Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Karnala Trek

Had a nice time on Sunday. Went for a trek to the Karnala Bird Sanctuary. Left home at 4.45 A.M. Woke up a rickshaw driver to take me to Borivali Stn.

Bought an extension ticket. Caught the 5.02 slow to Dadar. Reached Dadar at around 5.45. Crossed over to Dadar Central and caught a train to Kurla 15 mins later. Bought a ticket at Kurla and caught a Harbour Line train to Panvel. Reached Panvel Stn at 7.15. Walked to the ST bus depo, found a driver who understood where I wanted to go, and caught a bus to Karnala at 7.45.

Reached the main gates of the sanctuary at 8.00. The rest of the group had only just arrived and were waiting for breakfast to arrive at an education office across the road from the Sanctuary. Saw some interesting tree formations here.

Started off on the trek at 9.30. Paid the entrance fees of Rs 20 at the main gate. The tourist area of the Karnala Bird Sanctuary is pleasant enough. There’s even a waterfall close to the entrance for enjoyment, but it’s crowded. We passed the tourist area, saw a few caged birds, and trekked up into the hills, following a dirt path, which proved extremely strenuous. Our goal was to get to the base of the Karnala pinnacle, which houses the ruins of a fort.

We were constantly breaking to catch our breath, all 25 plus of us. The route was steep, and required the use of both hands to reach out and grab whatever roots, branches and rocks we could get for support as we clambered up the rocky and at times muddy path. I can describe this route best as a shoe breaker; it was littered with the soles that had come off the shoes of people who trekked this way.

After a lot of clambering upwards, we came to a little clearing, a patch of land that served as an intersection of trails and we paused to take in the scenery. We realised that we were really high up, that we were entering the upper realm of the hill, about to cross the point above which a mountain is constantly covered in mist. We continued onwards at a slightly slower pace.

The trail did slope upwards but not as frequently. The trail then flattened out and as we left the forest behind, we could barely make out the pinnacle in front of us, and the short climb that would lead us to its base.

This part proved to be the most dangerous. The climb to the fort or pinnacle base was steep, required a lot of stretching to get from outcrop to outcrop, and was a challenge with what I felt sure were gale force winds intent on blowing us off the mountain. We did manage to crawl to the top at last and take a breather before exploring the ruins that sheltered us from the winds. It wasn’t possible to take a lot of pics though with all the mist and moisture being blown around. I was lucky my camera didn’t get spoiled taking the pics I did.

Our descent was a lot easier, mine at least. My Woodland’s prevented me from slipping and I got some good pics of a waterfall and a large white crab on my way down the hill.

The trek being over, I took an ST bus from the highway outside the Sanctuary to Panvel Stn, caught a train to C.S.T but got off at Kurla, took a bus to Santa Cruz Stn, a train to Borivli, and a bus home.


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