A gang of seven trekkers on top of a hill at the end of a lost trail. All sense of direction was lost due to poor visibilty in the dense cloud cover. The weather was turning from bad to worse with winds blowing upto 20 kmph hitting them hard and aggravating the incessant rain. The aggression of mother nature was not something they ever faced. This was a moment when the missing link was made out of nowhere. There were three stones at this point with BG written on it. With all the options getting closed fast, they left the missing link there and headed down the valley to Dasarahalli and to safety of a lodge in Chickamagalur. But the missing link was lying there, just beside the three stones. It spent the dark and chilly night at that point. That's when we decided that missing link should be found and put to rest once and for all. Hence the story begins.
Plan to trek from Mullayanagiri to Budangiri was made few weeks ago. But it has to be postponed due to few personal reasons of team members. Finally things looked positive on the weekend of 21\22 July. This was my first trek after my engagement with Kiran. Well now you know why it got postponed earlier. We booked tickets well in advance and managed to get front seats. The team was pretty gud with myself, Ankur, Kokil, Rami and Santosh. Unlike other times, the team size increased on the final day with Renjith and Kanaka joining us on D day.
The D-Day arrived and passed pretty fast. I took leave for my house shifting. After that I took my dad for little shopping which was followed by my own trip shopping. Finished the small telecon at 6:30 and headed home to take my backpack. Soon myself, Ankur and Kokil were in auto heading to Majestic. The trips have always brought back some old memories. I remember Ankur, Mudit and me going in an Auto on our first trekking trip to KP last year. Time had passed pretty quickly since then. We reached Majestic and waited for Rami's gang.
The bus journey to Chickmagalur was quite comfortable and we managed to get gud sleep. Chickmagalur takes just 6 hours and we were there by morning 5:30 AM. The bus to Sarpadhari was at 7:30 and hence we checked in a lodge for freshening up. After that we met another gang of trekkers who were attempting Mullayanagiri first time. The bus driver agreed to start early just for us. The whole bus was booked just for us at 600\-. Not a bad deal when time plays an important role. The early morning journey till sarpadhari was pleasant. We found another bus full of trekkers at Sarpadhari. It was surprising to see whole lot of trekkers at this point. I was little disappointed to see such a big janatha for trekking. But fine, Everyone has the right to come to these places hence adjust madi. Anyway things turned up pretty exciting in the later part of the day.
The initial trek was little steep but somehow It didn't tired me out. I had been a regular jogger and hence it might have helped me. The hill was covered in green grass and most of the time we were in cloud cover. The route to Mullayanagiri is quite well marked. There are few rock formations at one point. One has to keep left at this point. After this there will be a small temple under a tree. Keep left here and soon you will reach famous caves. Took some nice inspiring snaps at this point. Mullayangiri top is just few metres from here. We visited the temple and started towards BB giri. The route is from the other side of the temple. We didn't faced much problem in locating the route as there were lot of people heading that side. Few 100 metres from the temple we have to take a left and keep walking on the trail. After an hour and half we reached the main road. The trek till here was quite pleasant. I didn't felt tired. Renjith, Santosh and Kanaka lagged behind for a while. The trek looked simple and beautiful. But we didn't had faintest idea of things to happen ahead.
Once on the road, we can either take a bus to BB giri or climb up the ridge to trek entire distance to BB giri. We had already decided for the latter option. The route through ridge is just opposite to the point where u get down to main road from Mullayangiri. The entire ridge was covered in dense clouds. The trek was little tough\risky as the rocks were wet and slippery. Visibility was very poor. I feel in some ways the clouds helped us as we were not seeing the deep valleys on both sides. This means that we were not much afraid (perhaps). There were few tricky turns among rocks here and there. A misjudged step at these points will see you rolling down the hill at breakneck speeds. No directions were required on the ridge. There is strictly one way to go on the ridge....Just straight ahead.
After hour and a half of such trekking we ended up at the middle of a hill. There was no trail as such but u have to use ur instincts and little sense of direction. I remembered from the snaps that BB giri was little to the right from the point where we were standing. Ideally we were supposed to see a BSNL tower right from Mullayanagiri. This tower is our destination. But in the dense clouds we were not able to see anything jsut few metres ahead of us. Clouds are tiny droplets of water. With the wind which was blowing, these tiny droplets were hitting me hard on the rain coat making a nice music. I was enjoying this all the time. We kept walking and saw a tiny trail after some distance. We took a lunch break at one point. The chapatis and chutney were fast gobbled down. This was follwed with dates from Ankur. I luv dates on the trek.
The trail from here took us to another hill. Due to incessant rains this time of the year the trail simply vanished at this point. We can't find anything here. I am not sure why but we simply took a right turn at this point. We entered into few bushes and were happy to find a small trail there. This trail took us to the middle of the ridge. We walked for a while and ended up at a small shiva temple. There was a small waterfall at this point. We filled our water bottles here. From this temple there was a route which was going down the valley and another going up to the top of the hill. Rami and Kokil scouted a little on the upward going trail but came back with no positive signs. So we retraced our steps where we missed the trail. We knew that we have got lost. We have lost any sense of direction. Cloud cover was more dense and weather started to turn bad. After a little climb up I just shouted for no reasons. Surprisingly I heard someone shouting back. Soon the shouts started getting closer. We felt happy to see another gang heading to BB giri. But unfortunately they were equally lost. We decided to just keep heading straight and cross the hills. No sooner we climbed a small hill, weather turned bad to worse. Winds picked up speed and the rains started downpour. There was not much time left to explore anything. Soon it will get dark and spending a night on top of a hill in a really bad weather was not an option. Panic button was pressed. Before I realized, the other gang started retracing steps back on the ridge. They decided to head back to the road and to the safety. we felt that this was quite risky in these heavy winds. So we decided to take a trail which we found earlier on the way to Siva temple. This trail was going down the valley and would have headed to a flat ground or road. So the long trek down the valley began. The route was quite steep\slippery and risky but there was no looking back. After a long trek down the hill, We ended up in a estate. In spite of several requests we didn't got any place to spend the night (due to naxals scare). We walked another 5 km to Dasarahalli to catch a bus to Chickmagalur. So the day ended comfortably in a warm and cozy bed of Giri lodge. We didnn't planned for the next day as everyone was tired and no mood to fix the plan. I dearly wished to complete the trek next day. I can't leave the trek unfinished.
