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Old 20th January 2009, 01:41   #1
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Cool My first Recce

I finally got to do my first offroading recce! For the uninitiated, recce is the short form for reconnoitering. In the offroading parlance, this is the activity where one scouts for potential offroading spots. Since I always have to drive 200+ Kms for the closest offroading event, I figured it would be nice to find something within 100Kms of my home. Besides, offroading nuts are always looking for new spots.

Last week I was talking to my wifeís cousin Hariprasad (Hari) who is an adventure guide and the topic turned to offroading. While we were on the topic, I expressed my wish to find some local offroading spot. Since he has extensive knowledge of all kind of hidden nature spots in all kind of places, he immediately offered to take me around to couple of places in the weekend.

The first place we visited was a private forest consisting of few hundred acres of hilly forest land. Don't ask me for the exact location, I am not supposed to reveal it until we obtain permission from the owner. We asked couple of local drivers to guide us through the forest and they immediately jumped on the back and led us forward.

Our Hilly destination looming in front of us.

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And we are all set for the wild ride.

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First water challenge, now looks mild, but is quite challenging during monsoon.

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It immediately is followed by another longer water challenge, dry right now.

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If you are a little confused right now, this recce is for the monsoon season. So donít judge by current conditions. We have to extrapolate the monsoon conditions looking at this terrain.

Soon we enter the wooded terrain and it gets really awesome. I switched to 3 low and was able to travel the entire stretch in that gear carrying 4 adults and with no visible effort.

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The inclines were often varying between 20-35 degree and the CJ340 finally showed me why it called the mountain goat. Who says it is underpowered, it has got all the power and torque it needs for offroading.

Meanwhile, I have to mention that these trails are rarely used since it leads to nowhere and the forest has no commercial produce. As a result, these trails are barely maintained. That means we had to encounter multiple layers of dry leaf on the roads, fallen branches and even fallen trees on the trail. In fact, all the three trails we took, we were finally forced to turn back because of fallen trees.

Our first foray came to an end as we ran into this obstacle.

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We were quite close to the top by now. So the guides suggested cutting across the forest by foot to break out of the foliage and see the view from the top.

So we left the Jeep here and walked into dense forest which was sloping 45 degree.

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Generally on might not think much of the 45 degree slope, but we had dry leafs to contend with. I would have never believed that dry leafs could be so slippery, but it was acting like smooth ice despite total absence of any moisture. I kept slipping royally on the dry leafs and the trees were the only thing that kept me from crashing to the ground. I used the trees as crutches all my way.

Check out the dry leaf covered ground in a 45 degree slope.

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Even trees have developed buttresses to support themselves in the slope. I got that tit-bit from Hari who has B.Sc (Agriculture) background.

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And, this was our reward.

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You can actually see the trails we drove on the ground, donít ask me which ones, I am not sure.

On the way up back to the Jeep, I banged my head on this fallen tree since I was looking down as I climbed.

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This was a tough climb considering the gradient and the slippery dry leafs. But climbing up was less dangerous than climbing down since the risk of slipping is less.

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After reaching the Jeep we started driving back down the mountain, and local drivers say now we can switch to 2WD drive. What!!! I guess that is a technical mistake on their part. I am not denying it canít be done in 2WD, but why lose the extra control of 4WD and hurtle down the mountain. If you need 4WD to climb an incline, it is better to use 4WD to climb down the same incline. So I introduce the idea of no-ABC to them, and they donít look convinced. Then I tell them that I will climb down all the way without using brake, they look even more skeptical. So I showed it, I drove down all the way, even 35 degree inclines using no brakes. If they were surprised, they hid it rather well.

While we were half way down I noticed another trail which they said goes to the river, so I assumed it goes down. So we decide to check it out. Soon I realised it was going up and up and up and never down. It made me wonder what kind of river flows on the top of the mountain. This trail was even less maintained and narrow and by this time I had enough experience with the dry leaf on the road to fear them. I drifted at least twice to the edge, but was able to recover and stay on trail. Slipping to the side means sliding down the 45 degree slope until a tree stops us.

Again we were stopped by a fallen tree. But this time were just 100 meters away from the river.

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We had to walk this path to reach the river.

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Do you see the river, we are in front of it.

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It is the dark portion at the bottom. No water now, but it roars during monsoon.

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To be continued...
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Old 20th January 2009, 01:52   #2
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great find!! almost qualifies as a jungle safari,btw any wild animals on the way? n
Oo private forest
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Old 20th January 2009, 02:09   #3
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Fantastic pictures and excellent write up. Did not know there were private forrests in India, I thought the various land ceiling type acts enacted by various states would have gobbled up such areas.

Last edited by bigman : 20th January 2009 at 02:10.
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Old 20th January 2009, 06:19   #4
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Wow. Nice adventure.
How do you get back in case you are lost. Are you carrying any GPS?
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Old 20th January 2009, 07:24   #5
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This is one hell of a track. Great find, Samurai.

Hope you guys get to do an OTR event here.

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...How do you get back in case you are lost. Are you carrying any GPS?
Reckon the local drivers would be all to familiar with this spot, hence no GPS required.
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Old 20th January 2009, 08:11   #6
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The photography was quite a challenge in this terrain. Since the frame contains bright sunlight striping the dark jungle, it really confuses the hell out of the light meter in the camera.

Check out the lighting challenge in the next two shots.

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One more buttressed tree.

