Vikraman Karunanidhi: Fresh from my solo trek to Parvathamalai, one of the toughest treks - a bit dangerous in South India and the Eastern Ghats, I was looking for my next trekking adventure. Around that time, my boss was asking for suggestions for group activities in Pune. Naturally, I was rooting for a group trek. My boss suggested we go to Sinhagad fort which can be reached via trek as well as by car. So, folks who can’t trek can use a car and the rest can trek. The main concern was my knee pain. Since I had three weeks to recover, I was confident I could smoothly trek.
On the day of the trek, I was five minutes late and the first car to the destination had just become full and was about to leave. I was waiting in the other car for others to come. All of a sudden, a big gang came with a lot of enthusiasm and energy, and we finally left for the trek.
I interacted with everyone and made sure that a majority of us would be trekking. Saurabh Navale (Finance Executive) and Abhishek More (Human Potential Executive) from the management team worked tirelessly for days and barely slept. Saurabh was in my car and patiently briefed us about the history of the fort. I learned the significance of the fort and was looking forward to the trek.
We arrived at a point where two roads diverged, one leading to the trek and the other for vehicular traffic to reach the fort. I learned that no one from the first car opted for the trek. In hindsight, I’m thankful to Sathwik Katta (Research Associate) for arriving a couple of minutes earlier than me as I wanted to trek rather than travel by car. As we were getting ready, Saurabh waved bye to us and told us he would wait for us at the pinnacle with the car. Ashish jumped in and grabbed Saurab to join us for the trek. He had amazing convincing power and energy that forced Saurabh to trek.
There was good energy and a joyful spirit in the group. I kept a low-profile walking slowly as I was saving energy and hoping to avoid the situation where I would not be able to trek. Looking at the vibe, I was assured in the unlikely scenario that my knee pain acted up, the team would definitely help me to finish the trek. We had walked for nearly 3 KM but no sign of the starting point of the trek. When we reached the starting point, some folks were tired and wanted to eat/drink. I suggested to them it is a bad idea to eat just before climbing and also not to drink fizzy drinks as it was getting sunny.
Nilesh, who had been to this trek before signaled it is going to be an arduous journey of at least an hour from there. He also suggested that for those who want to bail out, this would be the right time. Fifteen minutes past the trek, some folks saw early signs of exhaustion and sweating. The reduced cadence was a boon for me as I could trek mindfully minimizing the impact on the knees. After a while, the cool breeze and whisper of the birds gave me an incredible feeling. I could see Pune City from a good vantage point.
Enthusiastic Ashish after reaching a milestone
We took regular breaks and nearly one hour had passed. After enquiring, it would take at least half an hour to reach the halfway point. Water resources were getting depleted and we were getting dehydrated. Around the halfway point, we found a shop that was serving cucumbers and buttermilk. After recharging ourselves we set forward and learned that it takes around thirty minutes. Saurabh was a bit restless and wanted to complete the trek in one go as he was tired. My knees were doing just fine and I liked his spirit.
I joined him in marching forward. I told him I too wanted to complete it in one go. He wanted to take shortcuts, the routes with lesser steps but steeper. There was a hint of doubt due to my knee condition, but I decided to put the fears aside and focus on my steps to minimize knee impact.
While we were climbing steep rocks, I remembered a quote.
“Runners use their hands and throwers use their legs to achieve their respective goals.”
Saurabh’s heart rate went up and he wanted to take a break. I wanted to reach quickly so that I could get a glimpse of the fort while others took their time to trek. After a while, I could see the entrance to the fort and was pumped. We made quick stops at the fort ruins and enjoyed great views from all angles. When I got back, I met the rest of the group and we departed shortly. I was really happy to make it through and it was a memorable trip and a good team-bonding experience. I look forward to seeing what other treks we will do together as a team!