Hello folks who wonder if golf professionals retire from golf to play more golf in their retirement,

This is the concluding post of the introductory post about my night hike during my travels in India. Read that one first before you proceed further so you know about the who, why, where and what.

A quick recap for folks who forgot about this from a week ago. Planned for a night hike, started late, darkness fell, looked at a bunch of critters, took a wrong turn, then another, and another, decided to rest for the night, lie down on my back and wonder if people who order broccoli on their pizza are fighting some demons.

After a 5 hour hike, when I laid down on the side of the hill, the wet soil against my back gave a break to muscles and joints that were working overtime from all the physical exertion of the hike. Wet clothing coupled with the cool breeze helped speed up the cooling process of my body and for a moment felt refreshing. This is perfectly fine, if we intend to keep on moving after a while, but when you are going to spend the night in one place, losing too much heat can drop your core temperature. But I won't find that out just yet.

This was the view from where we were lying down. Notice the lake and the villages at a distance.


My friend has exhausted his water bottle and I am running out of spare ones. Sharing the last bottle with him, I ask him to be conservative about his water usage as I don't know how much longer it will take to end this ordeal (*that's a lie, I have an emergency 500ml bottle but Shh! don't tell him that) . But this is not the time for water resource planning, because we start to dig into the cookies and chocolates that are tucked away neatly in our bags.

Despite the bad publicity sugar gets, there are very few things in life that come close to the feeling of a warm embrace of "Don't worry, everything is going to be alright" as a sugar cookie melting in your mouth. Even if it is just for a fleeting moment. After the snack (dinner) session, we decide to just sleep through the night.

This is the spot where we settled for the night. Note, how exposed the area is to winds, which seemed like a good companion at that time, will turn on us, just a matter of time.


The time was around 10 PM when we settled for the night. The sunrise is not expected till 6:30 AM the following morning which gives us around 8 1/2 hours of rest time which one could naively assume would be plenty of time to recharge our batteries. The first couple of hours went by rather quickly just lying on our backs, talking about random topics about the lives of villagers, where they choose to go on vacations and what would be the first dish we wish to eat once we get out of this place. I know my friend had dozed off when I stopped getting any responses. Checked my watch, 12:15 AM. Well, that was easy, the rest shouldn't be that bad. 

Closed my eyes and woke up after 45 mins to see my friend wearing an extra pair of pants he had in his bag covering his arms. Feeling the wind chill on my wet clothing and feeling my body starting to shiver, I ask my friend if he has any extra piece of clothing in his bag. A hand towel was all he had. Trying to maximize the use of limited resources at my disposal, I decided to put the hand towel to use like a mini blanket. This is how we were trying to fight off the wind chill that night.


It's just 1 AM and every minute keeps feeling longer than the last. Who would have thought the biggest adversary while having to spend the night in the forest would have nothing to do with venomous snakes or a leopard stalking us but instead the winds that feel like a godsend on a humid day but turn the tables during the cool night.

At this point I figure my best bet would be to get my blood pumping by moving around instead of sitting in one place. Again you have to excuse me for not thinking straight due to skipping dinner and a being a bit dehydrated, warming up the body at this time will indeed give me short term returns by increasing the muscle activity and ultimately my heart rate but when the sweat will evaporate it will make me colder than when I started.

But that's not what I am thinking so I tell my friend, I am just going to walk around since I can't bear sitting in the wind. With that I turn on the flashlight and walk around to find a spot which is much sheltered from the winds. As I turn around a tree, my flashlight lights up a dozen glowing red eyes on the ground. As I inch closer with my phone, this group disperses rather quickly. This is what I saw.


Unlike butterflies who help pollinate plants and are beneficial to farmers, fruit-piercing moths are a reason for great distress to fruit farmers in many countries. These moths are nocturnal and will use the hardened tip of their proboscis (elongated sucking mouthpart) to pierce the skin of fruits and feed on the fruit juices in the darkness of the night. The punctured skin of the fruit now quickly exposed to the environment, will rot prematurely before the farmer can sell it and ultimately make a dent in the farmer's profits. Their glowing red eyes is how the farmers detect their presence by shining a flashlight in their farms at night.

