Trek to Kalsubai

Two weekends ago, but could not really find the time to blog. Closing the issue at the magazine over the past week, so...
Anyway, we started late on friday night, headed out to Kasara station, stayed the night on the platform. A lucky few slept, or pretended to, most of us lazed around, walked around, looked at the stars and had a fair few smokes. There were some policemen and gardullas out and about, so it was like the city does not sleep even in the more remote places.
Anyway, the next morning, we started early. A big bunch of us were crammed into the taxis, and although there were twelve to fifteen of us in each taxi, we were still not using it to its full capacity. Six more usually got on the roof, and around five more squeezed in, if the villagers were using it.
We headed out to the base village, also named Kalsubai, and had some thepla breakfast there. The theplas were a tad insufficient, so we stuffed ourselves with the local poha, which was excellent, and made right below my nose. The crows were smart here, they came right up to us begging for food.
After breakfast, we started the ascent. It was about eight thirty by now. This was a large group, a 110 people had showed up, and it was one of the largest groups I have ever gone trekking with. The walk to the top was interesting, but there were an unusual number of sub-groups, and I was towards the front of the group.
We were pretty high up to start with, travelling at least more than half of the 5400 feet that Kalsubai is. On the hills opposite us, were a whole range of windills. It has been my intention for some time to photograph these large scale wind-mill projects  from closer up, but just dont seem to find the time or location. Will definitely visit these sometime. My first sight of the large-scale windmill installations, and what is surprising is that a lot of people did not notice despite going all the way to the top with this right behind them. 

Around twenty minutes into the ascent, there was a small village with a temple and some cows. These cows were a little strange, and am saving up some images f0r the epic bovine close-up thread I have been talking about for some time. The funny thing was that one of the cows had turned all the way around, put its mouth bewteen its own legs, and using it to drink its own urine. Cows can autofellation, and human's cannot. Shame on us. Would think that something like a cow was less flexible than a human being... not the case.

The temple offered us rest. On the way up there was nothing, but on the way down some sweets, nuts and lemon juice were available. Last point for getting good water before the well at the top.

Pay close attention to this patch. Will refer to it later. This is about one third of the way to the top. The trail consists of steep and almost vertical ascents which are sudden. However, this is not really tiring, even in summer. This is because there is a well maintained way to the top, with well cut stairs and even metal staircases with rails. 

So you end up climbing high very quickly. This is the same patch, only twenty or so minutes later. Notice the large group of people still trailing behind us. We owned the mountain that day. 

Some of us stopped for Lemon juice, or numbu paani. The poor guy was taking his wares to the top, but we stopped him half-way. Then people kept coming and asking for more, so his stock got finished before he could go all the way up. So he goes back down, a day's work done at doublespeed because of the size of our group. 

You might remember the blue hills wallpaper in Windows XP. If I fiddle around with the colours in photoshop a bit, maybe I can get the same effect with this photo:

This is half-way to the top, there is a small balcony that affords a good view of the surroundings. The picture above was taken from there. There is still a long way to go, and in fact, the tiring part starts here. Most of the group is still far behind us, and I maxed out the zoom to get this one:  

That she blows! The first clear view of Kalsubai. Kalsubai itself is the name of the temple on top . A hundred people can, however, easily sit on the top. 

The highest peak in Maharashtra, and they defile it with god damn railings. Idiots. 

There is a well just before the final stretch. Wikipedia says the water is not potable in summer, but we know better. It was very cold, and very refreshing. Everything bottled mountain water claims to be and isn't. Funny when we have people on treks insisting on  "mineral water", look around strangely insistend people, this is what mineral water is. 
Around this point, you get level with the clouds. Ears pop. Altitute shit starts happening. Most importantly, ordinary lighters stop functioning. 

This is it, the final staircase. Beyond that is the highest point any human can go without flying in all of Deccan. 

The heat and the number of people traversing it has strained it a little too much. There  were many half-hearted attempts to fix these kinks. 

View from the top. This is right where the temple is. The clouds were approaching us, but they were below us. Old trekker tells me of times like these, where its raining below you, and you can see rainbows below your feet. Rainbows in the plural. These rainbows are supposedly clearer and closer than you can see in the sky. 
Eventually the clouds reached us, and rolled over the mountains below us. Great feeling.

We were one of the few people on the top.  Around five-six of us were so thrilled, that we kept going, and didn't stop till we reached the top. (Is that an old Jungle Book song?) Anyway, point being, if everyone sat down, and you were the only person to be standing, then no one stood taller around you for god knows how many miles. Kalsubai is not only the tallest peak in Maharashtra, but its the tallest point in the oldest mountain ranges in the world. This huge chunk of basalt was as old as the oldest continents human geology knows - back when gondwanaland sattered. More than the height, it was the age of the place, that got to me. Looking around, you could spot Harihar, Ratangad, Harishchandragad and the notorious triplets, Alang, Madan and Kulang. 

Ah well. There were many thoughts, most of them to indistinct to chronicle. Anyway, this is me, frozen in time, being the highest person in Maharashtra at that time.