Hustle through the drizzle

Day 2 – Saturday, June 4

I heard a strange noise. But wait, I’d heard it before. The vibrations brought my senses back. I realized that the alarm was ringing, and was in no mood to wake up. I remember the last night very well. I couldn’t sleep quickly. I kept thinking about where to head to the next day. I had quite a few choices confusing me. There was also a power cut to which I woke up in the middle. After all that disturbance through the night, I wanted a little more rest to tackle the long highway ahead. I snoozed the alarm for another half hour and finally got out of the bed.

I realized that I’d switched off the phone last night. I like the way my phone’s alarm still works when it’s switched off. I wanted to avoid all the calls I was going to get in the middle of the night. It wasn’t a great thing to do after all; switching off the phone when someone wants to wish you on your birthday. But I had a ride that was more important. This wasn’t one of my usual rides and I was under pressure to do stuff, which normally doesn’t happen during my leisure rides.

My previous day had been pretty smooth, except for the fact that I couldn’t publish my blog. I had written down the entire story and I’d processed all the pictures, but the internet at Yelagiri was extremely poor and I gave up after a few tries. I found it more sensible to postpone the publishing to the next day rather than wasting time on it and killing my sleep.

Dawn, from atop Yelagiri

I packed the saddle and was on the move by 5 AM. I saw securities outside buildings still busy at work. I was pretty gentle with the throttle as I slowly slipped out of the sleeping town. A couple of turns ahead, I saw very few streaks of the sun coming out. Practically people still call this the night. Having gazed at skies quite a few times before the sun, I could actually make the difference. I knew I had about 30 minutes before I was going to see things without the headlight. My heart skipped a beat while I saw shiny planet just around the hill. I wasn’t pretty sure which planet this was, and kept moving on slowly to get a better view of it. Eventually I’d travelled too much around the hill losing sight of the planet, but being able to see the well lit towns at the foot hills. I had a choice to make; either the planet, or the town lights. I remembered the sky gazing at Yelagiri not more than a month ago and thought that the town lights were a better choice.

The town of Vaniyambadi as seen from atop Yelagiri

Deep blue sky

I picked a nice spot near a hair pin bend from where I could see almost the entire town of Vaniyambadi. Setting up the camera on the pod, I set the timers and went in for a trial shot. I was taken aback by the nice shade of blue I’d captured; yet another moment, when I felt justified for my purchase of the wide angle lens. Excited, I went around clicking the different parts of the sky I could see from there. I was way too tempted to stick to that spot for a while, but the placed I had to reach by the evening forced me to move on.

By the time I reached the foot hills, it was well lit and before I knew, I was back on the highway, cruising comfortably around 120 kmph. While I was overtaking every other vehicle on the road and making my way like a king, I noticed a slow moving truck ahead from which the driver’s hand was stuck out for a long time. For a moment I thought he wanted to come to the right, but there was no need since there was no other vehicle around. As I went near, I realized that the hand was holding a tooth brush and then, I predicted what was about to happen. I didn’t have to do much. My reflexes held on the brakes, balanced well and moved away from the truck. Moments later, a spray of white liquid came out of the driver’s window; happens only in India!

Grinning, I made my way past Krishnagiri. Since I had to find a spot to publish my previous day’s blog, I thought the Krishnagiri Dam might be a pretty good place, especially so early in the morning around 6 AM. I went around the Dam prying the area for a sweet spot. Clicking pictures of the beautiful architectural creation, I finally settled down very close to the Dam wall. I opened my laptop to check the speed only to realize that Reliance had no tower and BSNL was on GPRS mode. I could have considered the small detour a waste of time, but the pictures justified the change of plan.

KRP Dam, Krishnagiri

KRP Dam, Krishnagiri

KRP Dam HotSpot – No signal

Riding out of the Dam, I was weighing my chances of a good signal at Dharmapuri, but I would be wasting time if I was out of luck. I decided to keep moving to Salem where the chances were pretty high. I reached the place in slightly more than an hour from the Dam. I headed straight to a fuel stop. Luckily there was an ATM in the fuel station. I parked my bike close to it and setup my laptop. I had pretty good coverage and started working on publishing my previous day’s blog. It took me about an hour, to update the content, link the pictures, proof read it a couple of times and then publicize them on Facebook. I chose to avoid the mailers for the day since I was lacking time.

Settled down outside an ATM to publish the previous day’s blog

Moved in when the sun was up

Back on track, I was riding in peace. The activity lingering in my mind was finally complete. But now, new things came up. My tummy started growling. I was heading to the Queen of Hills, which was still 5 hours away from where I was. I kept looking for a food joint where I could have an eye on the bike as I had my food. I passed a couple of them, but the parking was far away from where the food was served. Finally I settled down at a small joint and ordered for a simple breakfast. While was food was getting ready, I called up my friend for advice on the best way to avoid the highway construction before the foot hills.

Bhavani River

Nearing the hills

Every now and then, while I stopped, I had missed calls and messages in my phone. Obviously, it was my birthday but I had no such feeling. It was probably the worst thing I could have done, but the least I managed to do was respond with a delayed thank you note.

The construction on the highway slowed me down and was also testing my patience a little. The roads were being worked on took me a while to get out of there and reach the road to the foot hill. The weather was now changing. The smell of wet mud was all over. I couldn’t feel the heat of the sun anymore. I was just about to experience complete change of climate. With every turn the hills were getting visible. There was a white patch right above the hills that completely covered the peaks. I was assured it was going to become a rain ride very soon.

Mettupalayam River

Is that route shorter up the hill?

