Thursday, March 24, 2016

Muthodi Forest and Mulliyangiri

We were discussing on where to go for a trek, but the hot summer made us think twice about the location. Should we get burnt in the hot mountains was the question? Finally we decided that we will head to Harsha's uncle's coffee estate attached to Muthodi Forest range spend some time around and  then try trekking the Mulliyangiri Peak. The highest peak of Karnataka at around 6398ft. Even though I had been trekking for some time, I had never trekked Mulliyangiri because since there is a road connectivity to the peak, I believed the place would be badly littered. I was not wrong. Usually I avoid going to such places, but this time we thought since its just 2-3kms trek we can finish it off at least from the list of places to be visited.

Initially around 8 people wanted to join us but at the end only 3 of decided to explore. Good that we continued with the trend of once planned never back off irrespective of the numbers. Since we were only 3, we decided to drive in Diwi's car. We started around 5am from Bangalore and reached Chickmagalur around 9am. We straight away went to Forest office located very near to the bus stand, as it is mandatory to take permission from the RFO before trekking here. To our bad luck it was a holiday and we could only find some employees doing some pending work on a holiday, on our request to them they gave us the contact number of the RFO. I called up the RFO and told we had come from Bangalore and we wanted permission to trek, to which the RFO told he would come to office in 30min and asked us to wait.

After almost an hour of waiting finally the RFO came to office even on a holiday, it was a pleasant surprise at the first place. I had to mention it was pleasant meeting RFO Abdul Azeez not because we got permission to trek, but his pep talk on what to do and what not in the forest. He mentioned that usually they don't give permission in summer because many times people smoke or light fire to the dry grass which burns off the entire mountain ranges. We were lucky to get permission, probably he felt we were sensible enough. 

After getting permission we headed straight to Harsha's uncles place and had a nice brunch. We parked our car and took their jeep to head towards the estate. We reached the Muthodi forest check post around 3pm and waited around 1 hour to go for a safari. At around 4 we went for a safari, since it was summer I was expecting some good sighting near the water holes, but my bad luck with the predators continues. Nothing interesting other than few sambars and peacock. It was nice to see a 300 year old Teak tree in the middle of the forest.

After the safari we headed towards the coffee estate which around 7-8kms from the forest check post and is attached to the forest. We reached around 6.30pm but due to some repair issues there was no power for the entire night. We met couple of other friends who owned the estate and together we all prepared the dinner and had a wonderful dinner. We retired to bed early as we had plans of trekking early next day.

We started from the estate around 6am promising to visit again in the monsoons and explore more. The drive from the estate to the starting point of the trek "Sarpa haadi" was spectacular. Beautiful forest, coffee estates, mountain ranges and the early golden light. It was a beautiful drive. We reached the start point around 9am after showing the permission letter to the forest officer a couple of miles before the starting point. Even he was surprised to see the letter and mentioned the same thing that mostly no one gets permission in this season.But slowly I started gaining confidence and I was walking consistently with smaller steps without trying much.

To be frank I thought this trek to be  simplest one because distance wise it was just around 2-3kms, but probably due to summer heat and the steepness it did take a troll. Probably lack of activity for quite some time has reduced our fitness. Finally we reached the peak after around 90min of trek. There is a small temple on the peak and lots of visitors come to the temple by road. As expected the entire area was completely littered with plastics. The place is beautiful but I guess needs lot of cleaning. This has been the biggest problem in India, there are many wonderful places but the day you provide connectivity to such places by road to promote tourism it gets spoilt big time.

We were already late since we wanted to reach Bangalore by evening, hence we didn't trek back rather we took a lift to the starting point. We heard there are couple of beautiful waterfalls inside the private coffee estates but we decided to explore it next time around since we were getting late. We reached Chickmagalur and got freshened up and started heading back to Bangalore. Over all a wonderful weekend with a nice trek, safari, drive on the mountains and some quality time with the nature. 
This trek would be wonderful if attempted after monsoons. This trek can be extended from Mullaiyan giri to Bababudan giri, we could see the trail probably some other time.

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