Friday, September 22, 2006

Kodachadri beacons - Offroad adventure

Some VDOs of the ride:

While trekking to the top, blowing fog

At the top of a hillock getting blown away by the wind

Pix by vicky

After the Goa ride in full rain, we thought to lay low for some time. But within three weeks the itch showed and we needed a ride. Vicky put up kodachadri as destination for the last monsoon ride for the year. Kodachadri needs 10KMs of tough offroad climb where only four wheel drive jeeps ply. It would be raining too now. The challenge is tempting. Raghu and varun showed interest but with inevitable reasons couldn't make it. So just the 2 of us n i caught this dreaded sinus cold too. But the ride must go on :D.

Day 0:
Friday evening all ready to head out directly from office. Vicky's boss made sure that he would start 2 hours late. 9PM by the time we meet up at Shell bunk. Give each other a HiFi and start towards nelamangal. Go past it and have dinners at kamats before tumkur. Get lazy on the dinner and loose an hour there. Shimogga was our halting point. Then on the night ride was turning out to be good. We just cruise along 90s. KS state highways are generally with low traffic. We ride close by and it was fun taking the curves both riding parallel. See the odometer munching KMs fast but knew soon, as the night goes deep it would start running in slow motion (our perception that is). Take a lazy tea break at arsikere at 1 am. 100 more kms to to. Once u go 150 kms west its all wet and we get into our derby rain suits. Though we dont catch rain on the way. get to shimogga at 3 am and catch some rest. Thats a good 3 hours behind schedule. ZzZzZ.

Day 1:
Late to bed and late to rise. Get ourselves moving by 9 am. Take a deviation of the road towards kollur. On the way we see white uniform clad kids in a rural school performing their Saturday morning physical training drill. Vicky wants to shoot em. Now this gets the kids giggling and start getting anxious to look good in the pic hehe. 1 of the kids even braves the teachers and come running to vicky to say thanks for taking the pic. :) We derby boys put on our derby suits as rain will give us company. Then this elderly man comes to me on a cycle and says he's the head master of the school. "Good morning to you sir" i say, and pretty surprised by us coming all the way from bangy on bike, invites us for some snacks and tea. We politely decline with a thanks and move one. All of a sudden we see a small moss covered fort to the left!!. Never knew about a fort in that area and nothing was mention near it too. We also see the door close as we stop by. Wats so secretive cos all we saw was legal warning!!. Carry on through the lush greens on either side of the road. Get many bridges along. It was all soothing ride but i was a bit tense as i heard about the climb from the guys from last time and its also raining happily and its gonna be wet there. Get to the deviation and vicky shows this evil grin on his face... Well i just hope my michelin holds up. Now on the path and it soon shows up it color and fears realised:D, its all wet and slushy. trying it ne way and the adventure begins. The terrain was getting worse by the meter and we riding mostly bouncing. But the surrounding was getting bettor, with the mist and rain intermittent. We got hair pin bend climbs. There was traffic too. the awestruck jeepers who have not seen ne crazy guys coming their on a bike. It was tough for those jeeps to maneuver around our bikes. It was all getting rocky and surprisingly not much slippery. Though i could see vicky on his piralli struggle a bit, my michelins held on pretty well. As we get higher, it got misty and we take n number breaks to grasp it. was cold n windy and was like we were in another dimension. the terrain was not even 10 % as bad here compared to my trip to himalayas. But the excitement was great. Get to some small plane enroute and boy was it windy and blowing fresh gust of fog from below. We were just not able to face the direction of the wind. We move on and visibility reduced drastically and we see nothing of the majestic mountain range and its gonna be like that till we get down.

After taking around 3 hours to do all the 10 kms we are the inspection bungalow area.
we dump our luggage at the house of the temple's priest. N we end up in the same small room kinda thing where guys had stayed last time. We rest for a while. Theres no electricity no nothing. Its got pretty chilly by now. We are treated to hot sumptuous meal there. We kinda thought to make Udupi as the stay for the night but we still got a trek to the kodachadri peak top. Theres just an inspection bungalow and 3-4 houses at the top and there are some tourists too who have all come on jeeps. N by now we were the grape wine among the locals, of some 2 crazy guys braving on the bikes till there. We start of trek with just over an hours day light left and hardly 10 feet we can see. We still go ahead though we knew nothing much we could see cos of the fog and vickys photographic desire seems to be fading. But then we are in for a different experience than we planed for. Along we met a few techies coming down from the trek. Have a chat. It’s like if u r in a remote part of karnataka and come across young ppl speaking English, then they gotta be software engineers from bangalore. hehe. Boy these guys have nothing bettor to do :p. We go ahead tricky paths lay ahead. at the top, when we were passing a mound, we could see the ahead getting blasted by the wind and the fog. WOW it was out of the world experience. Get to the summit and there's this small temple. Vicky fancies some photography front he shelter but not before taking on a few leeches. Spend some time there and we have to get back. kinda worried not find our way if its gets dark, but we make it down for the shack just in time. Wow that was good. But now too late to climb down and we decide to stay there for the night in the small excuse for a room with no electricity, no beds too. We get a lamp and few mats and rugs to make do with. We just bike chat till we get sleep and vicky sees these couple of leaches on the mat. eeeks, kinda get the feeling they are every where. Try to get the room else where no good. Just sleep tight hoping they don't get into our ears :D.

