Tuesday, September 29, 2009
On Sunday, I went for my first trek ever.
After a lot of dithering and re-checking the BNHS (Bombay Natural History Society) website if the trek had been canceled.
Silonda. In the national park. Right outside Mumbai.
The site described the trail as a pleasant, easy. That’s true- in parts.
A restricted trail. In away-from-public areas that still remain a forest.
Lush. Dense. In the areas where the cheetah and panthers live.
A dry deciduous forest. Not exactly a walk in the park.
I went alone. To find close to 60 people waiting at the forest gates.:)
Heartfelt gratitude to expert guides from BNHS – Sanil Nair, Parth Sanghvi, Vishal Patil.
You take the tar road to Kanheri and then you take a dirt track that meanders through waist high grass.
You listen to the annoyed, high pitched “ok OK!” of a distant golden oriole with a wide grin.
So many not-to-be-forgotten moments.
The sunlight filtering in through the trees, like a golden shower on the procession.
The wooly elephant creeper- through half shut eyes, the outline does look like an elephant…
The ghost tree, with bark peeling like an old brown paper cover, how must it be looking on a full moon night, all aglow, silver leaves dancing in the breeze…
So many flowers- sensitive Cynthia, lea, wild moong, cat’s ears, wild ginger spiral, wild bhindi, balsam, pincushion, wild glory lily. Even the once in 7 years bloom- the karvy.
So many trees. Accacia. Impale tree, Palash.
Bamboo groves- all dried up.
The pagoda nest with black ants. The signature spider- a huge golden female and a tiny orange male that gets eaten up by the female. Even a wine viper.Sundry caterpillars and grasshoppers.
Walking through a waist high carpet of golden flowers- wild moong.
Stopping to hear and take to heart the deep chik chik of the forest.
All is easy till you reach the streams. The first stream is a surprise- you perch carefully on the rocks, try to stay dry, and marvel at the stream.
The going gets tougher at the second stream. You balance carefully, walking, splashing in the stream-bed, watching every next step, judging if that’s moss on the rocks, or whether the sand underfoot will hold.
Even if you’ve never climbed rocks and boulders before, and I certainly hadn’t.- you clamber from rock to rock, glad of a firm footing. You slip and fall some, glad of adipose to take the fall.
You crawl under a boulder, balancing on a dried tree wedged there-praying to your personal God, making bargains, desperate for a foothold on the other side…
You learn about your limits- when the entire world moves quickly from 4 color bright afternoon to sepia to almost black in quick succession. When your heart thuds hardest it ever has, and the layer of sweat on your forehead keeps reappearing no matter how often you wipe it.
You rest at the lower fall, not a hundred meters from the source point at the summit.
Then you trudge back, zombie style, holding on to rocks, creepers, anything for support, stumbling, faltering some.
You emerge from the forest gates, feeling rich.
A new year begins.