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The Railway Track Trek

By Anamika Mukherjee

Hitchhiking, stream-crossing, campfiring, backpacking, and walking walking walking... what a way to spend a weekend!

Our trek was planned to start at Subramanya and go up to Yedakumeri the first day, and then on to Sakleshpur the next, if we all felt up to it. The trail follows a disused railway path in the Western Ghats. Yedakumeri is said to be inaccessible by road; getting to a road would involve a jungle walk of 8 km. This sounded like fun.

We took a bus from Bangalore, and stumbled off it drowsily at 4.30 am in the middle of the highway. It was dark, and it was Gundiya, or so we were informed. Enquiries revealed that we should try to flag down a passing vehicle of any kind that would take us 6 km down the side road where the road passed under a bridge. There we could start our trek, we were told.

None of the passing vehicles was willing to be flagged down though, so it was well over an hour later that the six of us were poured into an eight-seater jeep which was already overflowing with nine adults plus child plus driver. Our backpacks were strapped onto the luggage rack on the roof, and Amit, AP and Ramesh stood on the footboard at the back and hung on for dear life, until the driver decided that if things continued that way one of them was sure to fall off. So Amit was relocated to a 6-inch space in the front seat, whence he managed to rescue a falling-off backpack a short while later. Somehow, someone managed to spot the railway over bridge as we passed it, and raised an alarm, so that we soon found all six of us and six backpacks deposited by the side of the road, in the lightening dawn.

We laboured up the steep embankment while it was still almost dark, and started walking at 6.30 a m, with the first light of day and a cool breeze awakening us. We weren't sure that we were on the right track (literally!) or that we were going in the right direction, but we marched on undeterred. Eventually we met people who told us that we were headed in the right direction (which was reassuring), but that we had started some 10 km upstream of the point we had intended (which wasn't). This meant that instead of a mere 18 km, we would now have to walk 28 km to reach our haven for the night, the disused station at Yedakumeri. There is some conversion work in progress along this railway line, so occasionally we met workers who would guide us with conflicting directions and guesstimates. Without their somewhat confusing help I wonder how we would ever have gotten on to the last leg of our trek, the jungle path that would leave the railway line and head back towards civilization and a motorable highway.

That day we trekked till 4.30, with numerous breaks spent taking pictures and eating food. At 4.30, after roughly 19 km, we stopped because it was a nice spot, with running water nearby, and we didn't think we could do the remaining 7-8 km to Yedakumeri by dusk. We were all tired, so we collapsed right there and then, and later we gathered wood for a campfire and spread out our sleeping mats for dinner. We had carried lots of bread, jam, boiled eggs, mashed potatoes, parathas, namkeen mixture, biscuits, chocolates, oranges, bananas, and tins of baked beans (we even remembered to pack a can opener), so we had enough food. The perishables we knocked off at breakfast and lunch, so we were left with only the jam and beans for dinner. Not a very exciting meal, but anything tastes good if there is a blazing campfire in front of you (which there was) and about a million stars twinkling above your head (which also there were). We played cards (which also we had carried, because we were a very well-organised group, we even had mosquito repellant, which we didn't need as it happened) and told silly jokes and then we all fell asleep very cosily in our sleeping bags around 10.30 (except Amit who tended the fire till 2 a m).

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Sakleshpur on the Map

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Copyright 2008 Amit and Anamika Mukherjee. All rights reserved.