Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Jeep Safari, Trekking, and Valley Crossing

It was a very hectic three-day weekend this time, and more adrenaline filled than the last week.
On Saturday, André (from Visapur trek) and I (from this blog) decided to join up and go climbing mock-rocks in Hiranandani Complex, Powai. The route itself was very scenic at some places. We stopped to have our photos taken at Powai Lake. I was awestruck at the beauty of Hiranandani Complex itself when we entered it - broad roads, splendid architecture, only rich people, no slums or homeless people, etc. There was this place called Hakone, where we climbed an artificial rock and went go-karting. The climb itself was very small. There were three levels - easy, medium and hard; we both did the medium one pretty easily (60 bucks each). We met this girl called Tina, who was the 'instructor'. We wanted to try the hard level, for which she said, we can pay her directly and she will 'talk with her manager to get us a discount' We all knew there was no manager and it was going directly into her pockets, still, being Indians, we paid her and did it (André did it, I could not cross three-quarters of it). Next, we went go-karting. It was a small track and I had not ridden any car before, just those hot-wheels kinds. I could say that my first time was on a race-track! My lap timing was 34 seconds (average 34)
I've been a member of Ryze for about 6 months now, but haven't used it. This Friday, I just logged in, went to the list of events and activities to do something over the weekend, and saw that a group called Nature Knights was going on a jeep safari and valley crossing trip to Ratnagiri. I thought maybe I should join and gave Dhyaneshwar, the event organizer, to be included. This was on Sunday, early morning 6 am. The trip started somewhere in Marol and I joined them in Andheri - met a few good people. We went around Mumbai - Bandra, Chembur, Sion, etc and took the highway to Ratnagiri. Early morning was very pleasent. We stopped for breakfast and tea somewhere near Panvel, and the details get hazy from there.
We stopped at Pali, so that we can conquer the fort Sarasgad. Somehow, we had split into two groups, and our group did not have water. The other group had loads of water, but ran out of water by the time they reached the top. The view from above was spectacular. There was some water collected in artificial pools all around the fort. The method of collecting water was very ingenious - they had cut pools into the rock, below a main rock. When it rained, the pools first filled up and then water starts flowing down, the water might hold till the next rains. At that heat, it was the coolest water I washed myself in. Coming down was not so difficult, but treacherous. Still we managed to climbed down, right down to a well. We were so overjoyed by the sight of the well, we threw out cautions to the wind and gulped down buckets of water, supposed to be some kind of poison for city-slickers.
After Sarasgad, we were on our way to Ratnagiri town, another Shivaji-era fort, but near the sea. On the way, we saw a river and stopped our jeeps for a quick dip. A quick dip translated to 45 minutes in real-time. I found out something there - when you want to sink, the water makes you float; but, when you want to float, you sink anyway! We stopped at a roadside restaurant for lunch. As soon as we got into the jeep, I fell asleep and woke up maybe half-way across the ghats. A few hours into the remaining distance, I puked. We reached Ratnagiri late night at around 10.30 pm, where food was waiting for us - very good pulao, and very good aam-ras. That night, after a very long time, I slept in the open air - in the terrace of a temple. This fort was a little different - there was a motorable road which led us directly to the fort, and a good view of the harbour and the sea on three sides.
Next morning, we woke up pretty early and I couldn't wait for the Valley Crossing. We had planned to finish valley crossing, take a dip in the sea, take another dip in a river, and head back to Mumbai by evening. But plans did not go through as planned. There were a lot of people trying to cross the valley, along a single set of rope-and-pulley. The organizers pulled you across a valley, with you strapped in a rope. I had assumed we had to crawl upside down, along the rope. Still, it was hard work for the organizers - as they had to pull a lot of people , non-stop, from 10 am to 7 pm. I would like to see the buffy people spending so much time and money in gym try to do a tenth of what these "skinny" guys were doing. We started back at 7.30 am, and again, somewhere along the ghats, I puked again. We reached Mumbai at around 3 am. That was not the end of that three-day long weekend, I couldn't open my eyes the next morning, so it got converted into a four-day weekend.