Green Route trek - Part 3

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sharath and Ethapay were cautious about leeches and smeared (poured?) Neem oil on their legs and shoes. The sight of the tracks enthused all of us. After spending few minutes on the photo session marking the initial point of trekking, we started the famous Green Route trek. The railway milestone there read 47/400. It took us few hundreds of meters to decipher that the milestones were indicating Kms/Mts, so that made us fix the number 47/400 in our minds as the reference point. Sharath exploited his Digital SLR by taking the pic of mist on leave, mist on spider web and all such tiny little but beautiful things. Knowing the imitations of our cameras, Ethapay n me concentrated on the big things like the trees around, the shrubs and fellow human beings, which were big but not so beautiful :)

After trekking for over a kilometer we were eager to spot the first bridge. While crossing the bridge, this time there were more camera clicks and solo pics taken, mostly of Ethapay :) By then we had managed to learn the art of walking on the gravel not hurting our soles nor getting our ankles twisted, Only to realize later @ the end of the day that there IS NO trick to walk on gravel for 20+ kms not hurting our soles. We spotted a woman walking between the tracks, greasing the edges of the tracks with a sticky black fluid which she was carrying in a plastic bucket. That woman was wearing a pair of Hawai slippers putting us to shame. If she had not got the task of checking the oxidized edges on tracks and greasing them to prevent them from further rusting and hence to prevent friction with the train wheels, I bet she would have walked with a better pace than us. After trekking for nearly a kilometer, we heard the honk of a train. Spotting it in the opposite direction, we all got off the track. The goods train was trying hard to pull the load with a slow pace. Sharath wanted to take a pic of train approaching in opposite direction and moved back on the track to take a pic. Seeing Sharath's heroics through a small rectangular 'windshield' (Volvo buses would have bigger rear-view mirrors :)), the driver of the goods train honked loud but in short bits. I think it roughly translates to 'Get off , you heroic ass****' in English ;) The goods train in these region usually have two engines, to pull the load in the slope and also to help the train decelerate quickly.

Many more photographs snapped and many more PJs cracked, we now could spot the stranded railway station of Donigal waiting for the guest trekkers like us. We alighted our backpacks in the corridor of the platform. We freshened up; thanks to the wash basin with a tap there. The platform has few rooms for the railway employees who patrol in shifts to notify any landslide obstructing the movement of trains and also validate other technical details pertaining signals and railway traffic round the clock. Sharath handed over our share of Chapatis neatly rolled into a parcel. Thanks a ton to his mom for the effort. Chewing every morsel of my share of Chapatis, I relished the whole milieu of the stranded railway station more and more. The sight of empty stations and empty platforms always fascinates me. I stared at the empty platform as a spectator would stare at an empty stage, just after his favorite play has gotten over. Yes that’s the precise feeling I have every time I look at an empty platform. There must have run a Simran towards her Raj, from the loosening clutches of her father around her wrist. There must have been a Geet just making it to the train, traveling to meet her Aryamaan. There must have run a Veer wriggling past the people on platform just to get a glimpse of Harleen before she leaves his town for ever. I know these thoughts are highly cynical, but it amuses me the most. I was brought back to the reality when Pujar asked whether we have carried sufficient food for lunch. We relished Chapatis and saved few for the lunch in the given share for each of us.

Having a clear goal of reaching Yedakumeri railway station before the dusk, we did not rest in Donigal station for a long time. Carrying our backpacks, we trekked ahead. The drizzle accompanied us throughout. We kept getting bridges after bridges, but much awaited tunnels were not seen at all. Almost all the bridges we crossed had at least one stand-by just to safely (!) run to it and stand aside when the train comes when trekkers are in the middle of crossing a bridge. Luckily we did not get the train when we were on the bridge.

Tip: Be careful when you are running to the nearest stand-by, some of them have missing planks and more over they would all be very slippery during rainy season.

Trekking ahead, as precisely told by a railway employee, we got our first tunnel. Near the entrance on top of the tunnel, all the tunnels are etched with the year it was constructed in (most of the tunnels are built in 1970s) and the length of that particular tunnel (ranging from 100+mts to the longest being 572 mts).We were all excited to walk through the pitch black darkness. We all made sure we hear no sound of train before entering the tunnel. Every one of us had obeyed to the trip itinerary by carrying a torch each. The first tunnel was some 100+ mts long (I think). We walked few steps ahead and felt as if the darkness has engulfed all the six of us. Pointing the bright spot of the torch on the track, I looked ahead; my eyes failed to spot any source of light or any other bright spot in the tunnel. For a moment I thought I was blind. My eyes were wide open but I was seeing only darkness and nothing but darkness. Walking through the tunnels is more fun when the tunnel is curved and there absolutely is no chance of sighting the other end of the tunnel.

Tip: When you are in tunnel and train comes in, do not panic. Just stand resting your back against the walls of the tunnel. All the tunnels have this sufficient gap.

[In the next and the last part of this travelogue, expect to read about Byre - the Usain Bolt of trekking through tunnels, a narrow escape in one of the tunnels, a landslide, Ethapay's chhoti si love story inside a tunnel and reaching Yedakumeri station]

(to be contd...)

Comments (2)

I remember the longest tunnel being 684 mts or something. Are you sure about this one anna?

Umm.. 572 mts AFAIR..

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