Karkai cha Dongar was an adventurous trek we did in the peak Summers. It was a trek of realizations.It firstly made us realize that Sahyadris could show us CHLLING NIGHTS even in the month of May. It also made me discover that the my sleeping bag needs an urgent replacement.
This was my second attempt to climb Karkai. Before this, I had tried climbing Karkai from the Kothala Side, but was able to climb only upto the Kothala Bhairav. Owing to its size, it was a good idea to trek it up only in the dry( visible) season.
Me, Sada and Kaustubh drove till the base village( Kolhewadi ). From some of the sources, we came to know that there is no water atop and that there is also no shelter. We were initially going to carry a tent so that our shelter issue could be addressed. however, I stressed on the point that it was more important to carry water than a tent, and that whatever effort we take to carry a tent could be effectively utilized to carry additional bottles of water. Finally, each one of us carried about 7 Litres of water.
An old villager was given a role of our guide. Probably he was amongst the only few who have visited the top of this huge mountain. A small well near the village was the last big water source we came across. The entire trek is divided in stages with a platue at each level. To my surprise, there was a fairly visible track which we used most of the times. It vanished in between and we simply had to scramble through the scree. This cycle kept on repeating. The track was made by the cattle which at times came up grazing.
After a trek of 3 hours, we reached the top. The top is a solid rock platform and was widely spread across the viscinity. Our guide left us and we had a short nap after being worn out in the heat of mid summer. As usual, after spending some time in photography, we started thinking about food. By then, it was almost sunset, and the heat had reduces. Slowly a breeze started occupying the empty space. Within no time, the breeze turned into a strong wind and we realized that it would be very difficult to burn fire for cooking. The rock platform was so flat that there was nothing we could have made a barrier of. And yes, obviously due to the hard rock surface, there were no trees. Thr wind went on getting stronger and stronger, thus getting the atmosphere colder and colder.
We managed to create a barrier for our fire by using several small rocks which we piled up one above the other thus creating a small wall. After fighting with the match box, hay and the smoke we finally cooked maggi and butter toast. Strong wind.. Cold atmosphere and the hot maggi was a bliss..
All the time we were feeling like nothing was more taller than us. We could see small lights sparkling like clusters of stars, whih were actually the far off villages. No human sounds, no mobile phones, but only the wind roaring was an experience within itself.
We finally decided to give it a day and bid good night to the wind. However, this was not to happen so easily. The strong winds were entering my sleeping bag from all sides. The temperature had dropped down tio chill everything around. The hard rock had by then turned colder. Felt like my rough looking sleeping bag was a mere "odhani". Although I did not have a thermometer, the temperature could have easily been about 10-15'C.
The night went in moving from one shoulder to other side. And none of us were able to sleep well. Sometime in the morning at around 5 am, the wind stopped and all of us went fast asleep without knowing. Later, when the sun went high up in the air, we woke up and the first victim of our abuse were our sleeping bags.
After a small breakfast, we started back, and comfortably reached within 2.5 hours. Again, the scorching heat started reminding us that we were out of our karkai cold dream and now its time to drive back to the even more humid mumbai.
Mumbai- kalyan- murbad- malshej- khubi fata- khireshwar- kolhewadi(about 2.5 hours from thane in the morning time). No water atop. A peak seen in the right is called Niroli, but we didnt go there.
Ameya Gokhale, Kaustubh Naik, (Late) Sadasivan Sekar.
Note: Guide is Mandatory.
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