AMK trek blog – the toughest in Sahyadri

At the age of 35 years when most iconic sportsmen retire, some leaving behind a legacy some to explore new avenues. Maybe not everyone can be Amitabh ji who still acts with same enthusiasm and passion ever since he started acting in movies. But for a mountaineer there is no age I guess. As we live young, we live free (#Mahindra). It had been close to two years of selling a commercial trekking activity to AMK specifically on 25 Dec each year. But for some reason my call to Alang fort, Madan fort and Kulang fort (AMK) came after 34 years. Over the years meeting people from the trekking community fueled my desire with every passing day to trek the toughest trek in Maharashtra. As if completing the Great Lakes trek in Kashmir had not quenched my thirst for trekking.

The wait was over on Christmas Eve of 2016. The conditions were right, everything seem to be as per his plan (Almighty). The events date had always been my biggest worry. As over the years mostly the events started on Thursday night and ended on Sunday evening. With no access to a Masjid for Friday Namaz which happens at around 13:00 after the congregation. Skipping Friday (Juma) Namaz was not an option.

The date for this trek to AMK was leaving on Friday night. Returning on Monday night seems perfect. Thou with new age trekking enthusiasts and groups organising trekking started to offer a two day trek to AMK seemed not my type. Hence I took a Monday work off to ensure all systems are in place for a smooth ride.

We all assembled at Kasara railways station on 24 Dec morning at 01:30 am. Slowly the group started to form and we became aquatinted with each other. Over here we met Ivana Crici who was from Serbia and was travelling and exploring India. Who had done a lot of trekking abroad but was trekking for the first time in India. After we all introduced ourselves our trek leader informed us that we will need to wait as Sanjeev had missed the train and will be coming in some time. In over 3 years of trekking with Sanjeev Sharma I was glad to oblige, as it was for the first time he was delayed for a rendezvous of an event.

Our chariot from Kasara to AMK base village was none other than a TRAX jeep with Anand as our driver. With non-stop chatter and catching up with Sanjeev the distance and time both flew fast. In two hours of driving into the wildness of the night we arrived at the base village where ‘Vithal’ one of the local village gave us his house rest for a few hours before the start of the trek in the morning.

The morning breakfast was the usual yellow poha (the poha girl at Tadobha crossed my mind) and extra sweet tea. In a way everyone in the group was first timer at AMK. Soon the easy flat walk started to turn into a 45 degree climb. For some reason I was the last man climbing. Our local guides made us aware about a panther in these dense jungle and honey bees once we reach higher ground. This was enough to send some chills down my spine as I had not received any training to handle a panther when attacked. Slowly and steadily we reached the col. between Alang fort and Madan fort at around 10:45 am. We decided to leave our bags in the cave here and just take some water with our lunch and climb Kulang fort. Criss-Crossing slowly now with a smaller bag pack we ridge walked along dense Karvi plantation with some Karvi buds still yet to open, some half opened (My mind raced ahead with thoughts of the long wait for 8 years has begun for the Kari flowers to bloom again).

What really makes AMK tuff is the technical expertise required on this trek. With long pitch rock climbing at Alang fort and Madan fort it is important to carry good quality equipment which include, mi-tons, helmet and seat harness. And the full exposes steps at Madan is a treat.

Once at Kulang cave we gather to relish some awesome home cooked delicacy to make it one of the most awesome lunch of our lives. We quickly descended after refilling our water bottle from the water tank on Kulang fort and our heart filled view of Alang fort top.
Next up was even a tougher challenge, Alang fort with a straight 90 degree long pitch wall made me forget my basic rock climbing lesson. Once on top near the all expose staircase we used fixed rope to climb further up. Except Ivana who choose to sleep in her tent we all used the caves for our night stay. With a breath-taking view during sunset and some amazing photo ops of Silhouette images dinner had to be made. Wasting no time our local guide began preparations in fast fading daylight. With dinner under a million starts and new mountain friends it was a magical experience. It rightly said there was not network on our phones but we connected better. The weather had started to get cooler with the feeling of Christmas Eve setting in. Except that there was no snow and carol singing. It was enough for the queen of Serbia (Ivana) to pull out her fleece jacket.

We had covered two forts (Alang and Kulang) on day one. As the plan for the next day was to reach our third fort Madan before the day temperature starts raising. As our local guide suggested it was the season for bee hive collectors and the afternoon sun really disturbs the honey bees the most. Soon enough we reached the col. between Madan fort and Kulang fort from here we took the left diversion. But ensured that we covered ourselves with our sleeping bag and made a secret vow to not speak loudly for the next 45 mins, also not react by screaming / panicking if attached by even a single honey bee. Descend of 200ft from Alang fort towards Madan fort on AMK trek has a mud patch which is supper scary. There is no point in rushing no matter how fast the other members in the group are going. I would suggest if as a trekker you do not have confidence to on this mud patch which has a lot of scree then please ask your trek leader to attach a fixed rope which will help for sure.

A two hour trek in dense Karvi forest, walking thru a few spiders webs and scaring a tunnel wood spider as we trekked to reach the stair ware to the Madan fort. It is advisable to carry a few dry sticks from the base of Madan fort if you plan to stay overnight here and cook dinner. Trekking this route reminded me of the Great Lakes Trek that I had done in Aug where we had to cross walking / hoping on boulders and rock as seen in Sandhan valley. As there are no trees on this fort to provide wood for fire. Exploring the fort did not take a lot of time and with permission from the trek leader I descended Madan fort in the afternoon while the rest of the group stayed back to enjoy one night in the wilderness.

AMK trek summary:
Date: 24 – 25 – 26 Dec 2016
Difficulty Level: Tuff and Technical
Endurance Level: High
Food Arrangement: Carry raw preparations and utensils as trekkers do cook dinner near Alang caves
Transport: Hire a shared cab from Kasara railways station. State transport buses also available.
Height of forts: 4852 – 4841 – 4822 ft
Base Village: Kulanwadi
District: Nashik
Region: Igatpuri – Kalsubai
Route from Pune: Pune – Nashik phata – Naarayangoan – Kotul – Udadhawane – Alang
Route from Mumbai: Mumbai – Kasara – Sakurli – Ambewadi – Alang
Distance from Mumbai: 150 km approx.
Distance from Pune: 185 km approx.
Total time required for climbing
Total distance for climbing: Average 5 km on each day if done as a 3 day event.
Additional Info: Carry some ready to eat food and 2 lits water at all times
Caution: Trek route from Alang fort to Madan fort has honey bee hives. Carry a first aid kit at all times.

Highlights:
– Toughest trek in Maharashtra
– AMK trek
– First time late
– Jinx boken
– Sleeping in a cave.
– Christmas day trek
– Strong year end trekking activity closing.
– New friends
– Bucket list trek

Tag: #AMK #Toughesttrek #trek #trekking #shayadari #Alangfort #Madanfort #Kulangfort #chalnikalpade #Caves #starwatching #technicaltrek #GreatLakesTrek #SandhanValley #Kashmir

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