I have mentioned about the ‘Early Birds of Ponda Pool’ in some of my older posts. This is my swimming group, at least a few from which I meet every day in the swimming pool. We became a group and named ourselves Early Birds (early fishes would have been appropriate) after we found most of us being present in the pool for the first batch at 6 am over a period of time. Casual acquaintance and a cheery ‘Good morning’ before jumping in paved way for exchange of pleasantries and small talk while catching breath at the shallow end and later turned into friendship, followed by development of some sort of a bond. Most of the members learnt to swim in this pool and have continued swimming. Almost all are now experienced swimmers. I mean experienced in swimming in a pool. We are of different age groups, different professions, habits and interests but we gel well. As a result, we now find ourselves spending more time at the shallow end discussing the affairs of the world or poking fun at each other, than swimming in the deep.
During February 2012, just out of a whim, the group decided to go on a day trip to the Dudhsagar waterfalls which involved a trek of about twenty five kilometers to and fro (My post ‘Trek to remember’ - Feb 2012). Many missed swimming for the next week but the trek was a hit. After the trek some felt that we need something milder - I mean milder on the limbs but stronger on spirits - and it was decided that we meet to celebrate a combined birthday of some members. The hardest task here was lifting the glass till the lips and obviously it was a bigger hit. So now it is almost a tradition that we have few birthday parties (birthdays are combined and celebrated 2-3 months apart - giving enough time to get over the hangover) followed by an outing. We have had successful treks to the Tamdisurla falls - Ten kilometers up and down, crossing streams and avoiding leeches, the Mainapi falls - another ten kilometers but which felt like a hundred because of steep climbing up and down the hills, a night out in the Molem forest camp - where members saw their own wild side when in senses and wild animals when they were ‘OUT’, Scuba diving in Malvan coast in Maharashtra and a visit to ‘Yana’ in Karnataka. I missed and regret having missed the last two and have no first hand info about them.
Now, last week some of the members again felt stagnated and looked around for a suitable outing. White Water Rafting on the Mhadei river, in Sattari, Goa, caught their fancy. Mr Kurtarkar, having experienced it once, turned out to be the organizer, guide and coach. After hearing about his rafting experience many members felt that they need fortifications before embarking up on a hazardous task and it was decided that we halt overnight in the dormitory of the Bondla wild life sanctuary, which is on the way, and use it as a ‘Watering hole’.
Saturday night (26th July 2014) saw us at the watering hole with enough stock of ‘water’ which lasted till 1 am. Those who were dry the early morning on Sunday, went for a walk in the sanctuary and were rewarded by sighting of herds of deer.
|A forest stream active during rains.|
|A herd of deer crossed our path here but this is all I got in my camera.|
When we returned, we found the others enjoying a hearty breakfast of ‘Pav’ and fried eggs and we eagerly joined the breakfasters.
The instructions from the rafting operators said that we should assemble at the designated place near Valpoi town by 10 am and we were there by half past nine.
The group had second thoughts when asked to sign an indemnity bond clearing the rafting operators and the Goa tourism development corporation of liabilities in case of damage to limbs or life. But having come thus far, we could not turn back and being a swimming group we were not prepared to lose face in front of many others who did not even know to swim and probably saw water only in their bathrooms and on their dining tables. We signed the bond, refused to order for food on return (after signing the bond we were not sure how many of us would return and did not want to waste food!) and bravely occupied our seats in the van which had arrived to take us to the starting point.
As it turned out, the rafting was a great experience without any real hazard. We covered a distance of about nine kilometers in about fifty minutes and we enjoyed every minute. I think the pictures explain the rafting and the excitement better and hence I will stop my narration here and leave it to the pictures.
|On the path leading down to the river. Bravery in the stance and butterflies in the stomach.|
|Testing the waters|
|Now testing the raft.|
|Ready for action. Controller Hari Upadhyaya urges the group on.|
|Heading for the first rapids.|
|Right in the rapids. " Forward paddle everybody"|
|Well done. That was great.|
|Two from our group got separated for logistic reasons. Catching up with friends.|
|Calm stretch, mild drizzle. The picturesque Mhadei river flowing through the Mhadei wild life sanctuary.|
|Soaking wet but back in one piece.|
|Posing for a group photograph with the brain and muscle behind Goa river rafting - John pollard.|