In a recent corporate outdoor day event, I run into a group from another team which appears to be thoughtfully sizing up a small hillock in the vicinity. I exchange pleasantries with them and quickly realize trekking is in the agenda, but before I could plan for a quiet escape, the group starts marching towards the hill and they drag me along.
I find company in one guy who tells he practices yoga every day and that he can hold his breath for more than three minutes. I, for my part, brag about my past arduous trekking expeditions. Like this – blowing our own trumpets – we head off the trail making up the tail end of the marching party.
At this point, little do I know that this trek is going to turn out to be an ordeal and push me to the very brink.
It doesn’t take too long for things to go wrong. It’s 12 in the noon and it’s a very hot day – upwards of 42 degree Celsius. Initial phase of the trail is well shaded by trees but at some point what remains of them are only their burnt stumps.
Photo from the original location. All photos are from the original location and original event
Three forest guards find shelter under a leaf-less tree
The searing heat is unbearable. Breathing expert is the first one to go out of breath. His eyes seeing stars in broad day light, he sits down. “I don’t care what you think, I’m not going to continue” he declares and tries to hide in the scant shadow of a thin tree.
I don’t enjoy walking in the sun either but I trudge on. The belting sun makes me sweat profusely from head to toe and soon water stock runs out. I feel severely dehydrated and my brain begins to lose cohesion. I can barely stand on my feet and my tongue becomes so dry that it gets stuck to the roof of the mouth.
Somehow I manage to reach the top. With the poise of a drunkard, my left leg going rightwards, and the right towards leftwards, I dance my way to the shade of a watch-tower and throw myself to the ground.
Relief, at last. I’m semi-conscious but at least I’m alive. I just made it.
Watch-tower (marked in red) seen from the bottom of the trail
Heaven, Finally. Watch-Tower Up-close. (I’m not here in this photo)
Here, sitting under the watch-tower and feeling the gentle breeze caressing my face, I revise my personal definition of heaven. Heaven is not a place in Goa, or Oliver’s Pub in Whitefield. It is a place that offers you immediate relief when you are really on the edge. It can even be your toilet.
River Cauvery, the biggest in South India, flowing below