In tandem with Nature: Trekking at Brahmagiri

Mind-blowing! That's all it felt while standing at 5276 feet. A beautiful trek through the rain clouds that occasionally descend, obscuring the view and moistening the soil and mind. Starting from Thirunelli in Mananthavady, the trek ends at the highest hill that shares a border with the state of Karnataka. The top is essentially a good level space. After that starts downwards the forest area of Karnataka. Around 20 of us were there on our first trip to Brahmagiri as part of a new trekking community. Met most of them that morning only. We gradually started our walk towards the hill. The walk is on a dirt road prepared to drive a jeep through the dense forest.

A journey through beautiful waterways, streams, trees, flowers, birds, butterflies, and a special world. The guide had mentioned that there were tigers and elephants in the forest. So all of us were extremely cautious. The first 4 km walk through the forest will take you to the Forest Watch Tower. Our first break was almost right there. In the meantime, all of us got to know each other. This was a new experience for many on the team. The view tower is about 25 meters high and the views from the top are indescribable. The hill looked like a beautiful man lying down, the infrequent snow-covered view, the Thirunelli temple in the distance, and the occasional dreamy setting.

Thus rests the mountains, the snow-capped peaks, and the picturesque Brahmagiri. It is safe for 5 people to climb the tower at a time. As he walked upwards, Rajesh, who had just come from Thiruvananthapuram for this trek, felt his socks getting wet. When the sock was loosened, the blood started flowing like water coming out of a pipe. This was the first time we are seeing so much blood oozing from a centipede’s sting. Soon Rajesh came down and sat in the building of the forest. Our leader, Dr. Mohammad Aslam immediately cleaned his legs, gave first aid, and bandaged the wound. It seems poor Rajesh was attacked by a group of centipedes. Anyway about an hour later we, including Rajesh, started our climb upwards.

The next 3km walk was strenuous. However, you can take a break and relax in a few places. Perhaps the greatest relief in the meadows was the fact that it was centipede free. They can only give us blood, sweat, and pain.

Due to the rain clouds, one gets only a sporadic view of the surrounding areas. We were surrounded by beautiful wind, rain, and cold. We were shivering after a while. After spending an hour there we started our trek down. It's a little difficult to sit at the top every day. If the weather is good, you can see the animals grazing in the meadows.

Those are just possibilities. Trekking is also a journey in search of possibilities. It is the experience of grazing the soil, meadows, rivers, mountains, and snow. When we say Brahmagiri, we can also experience the bliss of spirituality. There is something magical and serene about slowly climbing a hill and viewing the world from there. Because it is not possible to run towards summits. It is better to walk slowly instead. It is good to try and savour that, the state of slowly calming down. Every journey should be enough to calm us down.

The descent was a little difficult. As it was raining, the soil began to slip. A few of us were slipping and falling. When we reached the bottom, the guide said, "Everyone should walk together quietly." And then he said a while ago a tiger had crossed the road. That really stunned us into silence. Having said that we were still eager to see the tiger.

On our way back we saw the tiger's footprints. Anyway, we didn’t waste much time reaching the base camp. When the trek started at 8.40 am and ended at 4.30 am, the only question for everyone was about the next trek. We were eager to plan our next expedition. Clearly, a few centipedes and tiger footprints hadn’t diminished our enthusiasm. We were more thirsty for more such adventures. This was such an unforgettable experience.

Trekking tips for first-timers
To get initiated into trekking begin with day hikes, returning to your starting point in the evening. Move on to a multi-day trek which is relatively easy, in order to get to know your ability and aptitude. You can venture into the mountains with an experienced trekker, join an adventure club, or go with a reputed adventure travel company. The first and the most important step in your first trekking journey is to choose an easy destination. Start exploring the easier and smaller trails first before heading to the difficult ones. Treks that are able to be completed in a day or a couple of hours are the best ones to go for. You wouldn’t have to pack too much, and you will not get easily tired on these trails. Also, make sure you don’t venture out as a novice during the monsoons. These mountain paths can get really slippery. Here are some tips before taking the plunge.
» Always remember never to hike alone. This is not an adventure sport where you will have someone to guide you. So, don't feel too brave as you might need someone to help you in a time of crisis.
» Never randomly leave for any trip or destination without informing your close ones and family of all the itinerary details. Include details like where are you going, who is accompanying you, when you are expected to be back, your accommodation details, and the transportation details. You never know when a situation of emergency can arrive, so it is best to be prepared.
»If you’re going on a high-altitude trek, don’t think of going without a rain cover for your backpack. You never know when it rains or snows and the things inside your backpack always need protection.
» Through changing times, there are some trekking trails that become permanent. Follow them. It’s better than losing your way. Else, leave behind a trail, you could make markings on a tree, but this isn’t always reliable, as the rains could wash away the chalk. Choose your equipment and trail wisely!
» Remember that you are the visitor and not the wild animals who call that forest their home. So, make sure you don’t stand out too much or even cause trouble to the flora and fauna there. Most importantly, you shouldn’t mark your territory with waste such as plastic bottles and empty food wrappers! Wear appropriate clothing and be a responsible trekker.
» Properly fitting footwear with good cushioning and grip is essential for avoiding issues like rolling an ankle due to improper support. It will also help you prevent one of the most painful hiking hindrances: blisters. If you don’t know where to start, try consulting an expert at an outdoor supplies store.
» Also, avoid cotton socks. They retain moisture from sweaty feet, causing the skin to blister more easily. Instead, opt for hiking socks made from materials like wool or synthetics made to wick away moisture and ease friction.
» Keep your backpack as light as possible. Water and food should be the heaviest items you pack.
» Carrying a water bottle is a must. When you are trekking, your body dehydrates but most times due to the cold or cool temperature, you do not realize you are sweating. So, do keep on sipping on water to keep your body hydrated.
» Pack sunscreen, sunblocks, and lip balms. These can be forgotten easily as there are so many other things to worry about while going on a trek. Do pack sunscreen to protect yourself from the UV rays and while trekking and traveling.
» Avoid wearing scented products like perfumes, fragrant wipes, strong-smelling lotion, or perfume oil. The smell of these products attracts animals, insects, and tiny bugs. They can easily trace you and attack you if you wear these scented products. It is advisable to carry fragrance-free toiletries for trekking.
» Avoid canned food items that are heavy and take a lot of space in your travel backpack. Carry high protein bars, biscuits, few snacks, instant tea/coffee, Maggi, instant food (like pre-cooked MTR), etc. This will be easy to make and taste good as well.
» Make sure that you carry enough water to keep yourself hydrated when you are on the trip. Most of the travel backpacks have compartments for keeping water bottles so that you need not carry them by yourself.

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