Below is one of the fruit-piercing moths using its proboscis like an oil derrick to push the proboscis deeper on a piece of banana that was lying on the ground.


On a side note, I cannot emphasize how amazing these proboscis fold and unfold on butterflies and moths. I got to see that first hand (not during the night hike) on this Red Pierrot butterfly during my trip. Observe the proboscis on this butterfly.


Sorry I got distracted there for a moment, coming back to the hike. Well, the good thing about stumbling into this piece of banana is that it is a sign that humans use this trail and looking at how the peel hasn't darkened completely in this weather, it gives clues that the person who threw or dropped it did not do it more than a few days ago. Looking at the tree that was beside this piece of banana, I wonder if this would be a good place to spend the remainder of the night. Resting against the tree trunk would shield us from the winds attacking us from at least one side and maybe make it easier to catch a few winks.

I test it out and this is so much more effective than the exposed area we were previously sleeping in. Brimming with confidence, I walk back and convince my friend to get his backpack and retreat to the new spot that will make it so much easier to spend the night.

Below is the chosen tree.


By the time we settle near the tree trunk it is 2 AM. 4 1/2 more hours with a much more comfortable place, what could go wrong? I think I might have oversold this new location, even though it insulates us from the unrelenting winds from one side, I still feel the wind chill and the trunk does not have an ergonomic back support. Moving around and breaking a sweat while scouting for this new location for a few minutes is not helping my cause either. My friend seems to have better luck dozing off and all I can do is get envious about the ease with which he can fall asleep.

I remember waking up around 3 AM to the loud crowing of a rooster in one of the villages at the base of the hill. This crowing was clearly not to announce the break of dawn but to establish his territory and let the roosters in the neighboring villages know who rules the roost. The successive crowing by other roosters from neighboring villages confirms that suspicion. Every time the round robin of the last rooster completes, the cycle starts again.

This causes my friend to go on a tirade against these roosters and wishing a predator like a fox comes and takes them out of the picture. I sympathize with him since lack of sleep can make you very, very grumpy. Funnily after venting his anger, he falls asleep. I keep my mind occupied by thoughts of what it would feel like taking a warm shower once I go back home, how it would feel to sleep on a soft bed under a blanket and my first hot meal once this long night ends. At least, that is the only thing that can help keep my spirits up at this moment.

Keeping my mind occupied till 5 AM, just when I think we are in the last lap of this night. The night has a final surprise in store for us, a cloudburst. My friend did not anticipate rain during our hike and so we are left with sharing my umbrella while trying our best to keep our electronic devices dry (which are a millennial's equivalent of a new born baby. Please hold it correctly. It makes you smile when you hold it. You can't wait to lift it and keep close to you. Hey Karan! Stop ranting about the strong emotional attachment millennials have to their phones and get back to the story please! Sigh! as you say.)

Sharing the umbrella led our arms and half of our bodies outside the umbrella canopy to get drenched. Taking shelter under a tree during heavy rain might provide some protection from the rain but when our backs are butted against the tree trunk, that tree acts as a water runoff drenching our backs even more. This effectively seals our fate that we will not be eligible for any more sleep for the night.

The rain stops after 45 mins of deluge, but right after the tree starts shedding the water on its leaves thus leaving us with no option but to keep my umbrella open.

This is what the scene looked like when the downpour started.


Soon, the clock strikes 6. Even though it is much brighter, the trail is still not visible beyond 20 feet. So we decide to wait till the conditions are more apt to scale this hill instead of expending precious energy in figuring out the trail. That is when we decide to walk back our steps to the last village starting at 6:30 AM to confirm if this trail is indeed the correct one.

We run into a teenager who is standing close to his field and ask him to show us the way since we are lost and lead us past the point where the trail forks. He readily agrees and starts scaling the hill in his beach sandals while we are cautiously watching our steps wearing sneakers. Trying to keep up with his speed is like a grandparent trying to chase a toddler who just learnt to run a day ago.

Once he leads us past the spot which has caused us confusion, he asks us to blindly follow this trail and not get distracted. We thank him for his services and reward him with the last pack of cookies and chocolate bar (Hey Karan! Maybe you should have kept at least one for this group, since you do not know when you will get to eat next. Too late now!)

