Mountain Walking

Off the beaten track 

I go to a mountain to look inside … look inside me that is. The higher I walk along the mountain, the deeper I dig into myself. The longer I walk, the more paths I come across and the greater the desire to take every path that meanders off the beaten trail.
This morning we walked up a dirt-path up the mountain side within which nestles the Camelot Resort. A few minutes out of the resort’s organic farm, we came across bison tracks – a bison had come down the mountain probably on his way to the forest across. (Jacob from the resort said it would have been a two-tonne bison). I looked at the tracks and they were coming right out of the forest ahead and above and they went down the path we had walked up and then away into the forest in the hills yonder.

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The thought of finding a bison on my walk was at once petrifying and inviting.
As I walked ever upwards along the shoulder of the mountain, the path suddenly came to an end: there was nothing but dense foliage and the turn back down. I walked into the forest, and at once started feeling the familiar rush of blood, and the smell of my own fear mixed with excitement. For a while, it felt like a tropical jungle, parting bushes and deflecting sharp branches and shrugging off weeds and shrubs that clung to my leg … all the while the symphony of the crickets and insects the only sound.

And then we broke into a rocky patch with knee-length grass (trampled), sloping away and off the edge … and one could see the forests, vales and tea-estates all around, crowned by the view of The Elephant’s Head – the Anamudhi Hills, the highest peak the Western Ghats, in fact, the highest in India outside of the Himalayas.

I stood there in silence, thanking the powers that be for giving me the strength to overcome my fears and walk through the forest – imagine having gone back without seeing this?

On the way back, there was a bamboo bush, partly trampled, partly munched, very fresh tracks –  an elephant had been here a few hours earlier (apparently elephants love bamboo).

Came across several species of birds, more bison tracks and fresh deer tracks on the way down. And since we went down a different path, had to more or less climb down a rocky path and then slide down the tea plantation- and all this before 7.30 am. A very productive morning by all standards.

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