The coordinator Jaya Siddarth introduces himself and tallies our names on the sheets. Somehow we get the impression that he's a serious and strict guy, only to learn later the next day that he has more fun than any of us and easily inspires others to enjoy the trek. The driver takes frequent breaks to keep at pace with the other tempo that carries another gang of travelers. We reach Chickmagalur in the morning at around 6:30, after going about 300 Kilometers. Beyond here, the only mode of transport to Samse Village is by jeep or on foot. So, jeeps ferry us in turn, along with our luggage and sleeping bags.
Now, it's time for the trek. We start off at 9 in the morning. From the beginning, I'm watchful for leeches on the muddy path. By alerting others whenever I notice one, I earn the coveted title “The Leech Hunter”. The path is initially muddy, then we come across shrubs and maneuver through thorns and wild grasses. At times, some of the gang takes a diversion, only to be alerted by our guide Satish to follow the group and not get lost. Soon we climb some extremely steep hills and reach the first peak at 11:20 A.M. Initially, novice climbers hesitate to cross the steep sections without ropes or safety-equipment, but after watching others, they realise it's not an impossible feat and do it themselves.
The return trip proves interesting, as many of us choose to slide much of the way, severely shredding our pants. We reach the homestay at 5:10 P.M. then take a ten-minute stroll to Somavathi falls. Reaching the falls is like running a hurdle race. One has to jump a few concrete barriers to get to the cascade. It's also possible to reach the waterfall by wading the stream, though one has to watch out for slippery rocks. Not everyone has the guts to swim at this late hour in the freezing mountains.
M.D.S. Prabu is a writer for a software company in Bengaluru, India. He's an avid traveller-cum-trekker. Starting his career as a journalist, he moved into the corporate sector to do content writing. Traveling to meet people from different countries, cultures and experiences intrigues him. His long-term plans include backpacking through South America, Europe and the northern parts of India. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and he blogs at http://mdsprabu.blogspot.com/.