“You need special shoes for Hiking and a bit of a special soul as well”
– Emme Woodhill
Trekking has always been a passion within which I could not pursue till very late in my life. The cycle of life followed from being a Student, doing a Job, Marriage, raising Kids while simultaneously handling a Job and the Children growing up to become independent. All along this cycle,while I grew from a Teenager to a Middle aged Woman, I could not find any company to accompany me for a trek.
Being a Mumbaikar and being now relatively free from routine Domestic chores, I desperately wanted to have an first hand experience of the scenic beauty of the Western Ghats and accordingly began looking for suitable company. Being fifty plus, my friends were not at all keen to go for a trek and were rather surprised to learn about my Trekking offer.
All set for the Trek
It is then that Google came to my help and on checking the net, I was delighted to locate a number of Trekking groups. I contacted several such groups and zeroed in on “Darkgreen Adventures” and learnt that they were organising a trek to Karnala Fort on a Sunday. I approached the enthusiastic Trek Leader Krishna (An adventurer lad younger than my son) and mentioned my age, of being a novice in Trekking but by god’s grace and having led a reasonably healthy lifestyle, I was fit and keen to join his Trek group.The Trek Leader was very supportive and advised me to check his message on WhatsApp regarding the dos & don’ts and the list of articles required to be carried for the trek. Having perused his message and being confident of myself, I was excited and began preparations for the Trek in full swing only to learn the cancellation of the Trek due to some unavoidable reasons.The group however planned another trek to Korigad Fort on the following Sunday(30th August 2015) which I very enthusiastically joined and thus began my First Trek.
Korigad Fort is located 20 kms away from Lonavala. It is about 929 m above sea level.There are two routes – one through Pethshahpur and the other through Ambavane. There were many first time trekkers in our group including myself and we took the peth route which is easier of the two routes. There are two lakes on top of the fort. A temple dedicated to its patron goddess Korai devi also exist along with several smaller temples dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva. The former has been recently renovated and has a 3 foot high Deepmala(Tower of lamps). The interesting part of the fort is that its wall is completely intact and one can walk along its entire perimeter (about 2 km). Its massive entrance gate is also intact. Several ruins of older structures within the fort still exist. It has six cannons – the largest of which called the LaxmiToph is located near the Korai Devi temple. You can trek to this fort anytime but monsoons are my favourite as the fort and its surroundings turn lush green.
A bus was arranged and my pick up was from Kharghar station at 8:00 in the morning.I became friend and bonded instantly with a fellow trekker Vidya who is a trekking veteran and shared her many trekking experiences with me all along our journey. We were so engrossed in our chat that we did not realise that we have already reached the base village where we freshened up and enjoyed a quick round of tea.
Since no food items are available at the top,it was very sweet of Krishna – our Trek Leader to carry home made Idli Chutney on his backpack which was relished by the whole group.We greatly appreciated the instruction to carry our own plates,spoons and glasses so that we do not litter the place with used paper plates, glasses and plastic spoons. We owe this to mother nature to help keep her plastic free.
After satisfying our growling tummies, we resumed our trek during which we walked for about 15 minutes through a dense jungle followed by climbing of about 510 well laid steps. All along our journey, we experienced Heavy rains but we were all geared up for same. I particularly loved the sound of pitter- patter and the rain water falling on my face made me feel very refreshed. In spite of the heavy downpour there were many photo sessions along the route with DSLR cameras and mobile phones. It took us about an hour to reach the top but it was worth the effort.
The trek was an exhilarating experience for me as I finally accomplished my childhood dream of going on a trek and was able to experience its sweet result. On reaching the top after climbing so many steps,I was feeling a bit dizzy and sort of blacked out while the younger members of the group were having good fun exploring the place. My dear friend Vidya gave me company and provided all support,confidence and boosted my morale till I began to feel normal again and during those enduring moments,I was able to make another lifetime friend!!
Both of us thereafter went about exploring the place. It was still raining heavily and the valley below was covered with thick fog and mist but after sometime, it cleared up to present a mesmerising view below. We strolled around the perimeter of the fort and also visited the cannon and temples and paid our homage to deity Koraidevi. To our delight we were able to locate a vadapav stall and a tea and pakora stall. A plate of Corn pakodas and ginger tea was indeed very refreshing.
The group had also carried some homemade rolls of veggies which disappeared in no time and I was lucky to grab some.The Trek Leader had arranged some games for us in which we all participated very enthusiastically taking me back to my childhood days! It was great fun with many prizes to win!!!!
The descend was faster and some of us managed to have a change of clothing in the homes of the villagers.One should be aware that there are no washroom on the trekking route but for the jungles.Hence, some of the women trekkers used the homes of the villagers to change and freshen up. Yummy vadapavs were served for our evening snacks at the base village.On our way back we stopped briefly at Lonavala to enjoy some chikki and cold coffee with ice-cream(It was still raining heavily) and finally headed back home with sweet memories of the Trek.
Let me tell you – when I at 50 + can trek, there is no reason for you to hold back. So pack your bag and put on your trekking shoes! What are you waiting for?
A perfect day with happy memories and new friends :