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Yedakumeri Railway Trek



How it all began
The trek to Yedakumeri (also Edakumeri) has been one of the best treks that I have ever done. It had an element of surprise, spooky villagers, risky bridges, really eerie tunnels full of Bats :O, a forest fire and not to forget the best of jungles, waterfalls and streams. Seen 'em all in a matter of 1 ½ days; wow what an experience.

It all started when Biju, Vishu, Sanju and I went on a four day ride cutting across Karanataka. On the way back, we did the Ghat sections from Mangalore to Sakleshpur and I knew I was gonna to come back to this place, to trek and see nature at its best.

So when I saw the idea of a trekking group to be formed at my company, I jumped at this opportunity. One of the first posts was the dream trek that I wanted to do, one of the MUST Do’s that I had in mind. So the core team got together to work on this really difficult trek.

The planning was immaculate, regular meetings, status updates, and delegation of responsibilities. WOW, never done such professional work even for projects. We actually had used collabsuite and conferencing facilities so people from all the different places could join for the trek planning. It was really crazy and credit should go to Pradeep for taking the initiative in putting all the people together.

On the last ride to Coorg with the 60Kph gang, I happened to mention about this trek. Freya and Vikas were immediately interested with Vikas dropping out later on hearing the group size of 35.

Night before the trek
March 11th, 2005. 10:00 PM
Friday night, everybody assembled at OTP. Camping gear, backpacks, sleeping mats, food, everything was organized by the core team. Assembled everything together and loaded the bus at 10:30 PM. By 11:30 PM we had finished our loading and got people to settle in the bus and started for Gundiya. Thirty Trekkies all raring to go, a few of them experienced and a lot of them first timers.

I couldn’t sleep all night since I was very uncomfortable in the bus. Buses ain’t fun any longer once you are addicted to riding.

Morning at 6:30 we reached Gundiya, the spot from where we were going to start our trek. Gundiya is some 30 Kms from Sakleshpur towards Mangalore. The entire team loaded their respective tents and sleeping bags onto their backpacks.

The Spooky Surprise
March 12th, 2005 7:30 AM
There was a surprise waiting for us at the very first corner that set the trend for the entire trek. There was some village function, most probably an animal sacrifice happening in one of the farms. All the villagers were lined up and one of the guys was dressed up in a traditional tribal costume brandishing a HUGE sword. We kept a safe distance because the entire scene appeared very gory and did not want to really upset or disturb the locals.

I did my best to get a good photo of the guy with the sword, but I really didn't fancy taking a chance being chased around with heavy trekking gear on my back. So I had to be content to view the spectacle from a distance.

After a trek of around 500 mtrs we hit a dirty dirt track. The dirt was making the trek very difficult and we hardly managed any speed. My new pair of Reeboks ruined in a matter of few meters!! Riding definitely is better.

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, the incline started getting worse and had us panting for breath. Still another 5 Kms to go on this track and we had hardly covered 1 Km. I was cursing myself; I am better off with bikes, I told myself.

The dirt tracks, getting worse
I was supposed to be one of the trek leaders and I was myself lacking in motivation; but then I put up a brave face. Seeing the rest of the gang speeding on the way up, I got some motivation and pushed myself harder. We climbed steadily, taking a couple of breaks for breakfast and hit the railway track. By then the group had split into two, one that was heading ahead and our group at the rear. We maintained communication between the two groups using walkie-talkies and boy, were they a great help!

At around 11:30AM we hit the track, so we had taken roughly 4 hours to cross this dirt track with 30 mins for breakfast.

Again another curious sight was awaiting us on the track; we saw trucks running on the railway track! Yes, trucks with modified wheels that ran on railway tracks. They were being used for moving the construction items along the railway track.

A walk of some 100 mtrs leads us to the first tunnel, and I had heard some sordid stories about tunnels being infested with bats. Thinking that discretion is the better part of valor, I started suggested that the group cross the tunnel and I'll bring up the rear. So I was the last one after Freya to enter the tunnel. The strategy seemed to work and by the time I entered the tunnel the bats were pretty much used to the new guests and were actually quite receptive.

