Kedarkantha, my tryst with the Himalayas
I am not much of a traveler. Nor much of a writer. This is my first attempt in writing about my travel experience.
Shameer and I were planning to go for big trip this year, something adventurous. A trek in the Himalayas was in our bucket list for quite some time. We had done a few day treks in and around Bangalore but never had any trekking experience with high altitude, camping or braving the cold weather. We looked up Indiahikes, a popular trekking community and went through their list of recommendations for beginners. We shortlisted Kedarkantha, Kuari Pass and Chandrashila. We finally decided to go to Kedarkantha as it was of easy-medium difficulty, offered great scenic views and also promised some snow in April.
Any kind of trekking needs a decent level of fitness and ours was extremely poor. For this trek we had to show proof that we can run 5 KMs in under 40 mins. We also had to get a LOT of mountaineering gear — rucksack, trekking shoes, warm clothes, trekking poles, headlamps, gloves, poncho etc. We were nervous and excited.
No Gear, no problems — Decathlon to the rescue!. Credits: Indiahikes
The Trip Begins
Do we look excited enough? Left to Right: Jazim, Kaushik, Harsha and Shameer
We were 4 friends from Bangalore and Mumbai. We started on the morning of 14th April, took a flight to Delhi and then the afternoon train to Dehradun. The next morning we started on our ride to the base-camp. It was an 8-hour journey through the beautiful towns of Mussorie, Kempty, Purola and Naitwar.
Backpacks secured for the hilly ride
There were a total of 20 people in our batch who had come from different parts of the country. We got to know each other while we battled motion sickness and enjoyed the stunning valleys throughout the journey.
We reached Gaichwan Gaon, our basecamp (5,600 feet) in the evening and were greeted by cheerful crew members from Indiahikes. Our stay for the rest of the evening was in a beautiful guesthouse which was nested between the mountains with a great view of the sunset.
Would you not like to sip your tea everyday watching this?
We had an introductory session with our trek leader (Gurdit) and local guides (Rukmohan and Mukesh). They gave us instructions that we had to follow for the duration of our trek. We also underwent a quick health checkup which was done twice everyday till the day of the summit. The rule was simple — if your blood pressure, heart rate pulse or oxygen levels are not in the safe zone you had to return to the base-camp. As Gurdit quoted, “the mountains ain’t going anywhere, you can always come back”.
Sorry FB, not sharing my vitals for your analytics
Day 1 — Getting acclimatized
Let’s Roll. Credits: Jazim’s GoPro
The first day is always the most difficult. Our body is not used to walking up an elevation with a sack of 8kgs on our backs. We had to walk for 5 hours to reach our first campsite. The long hike through the pine forests was tiring but it was beautiful and refreshing all the way up to the top
Last village on the way up. Credits: Shameer
Looking for peace, bruh?
It started raining as we reached our first campsite at Jalouta (8,950 feet). The temperature suddenly dipped to 7 degrees and we were all freezing. We were treated to steaming hot Kadhi Chawal for lunch. We had earned it.
Campsite at Jalouta. The tents were neat and perfect
The rest of the evening was spent in hiking around the campsite and getting lost in our thoughts.
First sight of snow clad mountains. Couldn’t contain the excitement anymore
Beautiful sunset, again?
The best part of the day was yet to come. It was a new moon night with clear skies. It was the perfect night for stargazing
No DSLR, no problem. OnePlus 5T Zindabad
Day 2 — Meadows and Chill
Kedarkantha is famous for its lush green meadows. We walked through the endless meadows and forest for 5 hours. We were an an hour away from our next campsite and there was snow
Pukhrola (10,800 feet) is the base of the Kedarkantha summit. We reached Pukhrola and met another batch that was just returning from the summit. After a sumptuous meal of Rajma Chawal, we gathered to discuss the plan for the next day. The summit climb was going to take us 2 hours and we were supposed to start at 5 in the morning. We unanimously decided to reach the top of the summit for the sunrise at 5:30am. For that to happen, we had to wake up at 2am and start the climb at 3am. It rained heavily as we discussed the plan. Waking up at 2am in 2 degrees of temperature seemed challenging. Were we really up for it?
Pukhrola — the busiest campsite in the trek
Day 3 — Day of the summit
All of us woke up at 2am. The sky was clear and our resolve was firm. Gloves on, jackets on, headlamps in place and we started the climb in pitch dark.
Headlamps, not stars!
With no vision of the depth behind us and no backpacks the climb seemed easy. We made it to the top in 2 hours, much before the sunrise. We were lost for words as we reached the topmost point
The view from 12,500 feet
Best pic of the lot? Credits: Shameer
Feels like we scaled Mt. Everest. Credits: Aman
The descend and the day after
We never realized what we had climbed because of the pitch darkness. Only when we started to climb down we experienced the steepness of the mountain. We saw a lot of the receding summer snow
Time for some real snow walk. Credits: Rohit
We reached the base, rested for a bit and then started the descent to the next campsite. Akroti Thach (10,135 feet) was in the middle of the pine forest and was a good resting point
The last day was a 6 hour hike through the jungle. Aman, the star of our batch, sang songs throughout the walk and we joined in chorus. The highlight of the day was the rock climbing we had to do.
We were back in Gaichwan Gaon by evening. The trek came to an end but it was the beginning of new friendships. We came back home with heavy hearts and memories for a lifetime
Gurdit — An amazing trek leader with amazing stories
The best group we could have asked for
Bye, Mountains! :)