Chithran arrived at Camp Woody a day before the camping. Usually, the ops team doesn't go directly to the camp for the operations. But when a larger group comes, someone from the ops team has to be there at the camp. Chithran ensured things are perfect and intact before the team arrives. Next day morning, he got the call from Victor, saying they are at Munnar. Still, Chithran has got plenty of time. They will be doing some sightseeing at Munnar before heading to Suryanelli. By 3.30pm, the team bus reached Suryanelli. Chithran was there to welcome them, with his captivating warm smile.
We were a group of six, four of my classmates and one of my childhood friends. Our trip started on the 9th of July. Everyone, except me, boarded the Alleppey Express in Chennai Central, and I joined them in Arakkonam for reasons best known to us alone! We reached Ernakulam the next day and departed to Munnar by bus the very same day. From Munnar we hired a jeep to reach Suryanelli. The jeep driver helped us in settling into rooms and telling us more about the upcoming trek. The night passed.
Then we reached the camping site by late evening, erected tents and stayed inside them for a night, and it truly felt like the longest night of our lives! I asked my friend what time of the night it was hoping that it had already become 12a.m., but it was only 9:30p.m.!Heavy rains and fierce winds lashed at our tents all night and after a point our tent lost the battle with the weather and started dripping with water! The situation had turned from worse to pathetic!To add on to the misery, we had a few uninvited guests that night-the creepy Leeches! They were found relishing their dinner of human blood from Nithun and Kishore!
The next morning, 4 of us went for a walk through the tea estates near our room (Mohamed Irfan and Nithun were sleeping at the room), as the trek was scheduled to start only by 11 a.m. The weather was extremely cold and it was slightly drizzling.
It was evening by the time we reached our lovely home stay nestled in the valley of Suryanelli Hills, 18 kms from Munnar.. We checked in and after a rejuvenating cup of tea headed to the Anayirangal Dam. As soon as we took the turn into the road that led to the dam we were stopped by some forest rangers and asked to head back. The reason being some 6-8 wild elephants that were spotted on the opposite side of the road. We clicked them from a far before heading back with mixed feelings -- happy to see the wild elephants but disappointed that we were unable to go to the dam. However we managed to enjoy its scenic beauty from the top.