Tuesday, April 9, 2013

    The night of July 22nd, 2002, is one that I will never forget. Preparing for a night-trek, I spent the whole day trying to get as much sleep as I could. This wonderful overnight trek from Katraj to Sinhagad was organized by Pune based 'Saahas.com'. It started off with around 35 of us reporting at the Swargate bus stop at 8:30pm - ready with our raincoats, water bottles, torches, and of course, full tummies!
    After a delay of 45 minutes, the bus rattled off to the Katraj tunnel from where our trek finally started at 10:30pm. We geared up our energies and started off.
     It was a pre-full moon night. The brilliant moon above us and the westward winds around were our constant companions - encouraging and soothing us all the way. The path looked well-trodden by men and cattle alike. Around 20 hills, making up 18 kilometers had to be covered  by us in one night. The first path saw us in a state of manifold battle - physical, psychological, and 'nocturnal' as well! We covered this part, occasionally pausing for a sip of water or a peppermint, taking off after intermittent breaks. The moonlight, exuding and aura of yellow enlightenment, was a constant source of illumination. Torches came out only after 3:30am, when the curtain of monsoon clouds came down on us.
     There were frequent encounters with fireflies, which appeared like stars strayed from their celestial path. On the one hand, were these natural flickers, and on the other, were the lights illuminating Pune from a distance, giving the city a neat and trim look. So are the ways of the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) - burn lights throughout the night and bless us with power-cuts in the peak of summer!
     As it darkened, the path started becoming confusing. As if on cue, the bright arrows, perhaps marked by some other groups, shone and directed us to our destination. Towards the last 3-4 comparatively difficult hills, trickles of sweat were drenching us completely. Lungs began to heave and lactic acid started building up in our legs. Thanks to the rains, making the path more slippery; we literally presented a "slide" show! Clouds stepped down, closing the picture in front of us and making our torches futile. After a few halts, the canvas the front of us filled up.
     We continued our stride. Time was passing, with each moment seeming too long, too tiring. Slowly darkness started bidding us goodbye, giving way to the first rays of a perfectly bright monsoon morning. Chirping birds and dripping dewdrops made a gorgeous morning scene.
    At 6:30 am, we hit the road, midway to the top of Sinhagad. The downhill climb through the lush green valley took us to the foot of the fort. Hot refreshing tea and Parle-G biscuits at a dhaba was the need of the time. After our cuppa chai, we boarded the bus back to Pune.
     The whole of 23rd July was also spent in trying to catch up on my "zzzzzzzzzzzz"s. After all, an overnight trek has to be balanced by a whole day of warm baths and long snoozes in bed!

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