Trek to Ratangad

Posted: by Pulsurge in Labels: , ,

Place: Ratangad, Ahmednagar District.

Trekkers (LOL) : Glen, Deepak

The route & distance :
Mumbai- Igatpuri- Ghoti- Pimpalgaon- Bhandardara- Ghatgar- Saamrad- Ratanvadi- Ratangad: distance one way 231 kms.

The roll-off time got delayed again coz of me :'( Packing up became complicated- didn't have a very big bag and had a hard time pushing in the stove, bottles, utensils, clothing. Thanks to Prasad who straightaway gave his wonderful tent for our use, we would have been dead in the cold without it. Was about to leave, but then heavy rains delayed it more further. Caught up with Glen at the usual meeting place, purchased the required eatables, refueled, topped up the engine oil and the ride finally started.

Relaxed cruising speeds with ocassional stops for snaps, also finished off the biscuits that Glen had brought. Igatpuri ghat is in a very horrible state, in fact NH3 is in a bad shape. A good patch and suddenly you come across a trench. With heavy stuff behind held by a single set of bungees wasn't helping in last minute flicks. It somewhat took away the fun of riding on the highway. Ghoti village was as usual crowded and the diversion towards the railway crossing seemed like a lunar expedition. But after that it was a dream cruise. Tile-flat straight roads with greenery all around and hills in the distance took away the nags of those bad roads.

I got so lost into cruising that missed the diversion towards Bhandardara and by the time I realised we were some 20 kms ahead of the diversion.

Took a U-turn for Pimpalgaon and reached Bhandardara passing through slippery and loose roads, but again through green and beautiful surroundings. Had lunch at Bhandardara. Crossed the checkpost towards Ghatgar- entry fee was Rs.35/- per head (20 for the bike, 15 for the rider). Twisties all the way but again wet, slippery and loose- Glen was least worried and kept running as if riding on normal roads. One section was absolute heaven- there was this river flowing across, with absolute green banks, riding on the straight road- we felt as we were heading towards heaven.

The hills on all sides with cloud cover on the top and Mt. Kalsubai- what to say....aaaaaah. It looked like the abode of the almighty.

Half the time our concentration was more on the peak rather than the road. I was lucky, but Glen was so lost in the surroundings gazing at the peak that he came too close to the edge of the road and hit a small rock....and literally flew off the bike. Luckily wasnt anything major- both machine and the rider were in proper shape :P Took a lot of pics of the mystic mountain that seemed so inviting. Being the highest peak in Maharashtra, it sets a challenge for trekkers, for me it seemed like a mother calling her kid for a hug. It has left a deep carve in my heart- will surely be visiting.

Riding ahead passing through Ghatgar dam, taking a left diversion from Saamrad took us to Ratanwadi.

Parked our bikes under a tree, negotiated for a guide who in the end turned out a very young chap called Nandu. Deal was truck for 175 bucks, there was this another group from Pune who had come for trekking, so we shared the pay. The trek finally started at 6.15 p.m. passing through numerous streams under a drizzle through thick forests and fog, and horrible mosquitos for company- some easy and some vertical climbs clearly showing up how physically fit we were.

My bag was becoming a burden and Glen too was finding it impossible to trek with his bag behind. Nandu was kind enough to ask me, if he could carry my bag- no way I could refuse. I took over Glen's bag and handed over the tent to him. Though I have only seen on TV, this felt like a trek through the
Amazon jungle

Came across a green python, which very soon got pakaud of us- maybe he didnt like too much attention and just crawled away- was indeed very beautiful creature to look at.

Nandu was a very smart chap, he could sense us all getting tired and stopping frequently- but he kept us encouraging and assuring us that we are very close to the peak, though it wasnt. Later he said that we are very close to the steps and it wont take much time getting on top. On hearing these assurances from him, we started dreaming about taking a small rest for our stiff backs and stretched out legs on the steps of the fort. We see a shaky metal ladder with half support on the left and broken support on the right side where the deep valley was. We asked him what was this- he said these are the steps.... we were like- WHAAAAT!!! You said step, this is a ladder :))

It was already dark now and we had to get over it, under the torchlight everyone started ascending yelling out tips to each other as to how to get over it- though everyone was worried for one ownself. I was the last one to climb and phobian about heights, was making my way slowly. These people from the top are screaming, hold the left, dont hold the right, its loose this that.... come up, come up- dont look down. I was never looking down, had the torch in my hand. Now their words made me curious as to what was down. I pointed the torch down the ladder.......oh boy- all the blood ran down to the legs- the drop below scared out all the guts within. I wasnt able to move an inch from the spot at least for two minutes. Started chanting the name of the almighty and finally made it to the top- but that wasnt the end. There was another to come, this was safe, but the start of the stairs was deadly. A tin platform was fixed between two right angled edges and underneath it was nothing, if it goes down with your weight, you can be sure you will be with it for company. Bad thing was it even that was broken and the holding support again was shaky. Somehow got onto the ladder, the good part here was even if you fall there was the ground below to hold you so this was easy. Another hurdle was through- now came a very narrow section where only one person can pass.

