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Old 26th August 2008, 14:09   #1
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Default Solegiri OTR:Sunday 25th Aug

It was a nice break from all the organised jeeping of the past couple of months.Speaking to Mukunda, I mentioned that i would like to go to Solegiri and the resultant conference call had 5 people confirming.Having left home at a leisurely 9.30 we picked up Karthik whose jeep Suresh and I were driving. We proceeded to meet up with Shahnawaz and headed to Kanakapura,having asked Mukunda to join us there as he was delayed.
A procurement pit stop for the stomach and some bacchus worshiping later found us in Mukunda's company, who had by then reached Kanakapura.
A short drive thereafter found us on the trail with the accompanying forest personnel designated to accompany us by the authority.The trail up Solegiri is one which though traversed so many times has something new to offer with every quadrant around the sun.
This time there was an abundance of foliage and green cover.The weather being very pleasant we drove up with Mukund leading the way and I riding passenger in Shahnawaz's gypsy.We travelled for the most part in 2wd as did the accompanying Jeep MM540. The vehicles' amazing torque and the performance of the 4x4 tires made the terrain a cake walk for the MM540.
A while later,Mukund stopped and we had a breather as did the jeep and gypsys.The views and the ascents on the Solegiri trail afford a panaromic view of the surrounding hills that abound the cauvery river banks.

Driving techniques.
1> On the trail I have often noticed that drivers rev their engine a lot while the resulting vehicle motion is near zero.
2> Similarly when faced with a uphill climb,one does tend to rev the engine and not let go of the clutch fully.
3> This results in partial engagement of the clutch and also heating up off the surfaces in contact resulting in a loss of trans mission.
4> People driving gypsys especially love hearing their machines and if the engine so much as labours bit on an incline down goes the clutch pedal.
In doing so you are only stressing the driveline more as the power needed to stop mid way and move ahead will be higher.
5> So while the gypsys were revving it up the hill,the MM540 plodded it's way up noncholantly aided by it's torquey diesel engine,wider axles,better suspension clearance over rocks.
6> On the trail we came across a fallen tree which was too big for the jeep to haul aside.(as has been done many times in different trails before.)
7> We decided to drive around it,as i drove the gypsy around the tree,it tipped at an angle which made me uncomfortable and asking mukund to spot I drove a few feet,only to slip and wedge the gypsy's rear wheel which made the body scrub a nearby tree.Not wanting to risk damaging the body trims,we decided to tie the nylon tow rope around the gysy's left rear frame,and using a nearby tree trunk as a pulley,pull the gypsy sideways to get it back on the trail.
8> Shahnawaz tried to pull with his gypsy MG 413,we decided to put the jeep to use.I wound the chain around the front crossmember and Suresh pulled Mukund's MG410 sideways enough for it to clear the obstacle.
9> Shahnawaz next cleared it with a lil bit of help in the form of boulders placed beneath the rear wheel.
10> Karthik's MM540 was the last which it did with some drama and however not getting stuck anywhere.
The last stretch is an awesome one,the growth of green grass and also the dense foliage gives one a feeling of driving thru bushes without any roads. Having stopped at a particularly steep climb we heard the frantic trumpeting of an elephant,I reckoned that it must be a herd which was calling each other to regroup upon hearing the sound of the vehicles. Our guide said he would show us the elephant and so we moved ahead. Before trekking towards the elephant,I placed 2 packets of the the ready to eat rajma,on the MM540's inlet and exhaust manifold.A trick I learnt from some book I read.It's always works,a sealed aluminum packet of any food can be safely placed in the engine compartment and after driving a while the packet will hit around 90 odd degrees centigrade.
Walking in his direction I could hear the sounds he was making staning in the thickets across a nullah in the rocky terrain we were traversing.With our guide in the lead we moved down the nullah and up the gentle slope of the hillock and came to a small boulder from which we could see the elephant. Upon hearing and sensing us there he moved towards us with his ears flayed out and trunk held up. This prompted our guide to take to his heels,while the rest of us were hobbling around the terrain as fast as we could, he had clilmbed the other rocky outcrop which faced the direction of the elephant and seemed none the worse for wear.
That I would guess is the difference between a city slicker who wants to be an adventurer,and a native person who knows the ways of the wild. Had the elephant persisted in his charge,I have no doubt in mind( having being charged before) that the last person would have been toasted.
Thankfully though,he just decided to stay there and make that strange clicking sound I have heard agitated elephants make when they are around humans who they resent. Wisdom would then demand that one stays behind the guide at all times and give enough distance to wild animals.
We then proceeded to Solegiri,enchanting as ever,breathtaking sight of the river which is now wider at the banks,panoramic view of the hills and mountains which dot the landscape. The unimpeded view of the waterhole where we have on previous occassions seen elephants,the rustic Solegiri village in the bacground,looking as it probably did a few hundred years ago.We had a very late lunch accompanied with some brew and banter.
As the day wore out in a final brilliant display of red streaks across the western sky.We decided to move back to civilization and head back home.
We did very good time till a few kms past Kanakapura on the return journey,Mukund's TC developed some trouble,which I later traced to missing joint bolts.I removed the front prop shaft and replaced the nuts in the rear propshaft making it workable in 2wd.Then with Marc's guidance over the phone,Suresh and I fixed the stuck TC gear lever and headed back home.
It was a long day,but refreshingly different.The drive was fantastic,the scenery picturesque.The vehicles performed amicably. We also implemented recovery techniques out of need rather than indulgence.And whichever 4wd you drive,such drives make you aware of the prowess of the machine.And the experience makes it worthwhile owning one.

P.S. Karthik,thanks for the use of your jeep,please post the pictures you took.
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