We had unplanned a monsoon trek to Alang. We reached Udadave village, lying just ahead of Bari village at the foothoills of the Kalsubai hill range. The atmosphere was markedly rainy with thick clouds and fog obscuring the landscape and visibility reduced to a few hundred metres.
From Udadavane, we had planned to skirt around the ridge falling from southern end of Alang fortress and ascend over the upper plateau to reach the small patch under the main entrance. A couple of us were familiar with this route and we had done it earlier, albeit in the winters when visibility was clear and all the ridges well demarcated. This time around, rains, fogs and clouds created a problem and we couldn’t spot any ridge whatsoever. Also, the villagers directions were a bit tricky – either he interpreted our query incorrectly or we misunderstood his directions; either ways, we started our trek altogether with the wrong ridge.
We took the rigde falling from the Sakira dongar and skirted it to reach the western side of the spur. We kept on searching for the references from our earlier trek to ascend on the upper plateau. However, we did not find anything. We were overlooked by the steep and unclimbable walls of Sakira on our right and adjoining ridges of Kirda on our left. We were a bit uncertain about the route, but we had no clues about the ridge we were skirted and the col that we were approaching. In the obscuring fog, we mistook the walls of Sakira for Alang fortress and continued along trail further.
We walked tirelessly for hours to find a way to reach the upper plateau of the hill on our right (Sakira, which we though to be the lower slopes of Alang). Soon, the hills closed in on us. We entered a ravine and we were now quite sure that we had missed the correct trail In our front, overlooking us was a narrow col, demarcated by a sharp V-shape. We stared to ascend the col over the slippery and boulder ridden ravine.
After a steep ascent, we were faced with a 80 degree rock face, with wind-eroded steps, but all dangerously loose and slippery. We had not yet had a good lunch and we all were hungry. We had walked for long, clueless about the exact whereabouts, ridges and col. The wind was strong at the top. The rains. The cold and the shivers. The rock patch.
One of us, Shailendra climbed it, roped it and a couple of us followed him. Then as a reconnaissance, I descended steeply on the other side of the col, amidst the tall grasses and bushes. I descend deep down till a point from where could see deep down the ravine and confirm that we wont be facing steep fall in the valley further down the route. We could see a hamlet deep down.
It was already 4.30 and our going was going to be pegged back by the boulders, rains, slippery conditions. We were racing against Sunset. I climbed back to the top of the col. When the entire team and all the stuff was up on the col, we started on our descent. The descend was the same story, carefully measured steps of the extremely slippery and steep boulder ridden ravine. Many a times, it was a four-limbed trudge. The gushing water was making matters difficult.
No sooner was it dark. The going was further slowed down. After a long and tiring descent, we reached a trail on our right, which helped us deviate from the ravine and walk safely over the well marked trail along the right flank. We continued for another 3 hours before reaching the level plateau of the village, Ambewadi. It was 12.30 AM. The entire landscape was engulfed in pitch black darkness and we could not see a thing, except for tiny fireflies. We were surrounded by a maze of rice-fields and finding our way through it was a difficult task. Finally we resigned, and praying that it shouldn’t rain we agreed on camping under the open skies – open.
We were lucky that our prayers were answered, and it did not rain,. We had a good sleep. Wide awake at 6.00 AM, at the day break we could see the village barely 5 mins away from us. We crossed across the rice fileds over the bunds, across the river and reached the village.
We looked back at the col at the route we had followed and then could exactly understand the state of affairs. We could see that we missed the Alang fortress by some margin. Alang, Madangad and Kulang were seemed to be mocking at us and Kirda and Sakira gleeful that atleast there were 8 of the wandering souls who visited their flanks, which otherwise are completely ignored by the trekkers flocking to the Alang-Madangad-Kulang fortresses.
For me, I had visited the fort earlier and this time not being able to reach there was not such a sour thing. For others who were here for the first time, they were a slight-bit disappointed, but to be true, the things that we had just gone through was tough, tiring and that made the matters so much more enjoyable, exhilarating and rewarding. We moved along the lesser used Bailghat route / Kothala / Dhaman dhara between Sakira and Kirda in the Kalsubai range.
For the record, to summarise in a nutshell, we walked for 15 hours, ascending over boulder ridden slippery ravine, reached the top of the col only to be confronted with a steep 15 feet patch of loose rocks. climbing the obstacle blocking our path and then descending on the other side, again a steep and slippery descent along the ravine, in the darkness. It was pitch dark at 12.30 AM when we reached the plateau on which lay Ambewadi village. We were tired after the day long trudge, our bodies stiff and clueless about the exact location of the village we decided to stay under the open skies and that too when it would have rained any moment, alongside the river and rice fields. By God’s grace it didn’t pour. We woke up to a beautiful Sunny morning and reached the village within 5 minutes.
All in all, it was a wonderful outing, a trek.