You’ve been Tango’d
Guest blog by Doug Meehan
As Phase Three projects teams deployed to site I joined Tango 6 for an eagerly anticipated seven day loop visit.
After a five hour drive to Kerala we met our local guide Nidhin and began with a beautiful four hour trek through tea plantations and up into the first of what would be many hills. Perched on a hillside we camped for the night with stunning views of forests and valleys below us. The team spent the first night getting to know each other, getting used to trek life/cooking and being entertained as Hubertus did a little dance for the group, sending tea cups flying, when a ‘mouse’ crawled up his shirt.
Early mornings, and so early bed times, are the way of life for trek and so after a slightly questionable/lukewarm breakfast of porridge prepared by myself we set off as the sun rose for a full day of walking. After reaching a forest watch tower that would be our camp for the night we carried on to climb an adjacent peak and enjoyed paddling in Heaven Lake.
Every day is a big day in the Tango groups and day three involved the approach to Amba (the highest peak we would summit) and entry into leach country. We also had our first taste of trekking through primary forest, which required an additional forest guide as the area has restricted access, which gave us all the feeling we were treading in David Attenborough’s footsteps. In the evening we were able to wash away the aches (and smells) in a stunning valley stream.
Climbing up the steep valley sides on the lower slopes of Amba we walked in silence as the guides listened for elephants and buffalo. After a few gruelling hours in thick forest we emerged onto the grassy upper slopes of the mountain and promptly all collapsed into a heap to catch our breath. With just a few metres to the summit George was keen to get us up to the top which we were all extremely grateful for when the forest guide called us to come and watch a family of seven elephants grazing just 50 metres away. After a lunch spent watching the family we descended the mountain. The journey down was extended by a detour to avoid elephants however spirits were not affected and we finished a hard 20km days trek as the night set in – hardened trekkers.
The following day was a rest day which we spent building bamboo rafts and punting down river. The calm and civil ride quickly descended into open warfare as trek leader Olly started boarding other rafts to soak their crew.
Following on from that we had another day’s break from trekking as we cycled 40km to the second range of mountains the group were to climb. We had a fantastic day cycling up and down winding mountain roads, and enjoyed the chance eat beef fry and Porota, a local treat available in Catholic areas of Kerala.
On my final day with Tango 6 we put our walking boots back on as we took in a scenic trek through forest ringing the second highest reservoir in Asia. During the day we had another encounter with elephants as we listened to their growls and trumpet calls further down the valley. In the evening as we washed in mountain rock pools the Raleigh car arrived with Del, field base DPM, who has now taken my place with the team. Keep an eye on the blog for his update when he returns in a week.
Messages from the team:
From Shanelle Ward - To Ian Ward: I finally got your letter! So good to hear from you... I got Dylan’s quite a few days ago which was also wonderful. I love you lots and lots and can’t wait to see you in a couple of weeks xxx
From Kim Delamare - To Ray Delamare: I love you daddy, thank you for your messages, I always think of you, and I get them regularly. Love to home, Happy Birthday to the Michaels! Xxx
From Kim Delamare - To Julie Delamare: Thank you for my messages. I love to know you’re thinking of me. Trek is very exciting, I love it! Love to everyone! Xxx
From Fiona Marchbank - To ???: Loving trek so far, although really tough going. I fall over at least five times a day and we are constantly pulling leaches off of each other! It all adds to the fun though and the group are really good. Hope everyone is enjoying their mince pies! Speak in a couple of weeks. Xxx
From Lynne Cooper - To The Fulks Family & Friends: Folks: Having a great time on Tango 6, body is still holding out! Saw elephants from about 50-75m away in the wild, rafted, mountain biked – it’s all good! Really looking forward to coming home to work Ha Ha! See you all very soon now, Lynney xx
From Lynne Cooper – To Polly and Polly: Love you – Miss you, Doug and Del aren’t the same as you, trek buddies. P.s. I’ll remember to do comms slowly!
From Lovely Luke - To Polly and Polly: I think about you every day, Trekking has been tough but the thought of our final few days in fieldbase together gets me through. Love you always – The Doctor xx
From Natalie Gordon– To Family and friends: Hey everyone! I’m having so much fun out here in Keralath Dec, once I have finished trekking. Back on the 21st, can’t wait to see everyone at home and have a huge catch up session! Sending my love and best wishes to you all, Natalie xxx
From Rosie Ward – To all Family and friends who send Birthday messages: Hi Everyone! Ma I got your 6th letter and birthday letter, thank you. SisI can’t wait to see you at the airport, thanks for the message and lovely letter. Girls thank you for your beautiful birthday card, I loved opening that early on my birthday morning. Dad, thank you for my blog message, please tell Granny and Norma that I got their letters and thanks you. It was so nice today, I got seven letters and 3 blogs. Everyone I had an amazing birthday, trekking is pretty tough and my birthday followed one of the toughest days of my life, trekked over 20km of tough terrain and saw elephants and got to stay in house rather than camp. On the 1st we built bamboo rafts and punted downstream – I had a go! In the evening we had a surprise home cooked Indian meal and then a huge cake with flowers and writing on it. I had presents and messages from friends and we played pass the parcel and musical statues. Didn’t feel completely like a real b’day without friends and family but it was a great day and we can celebrate on my return. Love you all, xxx