I pulled over and geared up in my rain gear. Now I felt the sultry feeling with multiple layers of clothing over my skin with the last layer completely not breathable. It took me a few minutes of constant riding to get some air circulating between the layers. The problem with the rain coat is that it doesn’t let water from outside in and vice versa. So it takes a lot of effort to position the torso to let air through the gear.

Enroute the ascent, while it drizzled making it harder to ride as well as take pictures

Enroute the ascent, while it drizzled making it harder to ride as well as take pictures

I was getting worried a little since I had to get the written permission from Forest Office up the hill. I had reached out to him earlier requesting permission to visit a few off beat locations in the middle of the jungle which was far from human inhabitation.

Just like I suspected, it started drizzling right at the foot hills. I didn’t like this way of riding much for the fact that I couldn’t take out my camera and shoot at my will. I was carrying an umbrella for the worst case situation where it might rain heavily and I still need to capture something. After a few kms through the ascent, the drizzling became heavier and it started pretty well. I was restricted to very few pictures through the ascent, especially when I could find a small shelter or the rain subsided a little.

Enroute the ascent, while it drizzled making it harder to ride as well as take pictures

Enroute the ascent, while it drizzled making it harder to ride as well as take pictures

Once I reached the top, I headed straight to Eastwood Colony, where the DFO’s office is. Swiftly moving through the traffic, I reached the office only to find that the DFO was not available on the weekend. I wasn’t sure why they’d not mentioned this to me before and was completely clueless on what to do next. My plan went for a toss and I’d already spent a lot of time coming up the hill targeting those spots for sunset.

Almost up the hill

I sat down and calmed myself a bit and thought through the different places I’d already been to. I had about 5 hours left before the sun would go down. I decided to make it to the meadows to settle down and write my blog. I picked up lunch on the way and proceeded towards another route that descends from the Queen of Hills on the other side. This scenic route was a popular pick for a lot of movie makers quite a while ago. After having seen them on multiple movies, they evolved into sightseeing spots. However, only very few of those spots are infested by the public. There are quite a lot of places where one can get the bike into the meadows.

On the way to the lost meadow

Passing to tall trees

Since I knew the place fairly well, I planned about an hour to get there, an hour to get into the meadows and settle down, couple of hours or slightly more to blog and then pack and return. I reached the place as planned, but the climate was getting worse by the minute. I was still contemplating on what to do. On one side, the thought of having come all the way was pushing me to get in; especially with the temptation of sitting in a tent in the meadows while it’s raining outside. On the other side, it was going to be too slippery on the grass and muddy patches on the uphill slope. With the rain becoming heavier, help was going to be even more difficult.

I made my choice; I went in.

The initial drop into the meadows was easy to get in. I targeted to cross a couple of hills and settle down on a peak that looked interested from where I presently was. During the first ascent, I travelled along the slope and the bike was slipping was too much. I had to stop at some point, and slowly reposition the bike to point directly uphill. One step after the other I slowly brought the bike backwards and back to the bottom of the slope. I decided to give this a couple of more shots. This time I went directly against the slope. I also approached it with a little bit of speed and this time I was almost at the top, but wasn’t there yet. The bike couldn’t make it, so I had to get off the bike and push it up. I was glad I took it there without dropping it. The Ninja is a bad choice for a drop! I’d learnt the trick and tried on the slopes ahead and finally reached the spot that I wanted to head to.

I started unpacking the tent but, the rain was too heavy and the wind was blowing hard. I found it extremely difficult to even lay down the tent with the ends flying without control. By the time I could nail down the ends, the porous cover of the tent had already let a lot of water inside. Without wasting much time, I took the rain cover and attached it to the hooks. I’d only laid down the tent; not raised it, and I was already panting for breath. I questioned myself if I was going to get this at all. I gave it a minute’s thought and decided to give this another 15 minutes. If it wasn’t going to happen by then, I was going to head back.

I struggled hard to get one diagonal edge stand up. With the weight of the water on the rain cover, it made the task extremely difficult. The wind occasionally pulled out the rain cover and made me run around for it. With the rain coat on me, water was still seeping inside and I could feel my jacket getting wet. I was getting worked up. I finally got one edge up, but there was one more remaining. It was promising, but I’d almost crossed the 15 minute limit. The second edge wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was up in a jiffy. My happiness and sense of accomplishment was slowly coming back. The tent was in place. All I had to do was to drill down the nails harder so they wouldn’t relocate with the winds.


Cozy inside. Heaven outside. That’s the birthday sandwich.




I removed the camera bag and entered the tent with a big grin on my face. I wiped the water inside the tent with a piece of cloth. It was still wet, but I could manage. I removed the sandwich from the bag and placed in front of me, getting ready for the big meal. I pulled over the piece of cloth that serves as an entry to the tent so that I had the complete view of God’s creation right in front of me.

It’s my birthday and it had to be treated well. Right there, I sat in the middle of rainy meadows inside a tent, and munching the sandwiches. What a feeling! Just after the meal, I got back to my trip log for the day. I wanted to enjoy the nature outside, but time for the log was also limited. I wrote as much as I could until sunset and waited for the right opportunity to pack the tent. I had thoughts of staying up, but the wind was becoming heavier and might become risky through the night. I headed back into the town in search of shelter.

Heading back to the town

Heading back to the town

What a day; one of the birthdays that I will never forget.

Ride Stats

Route: Yelagiri – Krishinigiri – Ooty- Hustle through the drizzle
Distance: 397 kms
Ride Time: 7 hrs, 15 mins
Trek Time: 30 mins

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