What, according to you, is the best outdoor trip or time you ever spent? I know the variety of answers like an expensive foreign tour or dinner or lunch at high-end Hotels or partying with friends etc. Of course the list will go on and on but for me the the best outdoor time is that in which you totally forget that there exists something called as Smartphone and Cameras which otherwise keep you constantly engaging irrespective of the surroundings. I'm sure many of you have definitely experienced that we get out to have a break or to get close to the nature and there is someone who still continuously chatting on WhatsApp, posting statuses on Facebook, continuously clicking unnecessary photos and selfies and keep talking over the phone. Such things, by default, keeps you away from the actual closeness that you could have enjoyed with nature. When it comes to New Year celebration many of my friends planned dinners and lunches and parties, but some of us have thought why not start the new year with some adventures, challenges and closeness to nature? What it would be like to witness the first sunrise of new year before all of your 'Party-Friends' and that too from the point which is highest from all of them, who will be in hangover of last night. Then the name comes 'Kalsubai peak' – the Mount Everest of Maharashtra!
And then we 5-6 friends decided to conquer the highest peak of Maharashtra- Kalsubai peak. Kalsubai situated in Akole taluka of Ahmednagar district. Kalsubai crest situated at an elevation of 5400 ft. i.e. 1646 meters.
It was an early morning, my friends came from Pune by early Deccan Queen and I joined them at Kalyan station from where we caught 'Kasara-Fast Local'. It took around 1.5 hr to reach Kasara station. Then luckily we got a shared jeep to the village 'Bari'. 'Bari' is a small village situated at the base of Kalsubai from where the actual trek started. We reached Bari at around 11:30 in the morning. We had light snacks and without wasting much time we started heading towards Kalsubai. It's about 9-10 km to reach the foot of Kalsubai. The people were nice to travellers and were very helpful. Since this is one of the toughest and hardest trek in Maharashtra, only serious trekkers and wild-life enthusiast will be seen there. There is also a temple of local deity Goddess 'Kalsubai' at the small flat surface on the peak from which the mountain range known as Kalsubai. Though some of us were not the first time trekkers, we thought it would be little harder for them to have their first trek in life at Kalsubai. But eventually as we covered some height, everyone of us realised it is definitely going to be a tough one for all of us.
We had planned to stay at night over the peak hence we were carrying the tent bags, mats and cooking material with us along with our individual's rucksack on our back. This was slowing down our speed and also exhausting us. We started our trek at around 1:30 in the afternoon. Though the Sun was at it's high, we didn't feel much of the heat due to the calm and light-cold weather. After 1 hour of trek, we started feeling tired, our muscles started paining. It took some time to get your body warmed and synchronize with your breaths. Once your body & breath stabilizes then you feel less pain.
We were, somehow, managing to carry the heavy bags and marching towards the peak. At some stages there are iron railings with the rods and small metal strips to go from one rock to another. This was the most difficult part of trek for us because of the weight with us in one hand. At a point, there was a steep climb over the railings. We started to climb one by one with pace matching to one another, there were no other group before us and after us. And exactly at this point a whole group of around 20-25 monkeys gathered around us and started attacking on the bags and sacks from all the sides, they were trying to snatch our bags. We were little frightened because we can't afford to loose anything from our luggage. We took some wooden sticks and started beating the metal railing to get them away from us. And we can't even stop at that point, so we're maintaining our pace, carrying the load with us and simultaneously watching the gangs of Monkeys. That was really a goosebumping experience for all of us.
We reach around 7:30 at the evening. It took us 5 hours to reach at the peak. It was dark night already. We found an infiltration well at the peak. After seeing the clear, starry sky and drinking sweet water collected directly from the internal seep of the well, all our tiredness and fatigue was gone and we refreshed again to set our tent and to cook the dinner. Some of us started setting the tent, some went to collect water and remaining went to collect the firewood for chulhas. There were couple of stalls of the villagers, we took a plate of Bhajis and then made 2 chulhas. Meanwhile tent was set up and we cooked Biryani Rice and Barbeque. I can say that the taste was far better than any expensive hotel dish we ever had. After dinner we enjoyed the Sky-watching time. It was long back to see such dense-starry night sky. Then after cooking, we sat around a campfire swapping stories and jokes and so on. By then the temperature was decreased to less than 10º C, though we did not felt so much of cold.
Absolute silence, warmness of campfire, goosebumping cold breeze and along with this long cosy conversations with your best friends...this is 'inconceivable'. You must have to 'Live' such moments by yourself to understand the grace of these.
Next day we woke up at early dawn to witness the new year's sunrise. In the previous night many other trekkers were arrived at the peak. We made coffee and with it's sips we were watching the colorful horizon, waiting for the Sunrise. After memorable sunrise we started wrapping our tent and started coming down. Descending was easier for us since we didn't have too much of luggage with us. After light breakfast at around 10:30 in the morning we started walking down and reached around 2:00 in the afternoon.
In the whole trip of 2 days we all were completely forgot our smartphone (though the battery was charged). We even barely touched the DSLR, no one wanted to disturb the moments. It was just to be in the moment and to live the moment. I think living in the moment is what you need to pay attention to and such small but extraordinary trips helps you to do that. These opportunities takes you closer to 'yourself' to understand better. These feelings and such experiences lift you above our daily tiny little problems of which we often make issue.
Therefore take the nature's challenges, go into the wild, push your limits, don't over-think about the precise plans, nature is unpredicted and there is a beauty lies in the uncertainty. Let yourself to experience the feeling of 'Aaj mai upar, aasman niche..!'