Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you are climbing it.By Andy Rooney
Having always felt the same as quoted above, this one trek had me question that. In the month of July of 2016, we did a one-day trek to Kalsubai, the highest mountain peak of Maharashtra. It was my third time trekking with the same bunch of people, my college friends.
We were with a trekking group and were all excited for a memorable trek. It indeed proved to be one hell of a trek but in a completely different sense. In this post, I will be sharing my whole experience of trekking Mt. Kalsubai.
About Mt. Kalsubai, the highest peak of Maharashtra
Kalsubai is a mountain in the Western Ghats, located in the state of Maharashtra in India. Its highest point has an elevation of 1646 meters (5400 feet), making it the highest point of Maharashtra. It also has earned the title ‘Everest of Maharashtra’.
The trek story…
The journey began a night before, we were supposed to gather at a given meeting point in Dadar(E) in Mumbai. We were booked through a trekking group, and they had 100 people under them in two buses. After waiting forever in that over-crowded place, and an overnight bus journey of music and games combined with little power naps we finally reached our destination, the outskirts of Bari village which were our base.
It was around 5:30 am in the morning, we all had torches lit up guiding us in the dark, the weather had a slight chill. Our trek began at around 7:30 am after a breakfast of tea and warm poha (a Maharashtrian dish usually consumed during breakfast).
Passing through farms and plain lands, crossing a small stream or two, we reached the point where our uphill journey was about to begin. There we realized how many people were out there for the same trek on that same fateful rainy day! Much later after the trek, we found out there were around 500 people out there. Can you really believe that! One plans a monsoon trek to enjoy nature away from the madness of the city, and here we were right in the middle of it again.
After crossing the initial hurdles and the first meeting point where there is another temple of the Devi (Goddess) Kalsubai, we realized that amidst these many people, finding our supposed trekking guides was going to be an issue when there were only six of them for a group of hundred people, setting an amazing example of poor planning on their part!
Planned a trek for a hundred plus people and not even care to provide enough guides. Very well done! I remember how furious and exasperated all of us were with these organizers! These outnumbered trekking guides were, of course, difficult to be spotted. Hence, our group of six girls decided to just follow the crowd ahead of us and keep climbing without wasting more time.
The route up is easy to moderate on the level of difficulty. There are stone steps with railings on the outer side on many stages making it easy to go up, the route is quite enjoyable, not something we could do much since we were walking back to back in a sea of people. To get to the top which marks the end of this trek, where the temple of Devi Kalsubai is located one passes through a few levels of metal ladders that have been put up many years ago, which has made this whole trek more moderate than difficult.
While climbing up those metal ladders in the pouring rain, one really can feel the pressure of the high latitude. You really wouldn’t want to look down into those deep gorges! There are four or five of such ladders, one being the final ladder leading to the very top and you must climb down taking the exact same route.
Each time we had to climb a ladder due to the maddening crowd it took us more than twenty minutes of waiting. This whole waiting business made our pre-set time target of the whole trek to go for a toss making us reach down 3-4 hours later our set target. Many had already decided to return down instead of climbing all the way up. By the time we reached the top of Mt. Kalsubai, it was heavily pouring with strong wind currents and thick fog.
Time to climb down back to our base…
Later, climbing all the way down to the base was an equally exhausting task. I remember my knees beginning to wobble slightly after hours of climbing and we had more than half way to go! Two of us four who went up got separated in the crowd. Finally holding and hauling each other down through the thick muddy routes we managed to get almost till the first meeting point.
A trekking guide from a different group came ahead to help us, guiding us both by hands in situations where it was slippery or difficult to walk through. I had already lost one of my shoe’s sole in this whole process. Both of us were relieved when we were down by a stream which we had crossed when we began the trek. Soon enough we realized that this was not the same stream and the realization of having lost our way dawned on us.
The kind young man helped us find our way to our bus mates. We soon found our way back to the village, where the rest of our friends were waiting for us. We changed into fresh clothes, had lunch at around 6:30 pm, and managed to leave by 9:30 pm.
The whole trek was a complete disaster in terms of time management as well as organization. We were late and we had to take cabs to reach our respective homes. It was around 3 am by the time I reached home all beat up and exhausted but grateful to have reached safely.
Every trek has an after effect. Mine lasted for almost 5-6 days, really horrible pain. But this one trek is something I won’t ever forget in my life.
P.s. – All the photos in this post were taken by my group of friends who still managed to take such shots in that rain!
Some advice for the trek
Before planning your trek with big trekking groups make sure of how well planned everything is. Because never would I want to travel with that same trekking group ever again! Also kindly avoid going to treks to such spots where everybody rushes to in the middle of monsoon. Preferably go before or after the monsoon months and never go without any guides!
Do you have any such trekking experience which you’ll never forget? Any funny or weird stories that you would love to share?
[Please Note: This post was previously posted on Mitali’s old Blog “The Eclectic Encounters”. We are reposting this updated version on our main website again.]