This was the first tunnel that we came across, tunnel number 27 and its length was less than 150 Mtrs. Around ten more to go, the longest being more than 500 mtrs and pitch dark

Once we crossed the tunnel we hit the first bridge and it was really an awe-inspiring sight. With the gorges on both sides, a gap of a foot and half between the pliers, it definitely looked risky to cross.

Each one of us walked gingerly across the first bridge, while people at both sides of the bridge clicked snaps. But this was only the first one and there were about 20 more bridges to cross :).

The trek along the tracks
12th March, 2005 11:30 AM
So finally the railway trek had well and truly begun. But the tracks were nowhere as desolate as we had been told to believe, it was full of workers from all over India working on re-laying tracks. The people around were all waiving at us and insisting that we take a picture or two of them and we happily obliged. There were kids running around us posing for snaps and demanding biscuits.

The best part for me was to see workers standing on cliffs, with their machines breaking rocks and at the same time waving to us.

The terrain was like this for a few kilometers till we entered some of the more lush green parts, with trees and waterfalls all around us. After a couple of hours our legs were really tired and we needed to break for lunch. My walkie-talkie came to the rescue again; I was able to touch base with the gang in front and ask them choose a good place for lunch. They couldn't have chosen a better place for lunch - under soothing waterfalls. By the time we reached the waterfalls, we could see half of the gang enjoying a bath in the cool waters.

Had lunch around 2:00 PM. What a place to have Lunch! After being fully recharged we headed along the tracks for the final journey to Yedakumari station. On the way I could see Freya looking back at one of the hills consistently and later we could see smoke coming out of the hills. The hills were on fire and the forest fire was spreading! We were really far away from the hills to be in harms way, but we were definitely in a spot.

The Fall
All along we had encountered some 20 bridges and some 10 tunnels. I was feeling really good that the trek had gone without any incidents. There was this final bridge that we had to cross over before reaching Yedakumari, with the station in sight and half the group already there the people at the back picked up pace. I was at the end, a sweep you might say, just then I saw one of my buddies (Kaushik) ahead of me put a wrong step and fall in between the pliers!! It was his backpack that saved him from falling down, the backpack stopped the fall and he was left hanging between the pliers. Quickly I ran over the bridge to his rescue. Funnily enough nobody was really upset or scared rather everybody ended up cracking jokes after making sure Kaushik was okay.

Camping Site
12th March 2005, 5:00 PM
Finally all of us reached the camp site, which is Yedakumari station at 5:00 PM, well ahead of darkness. We had been warned that it is IMPOSSIBLE to trek in the night and that we have to make it to the station before dark. This issue had been playing on my mind all throughout the planning and in the course of the trek. We were really glad that we hit the station in good time with enough time to spare.

The station was getting a face-lift with workers' families staying close by. We met up with a couple of trekking groups from Bangalore, who were also doing the same route, albeit in the opposite direction. The workers at the station helped us a lot with boiling water and also some "Sambar Rice" for dinner. The day long trek and hunger made it one of the best dinners I've had in a long time, with ready to eat MTR Mixed Vegetable Curries and home made Rotis courtesy Freya’s mom. After we finished our dinner, we were admiring the sky and saw the distant forest on fire. We could see the flames jumping out from behind one of the hills and what a sight it was in the darkness!

The trek back to 250 Km Milestone
March 13th, 11:00 AM
We had a relatively relaxed morning the next day with roughly a 2 hour climb down the hills to hit the highway. We had asked our bus driver to wait at a spot, at the 250 Kms milestone from Bangalore. We started the trek back from the station at around 11:00 AM. It was again a treacherous climb down the hill towards the highway. On the way we hit a couple of very beautiful streams.

All in all, it was a beautiful ending to an excellent trek. Had lunch in Sakleshpura and reached Bangalore by 9:30 PM. Total distance covered - around 18 Kms.

Bus route :
Bangalore --> Hasan --> Saklespura --> Gundiya (Our trek started here)
Trek Route: Gundiya --> Yedakumeri station --> 250 KM Bangalore Milestone
Route Back: Sakleshpura --> Hasan --> Bangalore

Venkatesh Rangarajan

   
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