my feet had suffered immensely.
2. Never do a night trek with less number of people. Somehow we felt during the night that 3 was too little count for a night trek.
3. As much as possible avoid ascending/descending patches where no trails exists.
4. Dhani’s night vision is not good. So do not ask him to lead trails during the night.
The very idea to do a night trek was to do some Kidaagiri with a simple and straight forward trek. The end result turned out that way as well. But it was a stunning and memorable experience for three of us. Every now and then we have this craving for the unknown and desire to challenge our own self. To come out of the comfort zone and daily routines of life and do some thing out of the ordinary. This was one such event.
A VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY SPECIAL THANKS TO DHANI AND GAUTI !!!! God bless u …