OxFam Trail Recce – walking through Tamhini hills and around Mulshi lake

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This weekend three of the “Walking Souls” team – myself, Gautam and Swati – went to recce the trail that we are to follow during the 100km OxFam walkathon in November. We drove down to the starting point via Kolad, from where we took the road going towards Pune – a narrow single lane road that leads up to the Tamhini ghat, where our trail starts at a location called Garudmachi.

This is the actual trail:

A large part of the actual trail is off-road. However, for the recce we followed the general direction of the trail but stuck to roads, just to get a feeling of the terrain and the gradients involved.

We started from Garudmachi – Management Development Center (MDC) and then followed the roads along the actual trail without taking any off-road routes. But even the road itself was really beautiful – passing through thickly wooded forest areas in several places

I had taken my cycle along, with the idea that we can try some of the off-road sections. I did manage to do a short off-road stretch and enjoyed it – then followed the normal road till we reached the village of Pimpri. As you can see, the weather was fabulous! Even though it was sunny, there were lots of cloud cover and it was not very hot.

We reached the village of Pimpri, where we took a break to drink water and chat with the villagers. The water they gave us was cool and fresh. The only occupation in the village is farming, and they can only grow rice. So all other food stuff needs to be bought from elsewhere

We continued walking ahead from Pimpri, enjoying the weather and the fresh air away from the heat and grime of the city

As we walked, the sky started filling up with clouds, and we could feel some light rain

“Haldi-Kunku” is how Swati described this picture. Haldi is turmeric (yellow) and Kunku is vermillion (red) :)

We soon caught sight of Mulshi lake reflecting the blue sky in the waters

The sky was filling up with clouds, and the sun shining behind them made their silver linings really resplendent!

Around mid-way through the trail, at Ambavane-Nangaon, we located the school where OxFam has made arrangements for participants to rest for the night. The school is a project under the aegis of SAMPARC (Social Action for Manpower Creation) that supports 200 orphan and needy children, with great facilities including a full sized football ground, computer classes, soon to start English medium education, and a well kept dormitory and mess.

The warden of the dormitory was kind enough to invite us for tea and biscuits, and told us how the school has made a great impact on the lives of children and their families around

We drove the rest of the way enjoying the show put up by the sun, clouds and rain, winding our way through narrow roads passing through small villages till we emerged on to the well kept roads of Amby Valley, and then to Lonavala.

We were quite satisfied with the recce and were now quite comfortable with what to expect on the actual day. On the one hand, the terrain was really beautiful and scenic. On the other, the distance is not small – 100 km seems like a long long way, and we are hoping we can manage to cover the entire distance in the 48 hours!

Looking forward to an exciting walkathon!

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