I’m back! From the trek that is. Would have let you know sooner, but when I got home, I found I couldnt move a muscle, and just toppled onto the bed and slept, dreaming dreams full of modern comforts far away from freezing hills. However I am happy to report that with great determination, I am now able to will me fingers into moving enough to allow me to type.
For those who didnt know, I’d gone to Skandagiri, some 70 kms from Bangalore on a night trek. I was in charge of getting the tents and sleeping bags. and these having been duly procured, along with a lesson in pitching tents, I was happily daydreaming about reaching the peak, when, enveloped by cold winds, the others would turn to me in desperation, and I would pitch the tents up in a flash, and roll out the sleeping bags, to the eternal gratitude of all. The reverie put me in high spirits, untill suddenly I remembered that I was also supposed to book tickets for the bus journey.
I quickly logged onto the government transport (KSRTC) website and tried to reserve tickets online, but despite it confirming the presence of the service, it refused to make the booking. Worried that there were no free seats available, I quickly rang up the KSRTC office and inqured about the bus to Skandagiri. The person only told me that there was no direct bus to the place, and that Chickballapur was the nearest stop and hung up. When I rang back, it was a different person who answered. When I asked him if there was a bus to Chickballapur that night , I was greeted with silence. What I took for thoughtful contemplation, was actually shock at the stupidity of the question. Unaware, I pressed on with the inquiry, but the guy cut me short and proceeded to inform me what he thought of morons who rang up to inquire about availability of 6 seats in buses with a frequency of 15 minutes and which run half empty. He went on untill, he was no longer in any doubt that I didnt understand the operation of Chickballapur buses. Rattled, but relieved that we could still make it there, i informed the others that we would meet up at the Majestic bus terminus at 7 30, to which everyone immediately agreed.
And proceeded to arrive there at 8 30 on the dot. After a careful scrutiny of hotels in the area, we had a relaxed dinner, and boarded the bus at peace with the world, some 2 hours later than planned.
An hour long bumpy ride later, we found ourselves in the middle of a dusty road with few people in sight and certainly no hills. Presently spying a truck driver, we went around and inquired the directions to Skandagiri. He looked at us thoughtfully, uttered ‘S-KAN-DA-GIRI’ in a low contemplative voice, took a moment and delivered his verdict- ‘There is NO place called Skandagiri in this entire district’. He probably expected us to be devastated, and was disppointed to find us merely looking back puzzled. He repeated the statement helpfully before driving away.
Further inquiries with other people in the area (a sleepy autorickshaw walla and a gentleman relieving himself by the road) also revealed a singular lack of knowledge of the hill’s location. However a phone call back to Bangalore later, we had on our hands a set of directions off the internet, and we started off with a spring in our stride..
Part 2: The freezing trail, coming up shortly