So the next day we ventured out to link the missing link. The missing link which was made last day. Only me, kokil, Ankur and Rami dared to venture out again into the terrain where we lost ourselves y'day. To avoid any risks, we decided to go to BB giri and find the point where we got lost last evening. Which means that we shall go to the end point first and track the missing link of y'day. The bus journey was again a pleasant experience. We met a baba who works at the BB giri dargah. He was a nice gentlemen who gave us all the details we needed. He told us that we were quite close y'day and we shud have taken the uphill trail from Siva temple to reach the BSNL tower. We were quite encouraged by this statement. Our chances of finding the missing link were bright now. After we reached BB giri, we had nice cup of T. Soon we were walking towards Manikya dhare. It is a small waterfall 3 km from BB giri. There is a tar road till Manikya dhare. You can take autos\Jeeps to reach this point. We preferred walking on the road. There were beautiful views all around. At one point clouds gave away to nice hill side views. Picture of winding road around these hills was breathtaking. Soon we reached the falls. It was a crowded mess. Though there was lot of Janatha there but it was a nice place to have a bath. There is a cemented bathing area built right underneath the falls. So take your towels and trunks if you plan to visit this place.
From Manikyadhare we were supposed hike towards BSNL tower. There was a small tower just beside Manikyadhare. Kokil and Rami climbed that hill out of excitement and I had to push myself up the hill to get them down. The BSNL towers are quite close to Manikyadhare but they were invisible due to clouds. We got a slight glimpse of the top of the tower for few seconds. That was enough to push us in that direction. We crossed a small stream. We saw a small deer on the hill we were above to climb. It ran away with amazing speed after seeing us. In all my trips I had rarely seen any wildlife and it is gud to see free roaming animals on these hills. I think Bhdara tiger reserve was also close by and it comes on the way between BB giri and Kemmanagundi. We must have climbed another hill before catching a glimpse of the tower again. Kokil found a deer horns. It should be of a big male deer as it was quite heavy and long. We didn't found anyone at the tower. Finished our lunch at this place. It was such a nice experience. Surrounded in the clouds, sitting with friends on top of a hill. The lunch was quite memorable.
Now the daunting task of find the missing link was on us. Deep in my senses I felt that it is going to be close to impossible since the visibility was so poor and there was almost a 180 degree of landscape in front of us. After few steps on a hill in front of us, I realized that Siva temple was on the edge of the cliff and it is not far from the point where we were standing (As told by Baba we met earlier.). This means that we have to go towards the cliff edge to our left. This was enough for us to move towards the left. Soon we reached the edge of the cliff. We also found a trail leading on to few hills. This in addition to confirmation by Rami that Siva temple was right below where we were standing was enough to make us walk on the trail in front of us. The trail was pretty visible in spite of clouds. We crossed few hills. The trail kept vanishing and reappearing at some points. We crossed few rock formations and walked on the plain hill tops. We followed a trail and ended up on a hill. Sometimes we were confused about our position relative to the missing link. The cloud cover didn't allowed us to see much. Ankur was worried about running short of time to get back to BB giri. I convinced him to keep walking for another 15-20 mins and if we didn't find the point then we shall turn back. Finally I recognized a lone tree on the hill. I knew that was the tree which we came across y'day. So the missing link was close by. Soon kokil found the trail which we took last evening. After some time we really found the missing link. The point where we got lost y'day. We completed the trek. We celebrated the moment with cakes. What a feeling it was. The spirit of adventure is something which we tasted that day. Never to lose hope, never to give up and just enjoy the excitement and adventure. It is true, Fear is Fun.
We immediately started back. We didn't wanted to miss the last bus at 5:30 PM from BB giri to Chikmagalur. So we hurried back to tower. Surprisingly it didn't took us long to return. From tower we took the jeep trail to the main road. Here we have to take a left to reach BB giri in half an hour or so. The bus was ready and we boarded it after a cup of T. All our hearts were fulfilled with a sense of accomplishment. The satisfaction of completing the trek. The places we went today were completely different to y'day. All along the trek we didn't found many ppl. Infact during the trek from tower to missing link and back to tower, we didn't encountered a single soul. Four of us were hiking on cloud covered hills, searching for three stones with inscriptions of BB giri. Later I realized what an impossible task it would have been. Something like finding a needle in haystack. But thanks to everyone for not losing patience and hope. We did it. After that it was just returning to Chikmagalur and boarding the bus back to B'lore.
All in all it was a real memorable trek. We got lost for the first time and deep in my heart I enjoyed it. This trek is pretty easy on a clear day but don't attempt the trek on a cloud covered days unless u don't mind getting lost. Even if you get lost it is not that risky as u can safely retrace back ur steps to the road.