Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sakleshpur - Green route trek along railway track

Sakleshpur Railway track Trek
Donigal > Yedakkumari > Subramaniya road.

Sakleshpur trek aka 'Green route' trek had been a dream route for all trekkers, and remains at top in the list of 'treks to be done' for any trekker in Karnataka. And the hype didn't prove wrong at all.
We had company of a random group who had planned the trip in orkut. We started towards, Hassan in a cab, and had our break fast at 6.30 am in Sakleshpur. The starting point of our trek was at an abandoned railway station at Donigal, which comes along NH48, on the highway from Hassan to Mangalore. The entire railway track is along the western ghats and interspersed by numerous bridges covering valleys and streams and also dotted with around 45 tunnels.

We started from Donigal station in the morning to reach the first-day target of Yedakkumary railway station. The bridges were very intimidating, the wooden ridges spanning across the rails had a lot of gaps between them and a small slip would take us all the way down the valley. And off course the intermediate trains that come along make the situation worse, we got to be careful and listen to sounds of train before going ahead along a bridge or a tunnel. Till Yedakkumary  we had to cross from tunnels no 5 to 18. Each tunnel were from 100 m upto 600 m and impossible to walk without a decent flash light. All most half the distance were covered with bridges and tunnels and offered a number of scintillating views down the stream and valleys.

We lived through the beautiful landscapes and track views that had come in famous Maniratnam Tamil movie 'Thiruda  Thiruda' most of which was shot along this track. At around 12th tunnel there was a beautiful water falls and stream and had our bath there. We lighted up a small fire and prepared our MTR ready to eat and had our lunch at the same place. We continued further and after about an arduous 16 Km, and after 18th tunnel which was an agonizing 488 m of darkness, at 6.30 pm we could see the platform and the board spelling Yedakkumary railway station.

We spent the night at the platform and had our sleep on a sleeping bag.
The next day we were supposed to trek along the track till Subramaniya railway station, however owing to lack of food supplies we decided to take the track down the forest towards the highway in the middle of the track. The lone station master present at the railway station offered us some advice to take a short cut right from the railway station through thick vegetation which should take us to the highway with a 4 km trek.

The Lost Saga:
But half way through the trek we realized we were lost in the woods. We were stranded in the middle and every direction we took either ended in a narrow ridge of streams or stopped abrupt at a plunging valley. In spite of GPS and trying to decipher the sounds of trains in tracks, after about 3 hours we were not even able to trace our way back. Adding to the panic were numerous leeches, which started infesting all of us. As I would stop to remove a leech in my one leg, another two would scale up along my other leg. Each of us got infested with more than 10 leeches and got numb of leech bites after 3 hours.

At about 1 pm, we had almost given up and were resting near a stream, when we heard a sharp train sound. One of us ran towards the sound which was upstream and yelled out big time, telling us that he was under a railway track bridge. We had a relief of our lives. With some risk we climbed atop the bridge along the sides and were relieved to see that we were back in track but were back at the 16th tunnel infact in front of Yedukkumary station. All we had had over the day was a single apple, and had nothing left. What we had infront of us was a long and fast trek towards the highway.

We did everything but bashing the station master, and started along the track.
We found couple of small trams carrying some of the workers/inspectors and work was on progress to upgrade this track into a functional broad gauge. They helped us through the routes and at about tunnel 35 there was a path to right which we had to take to reach the highway. After about 7 km along this way  through a path down the forest, we reached the Kempuhole river at about 6pm crossing which would take us to the highway.

One of us got a mobile signal and called up the cab driver to come the exact spot in the highway.
The river was flowing wild and almost shoulder deep. On top of that we saw a guy from opposite side shouting at us to cross fast, informing us that water would be released from the dam any time soon and the level of water would only increase. With a life threatening situation looming at us, we managed to straddle across the water in a chained fashion, with a few of us loosing our mobile to water and current. With huge relief and lots of thanks to God, we were back at the highway where we waited for the cab which would take us safely back to Bangalore.