Published: October 6th 2009October 4th 2009
We got up at 6.30 am with no hint at all of the eventful day that lay ahead of us. After a dose of hot tea, we started off in the fog which had not relented since yesterday. It had rained pretty badly the last night and my apprehensions of climbing the Budhala Machi returned. However I comforted myself in the presence of Bhagoji Dere and started walking. A number of trails spurted out from the original trail creating confusion in a foggy day like this. The rule of thumb was to keep right at the forks, take the middle path at junctions and never descend. We passed the Dhardev mandir and stopped at the second house who offered us with some buttermilk. Bhagoji and his friend at the second house feasted themselves with generous handfuls of dry fruits when we passed on the box ! That was quite a handful ! The trail from the second house is pretty straightforward traversing over a number of small hills and depending on the trail you take you will have the valley either to your right or left. Finally we reached the dreaded Budhala Machi. To my relief, the most difficult patch was
just about 50 ft. Sid on his first major trek did a terrific job, followed Bhagoji's advice on steps and completed the patch uneventfully. Then at the top of Machi, Bhagoji asked us to turn right and follow straight to Torana. Sid, pretty much impressed and relieved with the feat he had achieved, gave Bhagoji 100 bucks more. Sid, not exactly articulate in Marathi, placed his hand on his heart said, 'Its from here !". Bhagoji was really moved. When asked to pose for the photo, Bhagoji hastily removed his scarf, neatly wrapped around over his head as a turban, straightened his shirt and shorts and gave a wide smile. We parted and headed towards Torana celebrating (a little prematurely as we realized it later). On the way we met 4-5 guys who were headed to Rajgad. As a matter of fact, they mentioned that they started for Rajgad last night, climbed down the rock patch and then as the fog grew and rains started, they gave up and climbed up again to sleep on the open space on Torana. As if it was a walk in Jijamata Udyan ! We marveled at their feat. Later as Vivek told me they were from Raanvata, I went back and shook hands with swapnil pawar for a very beautiful site
that he had created and which I had just seen while researching Torana on Google. We continued and came to a place where the trail disappeared. There was a slippery rock patch that ended in a vertical drop in the valley. Vivek ventured, climbed up the patch, turned right at the dead-end and walked on the ridge with valley on both sides. After 20 min, he came back confirming that this was the way. We removed ropes, pulled up the bags and also tied it around Sid, just to be on a safer side. A 15 min walk later, we reached Torana, the destination that had evaded us for nearly 2 days ! There was a group of 60 guys and girls at the Mengai temple compond which left just as we entered. We threw our bags in the temple compound, took some snaps and settled down for lunch. As we were about to finish the lunch, a guy from
the group came to us hurriedly and panting asked us whether we had any pain-killer. One of the girl had suddenly developed a swollen knee and was unable to walk any further. Sid gave him a couple of Combiflams. We started the hike down at 1.00 pm hoping to reach Velhe, the village at the base, at 3.00 pm to take the ST bus at 6.30 pm. But as we reached the darwaja, we found 3 guys and a girl sitting. She had a real swollen knee and we didnt have a slightest idea of how she is going to go all the way down ! To make the matters worse, it started pouring down. After analysing the situation, we decided the guys would walk her down the difficult rock patch and then we will make a makeshift stretcher of the ladder that we got at the torana office and carry her down on the somewhat flatter patch. The whole thing took agonizing 7 hours ! The real heroes were the girl, a muscular guy who guided her all the way and was the lead stretcher-lifter and the rains which stopped after an hour cleared all the fog making it easier as it grew dark. Finally we reached the hotel Torana Vihar at Velhe. But not before we had a couple of strong falls, killed a viper (or that was what we thought) and cursed on the never ending trail ! We had hiked for almost 14 hours with just an hour of break. We feasted on the good misal pav and hopped into the jeep
which dropped us at Swargate. Drenched and terribly smelling, we opted for the ST bus who surprisingly took the LBS road and dropped us at Gandhinagar. I called up my brother who was courteous enough to bring the car at 3.00 am. After greeting me at the door, the terrible smells prompted my mother to start the geyser and I headed to the bathroom for a nice hot and a much needed bath. My apologies to the guy who was sitting beside me in the ST !