I had been trying to join this GHAC trek from past many weeks but without any success. It is so popular that it got full even before I could check the meetup notification!!! But finally I got lucky and got seats reserved for Shweta and me.
We boarded Yashwantpur Express from Kachiguda and by the time we woke up, we were in Amaravathi Express. Yes the coach had changed trains, just as wealth changed hands between Kalmadi's stooges!
We were about an hour late when we alighted at Castle Rock. But nobody complained as slight drizzle and misty greens welcomed us. Castle Rock was the last station where there was some population. And for next 24 hours we were not going to get anything edible, and that's why we had our bags loaded with ready to eat stuff like MTR Rice, bread-butter, Thepla, chips, cakes etc. to last for next few meals.
Walking on railway tracks was fun for maybe about half an hour. After that it was trying to find the easy and fast way to walk. Walking on the ballast (the small stones between tracks) was difficult, but walking on the wooden or concrete planks between the tracks was more difficult not only because the soles start aching after some time but also because when you flush in the train you are not thinking about people 'trekking' on the tracks!
But when you have breathtaking surroundings all around you, an unending water supply in form of waterfalls (perfectly potable, just check for small insects) and birds which whistle just like humans you won't complain. To add to the adventure the route is dotted with tunnels which need you to carry dark enough to need torch light and leaky enough to need an umbrella.
We were approaching one such tunnel when we heard a train blow horn. After a few moments there was no sound and after a few moments once again there was a horn. I touched the track and put ear to it, but there was no sign of any train. but Shweta and Anand won't buzz. So I volunteered to go and check in the tunnel and as I proceeded I saw the proverbial lights of approaching train.
In the meantime we had crossed the border and reached Goa!
Karunzol was 7.29 km from Castle Rock and we had our brief lunch comprised of Theplas and MTR Rice. Once again the trek started and now the evening was approaching fast and rain came along. After another 7 km Dudhsagar station appeared but there was no sign of the falls or our camping site. After a very dreary another 1 km,loomed the first sight of Dudhsagar falls! Instant recharge was never so instantaneous! It was about six in the evening and the visibility was poor. We were wet, tired and hungry and were not in the perfect mindframe to enjoy the scenery.
We put up the camps in a small hut (rather a shed!) and after what seemed to be a very long and wet (specially for those who had put up the tent in the verandah of shed. The waterfall seemed to get more aggressive as the night progressed. I could hardly sleep in that cramped tent and got up by 5 as instructed by camp leader. But till 6 it was very dark.
Morning was greeted with much chaos and after a very adventurous wash in a side stream in the fall (we actually climbed up that stream in the fall) we started packing up. Folding up the tents could be accomplished only after reading the instructions amidst war cries that would confuse someone that a wild animal was being tamed!
Shooting near a massive fall like Dudhsagar is always difficult because of strong drizzle created by water falling on rocks. I had first experienced that in Chikmagalore when I visited Abby falls. Those with point and shoot cameras can still manage but with a non-water proof SLR camera you have to be really quick and careful. But I managed take a few quick snaps.
The journey continued to Coolem which was supposed to be 7 km from Dudhsagar. But there proved to be a minor hitch. Coolem was another 8 km from Sonalium, about 4 km from Dudhsagar. So we boarded a train to Coolem, a beautiful town in Goa which had more shops selling liquor than anything else! After a brief but much appreciated hot lunch we took a bus to Londa junction from where we would catch train to Hyderabad.
A special word about the gang. It was as Barney Stinson would say, "Totally awesome".
Travel Summary: To reach Dudhsagar from Hyderabad, take 7603 Kacheguda-Yeshwantpur Express. Get down at Castle Rock station and trek to Dudhsagar. There are no hotels/restaurants in the region so make arrangements for your food/stay (preferably tents). To return you can either trek back to Castle Rock or goto Coolem about 12 km from Dudhsagar. You can also trek 4km to Sonalium and take a train to Coolem. From Coolem you can take bus to Londa and catch 7416 Haripriya Express back to Hyderabad.