Trekking horror!

Six trekkers from Visakhapatnam went in search of heaven; but experienced hell when they lost their way on their expedition.

Simhachalam hill top is a stunningly beautiful place, a piece of heaven on earth. But it’s also where six trekkers went through hell after they lost their way while returning.

On December 31, at 6 am, 20 Visakhapatnam lads went trekking from Seethammadhara hill top to Hanumanthavaka. While 14 members returned safely from there, six others (Venkat, B.V. Sandeep, Dinesh, Chiranjeevi, Suryash and Sandeep) went further for a glimpse of a picturesque beach. A harrowing drama then unfolded after they realised that they had lost their way.

Venkat, one of the six trekkers, recalls, “Someone told us that if we go further right from Hanumanthavaka, we could see a beach with a great view. So we continued our expedition amidst thick bushes, thorns and rocks, (a few of us also got injured and suffered bruises) and we even had to crawl, but we still couldn’t find the scenic spot.”

All hell broke loose after the trekkers decided to return. In their excitement, they seemed to have forgotten the route. Venkat says, “We couldn’t trace the direction on our return because of the bushes, and we realised that we had lost our way. The network was also poor and it was very scary. None of us had any prior experience, and no one had told us anything about trekking either. It was like a life-or-death situation because the area was filled with animals, and we did not even carry a knife or an axe with us.”

Another trekker, Sandeep shares, “It was terrifying because darkness was descending and the trekking path was full of bushes. Since we did not carry any food or water, our energy levels were also low.”

“We went unprepared; none of us knew about trekking and this was our first attempt,” says another member, Dinesh, adding, “We did not carry any marker to create landmarks, which would have made our return journey easy. We were left stranded at an animal-prone zone and were unable to find out the route.” The trekkers eventually got in touch with the local MLA Vishnu Kumar, who in turn alerted the concerned authorities. Eventually, the Indian Navy, civil police and Greyhounds did a joint operation of three hours to rescue the trekkers. “That passage of time was frightening and we were just praying and dying to get back.

Finally, around 4.30 am, Navy choppers reached us and airlifted three members while Greyhounds rescued another three. We were desperate to send messages back home to let our worried families know that we were safe,” explicates B.V. Sandeep.

Dinesh admits that they were unaware about the basic preparations of a trekking expedition. “We didn’t know the dos and don’ts, but after this trip, we have realised that we have to inform family members and police before going on a trek. Also, there should be a guide to avoid taking risks,” he says, while Sandeep suggests, “painkiller spray, spectacles, knife, axe, markers, lighter, water, food, mobile and torch light are a must.”

Describing how the cops reached the isolated location, Dr Fakeerappa Kaginelli, IPS officer and DCP (L&O-1) Visakhapatnam, says, “We first identified the trekkers’ location by tracing their message to the nearest cell tower. Later, we studied the topography of the location and realised that the terrain was dangerous and sloppy. So we went cross country (walking in forest) and identified the location through GPS tracker.” He further shares, “Trekking in Simhachalam hills is not advisable because there’s no cultivation. Also, the trekkers should identify safe entry and exit points and study the topography of the location before embarking on a journey.” Meanwhile, Venkat expressed gratitude to Fakeerappa, who spearheaded the operations. “We are not VIPs or businessmen, and the government need not have sent help in a chopper and taken so much pain to rescue us, but they did. We are forever indebted to him and the Indian Navy,” he says.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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