No steps, some dents carved in the rocks to stick in your feet and hands, was slippery but no probs in getting through this too. A similar narrow pass and that was the last. Reached the top and found both the caves full with people. Dumped all the luggage and tried to set up the tent which I simply couldnt manage to for half an hour, was dark with mind and body both tired, wet clothes, chilly breeze. Just left it on the floor, changed up, lit up the stove after a lot of effort.

Started to assemble the tent and voila it was up in no time. Heated the chicken Glen had bought from the restaurant, took out the boiled eggs, set up all the things inside- dinner was ready.

Called up Nandu and we three had a good time finishing off the stuff in no time. Roamed around for some time and was time to sleep.

I didnt carry a blanket and crept inside Nandu's blanket to escape the cold. Wasnt able to sleep the whole night, the make-shift pillow I made out of wet clothes in a plastic bag was too noisy, plus the floor wasn't flat and turned out to be irritating.

The night passed and I was up at 6. Thought to take some pics of the surroundings which didnt happen, the fog never allowed us to. Had tea, maggi noodles and soup for breakfast.

Changed up, packed the things for departure with a group of other trekkers. Till they got ready Glen and myself went for an exploration on the top.

Came back with everyone ready to descend. The sections were still scary for me but reduced to some extent.

Covering half the distance, we took a halt with the other trekkers going ahead. On our feet again looking around at the forest we missed out in the night, clicking the surroundings.

Kept walking, negotiating the uneven surface with our weak legs, following the track and suddenly that was the end of the road. Just a large stream ahead with no place to walk. Looked here and there for an alternate route- in plain words - WE WERE LOST!!

Instead of heading back, we just took the path we could locate. Empty houses in the forests ruled out any chances of asking for directions. Halfway a shepherd spotted us from a hill-top and using his stick pointed us towards the direction we had to go. Tired legs kept following the path we could see, thirsty and tired- we didnt have water too. Thanks to the monsoons, the springs came to the rescue- clear, cool, sweet and refreshing. Amidst the tiredness we had some moments of humour too- I was descending down a small hill towards a stream and DHAAAAADD, slipped and fell down. Wasnt hurt as there was a good layer of green grass to take the shock. Glen from behind enquiring "Hey you ok...hope you are not...."and DHAAADD again - now Glen falls. Funny sight it was. We had a long loud and hearty laugh at each other. But now we could see the bridge in the distance which we took to come to Ratanwadi.

There were streams everywhere- tired Glen thought of taking a dip but then managed to lay down the banks with his feet in the water. With due respect to his tiredness at that point of time, I cannot stop myself laughing at that pic everytime I see it.. he looks like an abandoned corpse :))

At last we made it to Ratanwadi and collected our belongings from Nandu. Visited the Lord Shiva Temple which is supposed to be 500 years old.

Found a small stall where pakodas were available instantly. Relished on two portions with 3 tea cuttings. Time for return- stacked the luggage onto the bike, clicked a pic with Nandu and we were off.

The sun was out on our return, though Kalsubai peak was still covered with clouds, it looked even more majestic. We stopped over at the heavenly place I have cited above.

Took some pics and planned to return to that place soon for camping overnight. In the meantime Glen had lunch I went around hunting for fuel as there are no bunks in Bhandardara. Bought a litre from a roadside vendor for 60 bucks a litre for both of us that would take us uninterrupted till the next bunk.

Enjoyed the Ghoti stretch again and it was about time for a lunar experience again.

Though this time I took the safer side and rolled over to the concrete construction, but poor Glen was caught in a knee deep muddy pool. The bike just wasnt coming out, I went out to help and I too landed in the dirt.

Somehow pulled out his bike and moved towards the nearest petrol bunk. Fuel was the secondary reason, we first had to get rid of the paste on the shoes and trousers. My leg looked like it was made of clay, not even one spot was spared. Hopped to a nearby bunk, dirtied the already dirty toilet, refuled and off towards Mumbai. Didnt enjoy riding back again owing to bad roads. Enjoyed some leaning sessions on some good sections of Igatpuri Ghats, got a shock realising no bites on the front brake, the rear ones are almost non existent. Somehow managed to come to a halt, tried to pump up the pressure- still no use. Surprising it started working- still confused till date as to what happened. Carried on with the game ahead. Just a tea halt in between and we carried on riding till Thane. Realised how crippled I was for lack of good headlight beam, thankfully the roads were dry and it was not raining. Had a cautious ride back, but still couldnt avoid going bang over some.

Back home, hot bath, home food which I missed for two days. Soon after- am into temporary comma, but the picture was still there in the front of my eyes... calling me back. Na na..... not Ratangad- but the mighty Kalsubai. Thanks to Glen for the company and the pics. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Snapshots of a memorable trip here.