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As we drove out of that private forest, we saw another trail that leads to the neighboring estate. That trail was even less maintained.

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Tree debris on the path.

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Then there was this stuff, which I practically bulldozed with the Jeep.

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I was rewarded with some scratches on the bonnet and the new windshield frame.

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Then again we were stopped by a fallen tree.

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So we again had to walk down the path leaving the Jeep behind. Notice the gradient, which is going to be a killer during monsoons. There are lots of such inclines.

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And we reached the edge of the private forest. The neighbor had completely cleared the forest and planted rubber trees. There was no fun in travelling through that terrain. So we decided not to check out that estate.

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So we are finally out of the jungle, you can see the hill we climbed in the background.

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As we drove towards the farm house, we talked about the possibility of naxals in the area. They said there are no naxals in their area, however the STF (Special Task Force of Police) people routinely visit to check out the area. In fact they had mistaken us for STF, which explains why they had climbed on back of the Jeep without a question. Since both I and Hariprasad are ex-NCC chaps who still havenít lost our military walking style and demeanor, it was easy to understand how that could have happened. We had a good laugh when we realised we were playing cops unknowingly for nearly 4 hours.

The location was promising, it has nearly 10Kms of forest trails with 2-3 water challenges, all in a single ownership forest. We promised to get back in July-August for a final recce and drove off to the next location. Meanwhile we both full admiration for the CJ340, it handled the terrain so easily, it was just mind-blowing. It would be fair to say that over 95% of the populace is absolutely unaware what Jeeps are capable once getting off the tarmac.

My first Recce-p1172848.jpg

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A pineapple/rubber plantation on the way.

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The next location was a 26 acre resort land that is being developed on a river bank, so far there is nothing but wild trails, the completion may be 5 years away.

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Check this view from there. What you see in the horizon is Manipal, starting with End Point on the left side.

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This is the way to the river bank. I could have gone all the way down, but it was getting late. Besides, I didnít have any recovery gear or second vehicle if I got stuck.

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The views from the river bank

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This location is a bushy land with natural obstacles, but not trail driving like the earlier forest. You can cover end to end in 10 minutes. However, the scene is amazing, we can create our own obstacles like they did in Hyderabad, and we can camp. So, there are possibilities.
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Old 20th January 2009, 09:17   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vinaydas View Post
great find!! almost qualifies as a jungle safari,btw any wild animals on the way? n
Oo private forest
We met no animals, but I believe there is nothing bigger than wild boars here.

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Originally Posted by bigman View Post
Fantastic pictures and excellent write up. Did not know there were private forrests in India, I thought the various land ceiling type acts enacted by various states would have gobbled up such areas.
That is not true. There are lots of private forests in Udupi district. You can even get logging permit by applying to forest department.

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Wow. Nice adventure.
How do you get back in case you are lost. Are you carrying any GPS?
It had very limited trails, no chance of losing way if you stick to the trail.

Last edited by Samurai : 20th January 2009 at 14:54. Reason: removing OT stuff
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Old 20th January 2009, 09:20   #8
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Since most want to be SUV owners will think of buying a 4x4, I have a query.

How well would your GV/Bolero 4x4, Safari 4x4 cope with the track you took?
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Old 20th January 2009, 10:16   #9
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mmmm... nice find Samurai. The thrill of doing a recee is great. You don't know what lies ahead and the excitement of finding out what lies ahead is just toooooooo good.

This will be a nice trail in the monsoons.
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Old 20th January 2009, 10:39   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkdas View Post
How well would your GV/Bolero 4x4, Safari 4x4 cope with the track you took?
Under current conditions, GV/Safari/Bolero should be able to handle it, provided to you are willing to suffer deep scratches from fallen branches and narrow trails. Some places the trail was very narrow, could be a tight spot for the bigger SUVs. Can't say about monsoon conditions though, that is why another recce with an offroading expert is needed.

Last edited by Samurai : 20th January 2009 at 14:54. Reason: removing OT stuff
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Old 20th January 2009, 10:54   #11
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Wish I owned this private forest. All interested offroadies would get an annual invite on the house.
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Old 20th January 2009, 10:56   #12
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Samurai it would be fabulous to camp deep inside a dense forest like that. What a place. I'll be troubling you once I get a 4x4
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Old 20th January 2009, 11:22   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fazalaliadil View Post
Wish I owned this private forest. All interested offroadies would get an annual invite on the house.
You could, I hear it is up for sale.

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Samurai it would be fabulous to camp deep inside a dense forest like that. What a place. I'll be troubling you once I get a 4x4
Sure, but I didn't see any open space for camping, it is a very dense jungle, sloping everywhere. The second location has ample camping spots and permission can be obtained easily.

Last edited by Samurai : 20th January 2009 at 14:55. Reason: removing OT stuff
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Old 20th January 2009, 11:39   #14
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@Samurai: Wow - as usual.
Watch out for river banks - nearing the edge you can get sandy "beach" which many times does not even hold the weight of a person. I had a near panic experience quite a while back on banks of Sutlej river up north. Been wary of river beds ever since.
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Old 20th January 2009, 11:46   #15
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Great to see you back with a recce-log and whole lots of awesome pictures. The 2nd pic in the 2nd part of the write-up indeed is an amazing illustration of light and darkness. Being surrounded with nice offroading terrains, it seems you are utlizing the jeep to the best extent possible. Really loved reading every bit of the trip.
-Regards,
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