Everything that can go wrong on a Western Ghats trek!
Every weekend we organise treks and take people on trekking journeys not as an organisation but as a team. Multiple factors can make or break a trek, and going as a team ensures that we are well-aware, educated, and in control of any scenario. The foreign territories host many unsafe wildlife encounters, weather conditions and human errors. This list will make you aware of all dodgings behind organising a successful trek. As a trekker, try to avoid situations that might go wrong from your end.
Ghat roads are crooked. Meandering through the valleys as the bus takes turns while applying brakes, there are high chances that it gets heated up to the point that might require it to stop, cool down and then move forward. Or, there are chances of other kinds of glitches in the machine like tyre puncture.
Avoid this by: No amount of good health of the vehicle can 100% avoid this. The drivers are generally aware of these, and giving them time and assistance is the best we can do as a team.
We meet as strangers and turn into a family just after the trek. A significant part of this is helped by the team-building activities we do after all of us board the bus. If there is a delay in pickups so much so that we sleep, this initial activity is missed.
Moreover, on weekend treks, time is tight. Multiple things might go unplanned. You board the bus in the evening and mostly start trekking after reaching the destination and freshening up. Particular treks like Kudremukh require acquiring passes from the Forest department on the same day. These passes can be taken based on headcount on the same day. Much delay in reaching the destination might result in not getting the passes at all and hence, no trek.
Avoid this by: Every trekker must ensure from their end that they reach the boarding point at the stipulated time.
Although not prevalent, landslides and storms might hit the western ghats at uncertain times. Our trek leaders are well-equipped with the knowledge and first-aid if something happens.
Avoid this by being aware of the weather conditions and not responding panicky.
PTU outsources the travelling part. Different agencies supply the bus and the drivers. In this, we sometimes face the problem with the driver who is unresponsive, too slow, has a language barrier, is tired, etc.
Avoid this by: Trek leaders communicate the problems with the driver, and if we don’t get a proper response, an alarm is raised to the agency.
A trek is full of mighty trails. A sudden twist in the leg, dehydration, losing way, interruptions, etc., may slow the group down.
Avoid this by staying in the middle or following the trek leaders or the local guide. Remember, a trek is nothing but the culmination of steps. Step after step after step leads you to the peak and similarly bring you down to the base. Don’t run on the trail or go somewhere the trek leader asks you not to go.
This one is small but highly missed by trekkers. They sometimes rely too much on the water from the streams.
We never advise trekkers to drink this water directly since this water is too energetic and cold. Instead, filling up bottles, waiting for at least half an hour, and consuming it is better.
Avoid this by: Carrying at least 2 litres of water from the base.
Trust us, you are wired for adventure if you see an elephant or other wild animals.
Avoid this by staying calm and following the trek leaders. Leaving animal territory and coming to a safe place before the sun sets is an excellent way to avoid such encounters.
Insects and snakes generally live in places away from human disturbances. We rarely hear of such bites on tracks that are routinely used.
Avoid this by: staying in the middle and following the trek leaders.
Treks in Western ghats range from easy to complex. Without adequate research, a trekker will be unaware of weather conditions, difficulty level, fitness required, proper equipment, etc.
Avoid this by properly following the itinerary and instructions given.
The government is sometimes bound to cancel, delay or close routes. Like on New Year Kodachadri trek 2022, the trek was closed on 31 December, when our departure was planned. We modified the itinerary, and trekkers enjoyed the trek in full swing.
Note: Harsh Patel, our trek leader and Internal Coordinator, provided valuable inputs for this article.
Think we missed something from everything that can go wrong on a Western Ghats trek? Do comment and let us know.