This is what the trail looked like in the morning with ample daylight and you could see why we would be confused which trail to stick to even though they end up joining back 20 feet down the road. Also, this trail that villagers take everyday to work is not listed on Google as a hiking trail which explains the confusion from last night.


Having the daylight on my side I could now climb this hill with a renewed sense of vigor. Everything seemed so much easier since my mind was not trying to put puzzles together on which trail to take. I reach the top of the hill i.e. Garbett point in another hour and while waiting for my friend to catch up, kept myself busy capturing some dragonflies.

Here is a Globe Skimmer Dragonfly trying to free itself from my firm grip and showcasing its mandibles. Even though this dragonfly looks innocent enough that it wouldn't hurt a soul, they use those same mandibles to tear the wings of its prey so it can't fly away before eating it. Also, notice the hairy front legs which help to hold on to their prey more effectively.


Here is a slow-motion video of the dragonfly flying away.


Soon, I am joined by my friend at the top of the hill who I reward with the emergency 500 ml water bottle. We make our way through the forest that we were supposed to walk at night.
This is how the trail through the forest looked like. A night walk through this would have been quite an experience, but what we experienced last night was nothing short.


After 40 minutes of walking we emerge on the other side of the forest near a train station. Break our fast by gorging on all the things you are not supposed to eat for breakfast like corn fritters, instant noodles and lemonade. Ask the car to come and pick us up at the nearest train station.

While waiting for the car, we spot these Bonnet Macaques who capitalize on the tourists flocking the area and will threaten, steal or beg for food. Here is a juvenile who has learnt the tricks of the trade at an early age and stole a piece of unripe mango from a kid who dropped it on the ground as soon as the monkey got too close.


While sitting in the car, I realized I never updated my dad on what happened after my call last night and since I had turned off my phone to conserve battery, there was no way for him to contact me. I call him and tell him, I am safe with a story to tell and I am currently making the trip back.

I can't help but doze off in the car followed by a nice, juicy nap on reaching home. That bed never felt so soft before.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Did you learn something new in this post? Let us know in the comments below

Tags

acorns adventure adventures algae alligator american crow ant cricket ants aphids aquatic snails arachnids argentine ants bananas bark beetles barklice barnacles bats beaver bees beetle beetles bird lice birds black-tailed deer bloodworms bristletail bug bugs bumblebee butterflies canada goose cardinal carpenter bees carrots caterpillars cave centipede cockroaches coot corvids court case crawfish crayfish cricket crickets crow crustaceans damselflies death deer diatoms dock dragonflies earwigs eggs egrets elephant seals european starlings eyes ferns fingerprints fishes flea flies floods florida flowers fly freshwater snail frog frogs fundraiser fungus fungus-eating lady beetles galls geckos geese goats goldfinch gophers grasshopper green dock beetle green heron green lacewing guest post gull harvestmen hawks herons hike history honeybees house sparrows india insects isopods jumping bristletails jumping spiders juncos katydid kayak lacewing lady beetles land snails leaf miners leafhopper lice lichens lizard lizards lynx spider maggots Magpie mallow marsh megabats midges mildew millipede mites moles mosquito moths mouse spider nematodes nettles newt newts night nuthatches oaks owl paper wasps parasite part 2 pavement ants pelicans pigeons pill bugs plants pocket gophers pollen pollination pollinators poppy praying mantis pseudopupil pupa quail rabbits roach roadkill rove beetles salamander salmon sandpiper scat scorpion Scorpions sea lions sea otters seals seeds shorebird shrimp silverfish skunk snails snakes social media solifuges sparrows spider spiders springtails squirrel squirrels starlings stilts stinger sun spiders surf scoter swallows tarantula termites thrips ticks towhees trees turkey turkey vulture turtle venom vultures warblers wasps water boatmen webspinners whales wolf spider woodpeckers Wren wrens yellow jackets youtube

Featured Post

The case of the missing grasshopper

Hello folks who wonder if crime does not pay well at least the benefits are hard to dismiss, This case is about Gregory , a band-winged Gras...