Skandhagiri Trek is one such trek in a series of treks planned by our yoga Guru and the organizers at Sir Gururaya School of Yoga in Nagarbhavi. Each of the Treks planned by them gets an overwhelming response both by the young and the young at heart. Skandhagiri also called Kalavara Durga needed some good planning for the 40 of us how wanted to catch the first glimpse of the Sun rising above the clouds. First in the line was obtaining permissions from the forest dept. which posed some difficulty but the organizers managed to get some important yet humble people to trek with us and that took care of it. With the day and time fixed, we all assembled for this streak at our Yoga school at around 11: 00 PM on a Friday night. Pleasantry exchanged we got into your cars with pre-planned groups to meet at Skandagiri trek point.
Just before 2 AM we all made it and started to gear up for the climb. Some of us just got some warm clothes and running shoes and some serious hikers geared up with army standard torch lights, hiking sticks, whistles, headlights, bags strapped to their backs, one glance at us and we looked like distant cousins of Edmund Hillary. None the less we were all there with good spirits. All of us walked together to the forest outpost where we paid a nominal fee and got the needed permission, thanks to the dignitaries with us this was a breeze. With this hurdle, down all that remained was reaching the top of Kalavara Durga just in time for sunrise. We started to trek around quarter past 2 AM. We had our jobs cut out for us, a 4 km long steep climb to the mountain top. We switched on torches and started to walk.
To begin with, the path was easy with leveled ground and small rocks here and there that we could kick around. This didn’t last too long, we were just one small trench away from reality. Crossing the trench with hops and jumps we had a 50-meter glimpse of what lied ahead of us. Big rocks, loose rocks, small gravel, dried slippery mud on the sides, twigs and trees roots popping out. We let our intuition guide us, stepping and climbing our way up as per our experience and fitness levels. We started to feel breathless at around 1 km mark, the starlit dark sky came to our advantage as we couldn’t see the mighty hill and the big boulders that were about to challenge us with every ounce of energy we had. We climbed with a hope that the peak was not too far away. Every stretch of the trek tested our physical and mental capacity to stay focused, to overcome our own limitations. With much-needed support and guidance from the group, we did make it to the top with no injuries after around 2 and a half hrs of hiking at 4:30 am. We were rewarded with delicious snacks like avalakki and samosas, bread and gulcan, sweets and the hot homemade herbal tea gave us the warmth to combat the cold temperatures.
We picked out some favorite spots and sat down on the cold big boulders of stone which kept us from dozing off as we waited for the sun to rise. Soon we could see the changing colors in the morning sky. The clouds looked pure white and then a ting of orange started to soak into it. Rays of the Sun came out looking like never-ending beams of orange light. The drama of the emperor of the universe rising played out for us to see and awe. A cloud carpet connecting Skandagiri to the Sun laid in front of us, for a moment the orange ball almost looked at hands reach. We got busy with taking selfies, groupies, profile pictures. This peak had a different view to offer in every direction we looked. The clouds clearing over the Nandi hills was enchanting by itself.
As the sun started to become bright we started to make our way down to the outpost. The dew had now set on to the rocks making them slippery. Some younglings managed to race down the hill while some took careful, calculated steps. Our knees and hips took the hit as we climbed down from big rocks and small cliffs taking help now and then from trees on the side. We assembled at the outpost all in one piece. Each one of us had made it, we all had one or the other physical ailment but we made it. The trek even though was very tiring was more fun thanks to the great group of people with amazing attitude and high spirits. We looked back and thanked Skandagiri for grounding us, for making us realize, reevaluate our physical and psychological capacity only to set our goals right as the new year begins.