Day 2:
As usual get up late and we think we left the place by 8 am. But we are not done with kodachadri yet. Comparatively less fog today and we get blessed with awesome views every now and then. 1 of the local wonders y did we come in 2 bikes when both could have come in 1 bike!! gosh when will ppl stop looking at bikes as just a mode of transportation to carry 2 ppl. We start our lazy climb down through the mesmerising terrain :D. Stop n number of times for pix and all. En route we get interviewed by surprised trekkers. Who take pix of us, kinda felt like we were putting on a act for em. Then they request us to take one of them down and help them find their bus!! duh haa, like we were on a mission to provide 2 wheeled taxi service in remote parts hehe. But we assured then that we would look out for their bus instead. Now we get off the path and on to the hills with light green grass. One of my child hood dreams come true. Kinda wanted go the place with the light green grass like in cartoons. N this was as close it it could get.:) Then i show a steep jeep track going up to a hillock and before i could think whether to, vicky was already on it. i take some of his pix and soon i too join him. It was really ultimate up there. Quite windy, and we could see the cloud of fog approaching from the valley engulfing all the mountains hitting the base of our hill and shooting up and blast us with the gust of fog. This was pretty close to flying through the clouds. Nothing we could see and in a few minutes every thing is clear. the same thing repeats again. Munch on some snacks and din feel like getting down from there at all. The wind blows of my helmet and it lands face first and breaks the visor. oooh not good, luckily its not disintegrated and thought of taping it some place. Some ppl goin in the jeep below stop just to look at us on top of the hill take our pics and go hehe:D. But wat goes up has to come down. This trip is simply one of the best. Now we make it down hill through that treacherous path taking our own time. Found slippery patch and n bike does a 180 before falling hehe. pic it up and by the time we reach the base the trekkers on foot have reached there long back. n they thought we do be fast on our bikes :D. Time's still 12 and boy are we doin good time.

We start towards udupi as vicky wants to do some evening photography at malpe beach. Some distance ride was an absolute treat with mist and rain and waterfalls by the road every now and then. Tape my visor in a town much to my reprieve. Approaching the coast it gets warm n a bit humid. On a dry patch we try to get our selves some lean pix, but by the time my turn is over, vicky's SLR lens gets foggy inside. not good, we leave with a very dissopointed vicky with his cam. After some nice ride, we get to the coastal highway and malpe beach it is. Time 2.30 n pic ma fone update home n wat hell, the time's 5 pm. Wow, ma watch was malfunctioning and we thought we were making good time all day hehe. The fog in the lens has cleared and vicky is happy. Have a grub, dump our luggage in the hotel and walk along the beach to a less crowded place. Vicky fancies his photography of the dusky beach. Gets dark and time to go. We think of sakleshpur and then call it a day. Get to a nice hotel and naively waste time and its 10 pm by the time we leave. 180 kms to cover and thought of goin through mangalore and how bad could 30 kms of spoiled shiradi ghats compared to kodachadri!!!. Big mistake. Udupi to mangalore road it self was in shambles and painfully reducing our pace and tired us pretty quickly, i almost lost my bag as the bungees came off. Jeez y do they call this national highway?!?! but that was not all. We thought of carrying on without looking at the time. Roads from mangalore too spoiled at some places but we knew it was not done yet. Then small distance of good roads just to raise our spirits and lo the climb of the ghats begin. Oh daaamn oh daaaamn, It cannot be called a road in the remotest sense. Its totally obliterated by the vagaries of nature. With disgruntled truckers and bus drivers not giving and damn at us and to make to interesting we go rains to now too ohh goodie :D. All this on our tired self past mid night!!. We weavie side to side between slow moving monsters to find the next bikable patch. Kinda go the higher edge of the curve where we could find 6 inches of intact road and we were doing the balancing act. A slip could be risk with uneven slushy slippery terrain either side. I loose vicky as i got stuck between trucks and he not to be seen for some time, n i slow down as much as my poor light allows. N there is no 1 around its dark, and just to scare myself more, stopped a moment, killed the engine just to feel the eerie darkness :D. Spooky it was and i start again to find concerned vicky waiting for me in some distance. Then we move along together and Get to sakleshpur and look at the fone. damn its 4 am. Phew both tired to the core and next day making to the office out of question now. We shack up at vicky's relative place with no alarms. Phew.

Day 3:
Get up at 8.30 and i get breakfast. Call up office about my unavailability that day :D. Vickys wants to be there for a couple of days and i make a move to bangy. Some 220 kms. Though i think of checkin out some other place on the way, was too tired for it and thought of making it non stop to home. Riding dry and in the sun for a change :). Maintaining good pace i get to kunigal 150 kms in 110 mins and hit reserve. Blah so much for my non stop ride. Fuel up and next stop home at 2.30 pm. Well earned rest in the offing :D Boy wat a ride simply loved it all 948 Kms of it. Was an offroading over dose in the later parts but in the end it was an experience i wouldn't want otherwise.