The River Trek

It was, as I had already mentioned raining heavily that morning, the water level in the river would most certainly rise by at least a feet within six hours.With the newly planned river trek in mind, we departed with our guide leading us at 9 AM.
We had with us, a pair of binoculars, packed lunch, a compass, two torch lights, my knife, a first aid kit, a couple of energy bars and juice cartons and other essentials. We did not take my 65L bag because obviously we didn’t carry that much. Instead, we took Abishek’s and Arvind’s backpacks. The lunch was carried in a jute bag by the guide. I had left my camera and my phone behind at the resort – I expected that we’d get very very wet in a very short time. An interesting decision I made was to not wear the military issue boots. I did so because they seemed like leather buckets that would fill up with water and not drain at all! I compromised the superior grip of the boots for the drainage capacity of my buckles. Arvind also made an interesting decision – he brought along an umbrella, because he didn’t want to get wet in the rain when we’d be crossing a river which is only a water body.
We had to cross the river because the banks on the other side offered more walking space. We were travelling upstream. But we couldn’t cross at the resort itself because it was very deep there. So we walked uphill for a bit and descended to the rapids. The water was muddy – filled with the mud being washed away by the first week of monsoon. We had no perception of depth in the water. The guide felt his way across the river. We came across the first suitable crossing. The guide went first, followed by me, then Abishek and finally Arvind. The river bed varied there from knee deep to chest deep! It wasn’t the depth that was making the crossing difficult but the slippery rocks and the sweeping currents in the rapids. We slowly waded to small island in the middle of the river but we had to circle back to the same bank we set out from because the river was too deep between the island and the target bank.
We waded slowly back – some of us slower than the others. Arvind was having a tough time because he wasn’t able to overcome his fear. I on the other hand was too trusting on my feet! I fell into the water at least a dozen times before we reached the other shore! We doubled back and found a better route across the river where the depth was safe to cross. Right in the middle of the river, the current was so strong that when I slipped on one of the rocks, I was swept away! I help on to a larger rock and pulled myself up against the stream only to slip and drift off further! Finally, I gave up fighting the current and executed an in-water roll towards the opposite shore. It is similar to rolling on a solid floor but only, you’d be constantly pushed down and forward, you’d have to keep yourself afloat and not get hurt in the sharp rocks underneath you. When I reached the shores, I was wet head to toe and Arvind’s backpack which I was carrying was drenched!
Having reached the opposite bank, we continued walking along the river upstream. It was still raining very heavily. We momentarily stopped because Abishek’s phone started vibrating endlessly. He had covered his phone with two layers of ziplock bags and the water still damaged the phone! It seemed to be a lost cause and it would continue to vibrate for the rest of the trek!!! We crossed the river again – this time in a torrential rain! Here the jungle became visibly thicker. In the open, the raindrops felt like bullets on our skins whereas under the canopy, we felt nothing but the leaves licking our skins. We literally had to crawl through vines to get ahead. After a point, it became impossible for us to advance – we had to turn back!
We came up on a couple of huge rocks where we decided to rest for a few minutes and dig into our energy bars and juice. We spotted a mountain trail which we followed. It was a fairly well-established trail we walked uphill for quite some time. After a kilometer or so, we came across a small culvert – it was one of the feed streams to the main river. It had been raining throughout and our guide even stopped sometimes because trees fall during such heavy downpours, a tree had fallen in the path too! I was amazed to see the swell in the stream! Clearly the water level in the main river had risen exponentially in just a matter of 30 minutes! On Abishek’s initiative, I climbed down the trail along the culvert to see the waterfall better. The waterfall itself wasn’t high or anything but it was a series of rocks having a gentle upward slope stretching for a good distance. We decided to climb up the waterfall for a good while. Here too, Arvind was hesitant. He came down at least 10 minutes after we had come. We eased our muscles in the therapeutic flow of the stream. We climbed further and further. We climbed for a good 20 minutes! It was the most scenic place I had ever seen! My heart sank when I realised that we had no means of taking photographs. It is impossible to describe that paradise with words without doing it gross injustice. It was a pity that Arvind took so long to follow us that he missed more of the higher portions. We started climbing down to meet him more than halfway to the bridge! Man, he missed a lot! Coming down was so much fun too! I slid down the stream on the slippery rocks and the restless stream. It is true that I fell down hard once or twice and hurt my behinds. I also bruised my fingers, arms and legs on the sharp rocks many times but it didn’t matter. This was it – I was my own master there, no one to give me orders, no one to remind me of how unsafe it all was, no more playing it by risk and rules! Arvind and the guide were far down. Abishek was not going to restrain me from having fun, he in fact was instrumental in me letting go and having such fun!
Finally we ate a simple lunch at 1 PM perched on a rock by the waterfall! The packed lunch was just garnished curd rice. It was sour and was garnished lavishly with jeera and lentils. It reminded me of the curd rice they give in Hindu temples! It was the best curd rice I had ever eaten! Arvind didn’t eat much – he complained that it was too sour! Our guide explained that the river would now be impassable and we had to stick to trails. I didn’t complain, the waterfall had fulfilled all the adventure requirements of my trip. We slowly trudged up the hill and then down.
We reached the resort again at 5 PM. Talk about a day well spent!

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