On a crisp summer morning, my best friend and I boarded a bus going to Madikeri from Mysore. The excitement of going out of the city on our own was intoxicating. This was our first trip together, that had required cajoling the family and meticulously planning things that would never work out as planned. But we made it to the Mysore city bus stand and that’s when the trip started to feel real. So we sat in the bus and chattered away through the two hours of journey, sharing the highs and lows of life. Well, two 19 year old girls have a lot to talk about it; our fellow passengers could definitely have vouched for that.

I remember the sweet smell of Madikeri; a mix of coffee, south Indian breakfast, and the freshness of a town surrounded by lush green hills was prominent in the air. We got off at a stop near the main market in the town. The market is full of small shops selling assortments of coffee, tea and chocolate grown in the nearby area. But what fascinated us most was, the small peaks of emerald hills that we could see from anywhere in the market.

We quickly found a restaurant to our liking and over a delicious South Indian breakfast of Hot Dosa’s and Coconut Chutney, we went through our plans for the day. We had decided to trek the 4km long Tadiandamol Trek route. Surprisingly, the locals we approached gave us confused looks when we asked them how to reach Tadiandamol. Eventually, with the help of a few people we met by the bus stop and the ever reliable Internet, we figured it out. Once again we embarked on an hour long bus ride to Kakkabe, from where we were lucky enough to find a kind tuk-tuk driver who took us to the starting point of the trek.

We then started our much awaited trek to conquer the highest peak of the Coorg district. Everything we read on the Internet about the beautiful landscapes and breathtaking views, came alive as we walked through those narrow, almost non-existent paths. There is a certain kind of happiness that you feel on being surrounded by nature and its beauty, such elation that cannot be expressed though words, but can only be felt by putting yourself in the midst of nature. And we felt it in us as we walked, hearing nothing but our pounding heart, the sound of our shoes and the buzz of the insects. On finishing half the trek we were blessed with a heavenly view of ever rolling emerald hills that went on till the horizon. We sat there for a few minutes letting the view sink in. It was then that we heard thunder and saw huge dark clouds moving in our direction.

My friend and I only managed to cover half the trek route, as we weren’t prepared for rain. But this trip has stayed with us ever since. The challenge of finding our own way, approaching strangers for help, of putting our city-based lethargic bodies to test, all these experiences, so small yet so crucial, happened to us when we put ourselves out there. We had the best time of our lives out there.

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