Sandhan Valley an off season trek near Mumbai, for some it can be done in One day, or at a very relax and easy pace as a overnight trek. Sandhan Valley is also commonly referred as the valley of shadows or the valley of suspense. For many of who have already been there know why - but for those who came in late (old jungle saying Phantom comics). Most of the trekking in this valley is in shadows and is full descend with regular ups and down around huge boulders.
We started this trek from Kasara - but for ME it was right after my shift. After office hours I was on the first train to Kasara. The whatsapp group created by Ankit Savla had nominated me as the leader of the day. After reading the message my first thought was "with great power comes great responsibility" (Peter Parker - Spiderman movie). Reached Kasara and we had a smallest introduction. A great relief to know 4 members for the team successfully completed Basic Mountaineering Course (phew). Reached Samrad village after a 2 hour drive by local private jeep.
A short nap before a morning wake up call helped to start a brand new day afresh. Breakfast was the usual with Poha and Tea. As we got ready for the small excursion, there was lots of background work being done - equipment, food, assistance, dry ration, menu etc?
We started out trek at around 08:15 am - what a way to begin with the view of the mighty AMK, Alang, Madan, Kulung, Ratangad was inspiring. Yes I made a promise to scale AMK the most difficult climb in the Sahyadri before this year end. We had not yet entered the valley and there was small prick in my shoe: did try to ignore it however could not for a long time. So I sat down BAU (business as usual) and removed a thorn that was pricing me.
Ledge walking This is an awesome way to begin our trek, Ledge walking if you miss then stamp in the water and your shoes are wet. If are able to keep up and use your toes then you shall be rewarded and be victorious. This initial excitement was a Kick which helps to complete trek to Sandhan Valley. Slowly and steadily we marched together as team clearing the water walk. There is a small section that is filled with water around 15ft. So we removed our shoes and stepped on this cold water walk. Our feet washed ON wards we move and the small fishes in the water clean your feet of the dirt. As we navigated huge boulders there is an amazing view that encompass us. The entire valley seems so different at different angles and at different times. With all the effort required on a full descend trek we wonder what it would be had it been a uphill trek in the Summer of 2015.
Finally we reached out first mark. Rappelling down 40ft approx. Rajesh gave a small demonstration about the basics of Rappelling before the team started to descend down one after the other. Time was precious like any other trek - as now Rajesh was also assisting another group since there did not have the required expertise to Rappel down. Our team continued to move forward clearing the "S" rock slide successfully. Descending slowly we reached a spot where the only way forward if you were tall to wriggle or else crawl though. A little rock climbing is required here say 4 steps and you need to maintain your body weight by hand holds. We decided to take some rest as were already well ahead of time. Thou the participants were requested to carry pack lunch for the day. I am sure there had not anticipated such an activity. "SUPRISE" Had requested the villager from the base village to pack us something to eat like few chapatti and one cooked vegetable. To our surprise this good man had packed exactly 2 chapattis for each one of us and awesome potato and groundnut vegetable. The size o f each roi much be twice the size that we make here in the city of Mumbai. Believe it or not the taste was awesome, the venue was superb and the people who shared this menu were FANTABOLOUS (Fantastic + Marvellous).
Post lunch break we were are charged up and ready for our march further, but our fears were put to test. The last rock climbing patch 20Ft was calling. Even this was overcome by the team with much ease and enthu. At this point we all rejoiced in a small way Sandhan Valley was conquered. Walking gradually toward the valley exit, the size of the bolder now growing smaller. Our presence was met with a warm welcome scree shower by local Rhesus Makah (monkeys). They seem to say intruders were not allowed Sandhan Valley is a scared place. Seeing us drop and not making any movement or create or destroy even they let the warriors of Sandhan Valley full descend rest for the night. We all sat at this water source - Yes the May 2015 summer time and it was clear cold water running. This water then empties into a bigger open water tank (no suitable for drinking). Our local guide and his friend got to business straight away. Tea for some but that is my poison. As we waited to see feel the Sun set behind the mountain ridge. And this is that time where you have nothing to do but wait for the night to absorb you completely. As if time has slowed down and we were waiting for life to happen. All this while Rajesh was renamed RAMESH and from Ramesh we had Suresh born. Ramesh and Suresh from the Cadbury advt selling a 5star bar. Each one of us trying to remember the best advt or the latest of Ramesh and Suresh series. Also Ramesh and Suresh with "Pitaji ki patnool ek blanch chooti kar do". We spoke about Airlines and how there treat passenger from KLM, JET, Spice Jet, Air India, United Airlines and the difference between Business Class traveller and Economic class traveller. It was so entertaining and enriching.
Before daylight ends we pitched up a tent, as one small cloud was seen hovering above us and we wanted to be prepared (tent stay was not a part of the itinerary). Tent was pitched at nice spot on high ground close to dinning area and water. As only four could fit in the tent at least the rest could sleep around it. Only two of us decided to sleep in the tent. The rest wanted to sleep out in the open. The 2nd Surprise came just then, hot and sour soup. But be rest assured whenever we shall have hot and sour soup for the rest of our lives it shall always be compared to this overnight trek to Sandhan Valley. It tickled the right taste buds for sure and everyone did take a second helping (yummy). The best was yet to come our guide did an awesome work with dinner, Curd curry, rice, vegetable, roti, tehcha (smashed green chillies) and pickle. It was a celebration after the conquest of Sandhan Valley and the gods were happy. Googly was that I had forgotten by sleeping gear. And not wanting to put others who had done their home work of carrying bed sheets - slept on the bare ground. But the rain Gods had other plans, and soon it started to rain. We gathered out things, bags, shoes, sleeping bag, all in the tent. Once in it was a EUREKA moment - it was 01:30 am and its Priya's birthday. We all sang happy birthday for her in the tent. Soon the weather cleared and we moved out letting the birthday girl be in the tent. And continue with our sleep from where we had left it.
Priya’s birthday morning was awesome, maggie and black tea and some chapattis for breakfast. We started our final march to Dehna village, a good 3 hours walk on flat level laden with delicious black wild berries (karwandas) and mangiferaindica (mangoes). One reaching the village we had some more birthday celebrations, played with the local village children, clicked photos and slefies and Groupies with them. Had lunch 3 course and then departed from Mumbai via Asangoan.
Highlights: BMC, serve among equals, overnight, Sandhan Valley, Valley of Suspense, Valley of Shadows, rappelling, rock-climbing, full descend, bucket list, best birthday, Happy, black tea. New friends, superb memories, awesome participants.