Kedarkantha Trek Photo Story
We all need to climb a mountain at least once in our lives. It changes us, inspires us and puts things in perspective. There is something about inhaling the wild carefree air that fills us up with positivity energy, hope, and dreams.
At the heart of Uttrakhand lies numerous proud peaks and one of them is Kedarkantha. It is perfect for all adventurous souls who love snow and high mountains. In just a matter of 4 days, you come back from what seems like a completely different planet. You get to walk in snow that sparkles like a million fallen stars on earth, you step foot on a frozen lake, watch snow clad peaks come to life after dark and watch the sunrise from the top of a mountain.
Allow me to take you on a journey and show you why most people fall in love with Kedarkantha.
Day 1: Gradual ascend and lots and lots of snow.
The starting point of the trek is a charming little village called Sankri. Life goes on at a different pace here. There are no bumper to bumper jams, no high rise buildings, no rush of any sort anywhere in the vicinity. Breath in the peace that surrounds you and gear up to start your trek. The trail starts after a short 5 minute walk from the village.
And boom, all of you sudden you will find yourself in a beautiful pine forest that welcomes sunlight throughout the day.
It's a short 4-5 hours hike today, but not at all challenging. You will find yourself surrounded by knee-deep snow and you'll have to zigzag your way up.
The forest is your companion today; you will walk in and out of it, heading uphill throughout the way. Keep an eye out for woodpeckers and snow falling off tree branches, both are equally pleasant to watch and admire.
There are two tiny restaurants midway that serve omelettes, maggie and hot beverages. Fill your bellies up, take in the sunshine, you are almost there now.
The rest of the way is a pleasant walk with beauty on all sides.
And just like that, you'll be at your first campsite. It’s hard to believe that you can reach such a beautiful place in a matter of hours. A slight change in altitude can do you wonders.
I play a little game in my head every time I am at such places. I close my eyes and imagine myself back in the office stressed as hell and open my eyes and remind myself of where I am. And it always, always makes me smile.
Frozen Lake. Base camp. Sleeping under the shadow of Kedarkantha.
Today is going to be an exciting day. The trail is easy, the distance is short, and you’ll get to walk on a frozen lake. But remember you need to reach the basecamp today, so the journey is still uphill.
And here you are. Welcome to Juda Ka Tal, a small lake found on the trail, that freezes during winters. Most trekkers get to walk on an ice sheet for the first time here and it's a thrilling experience.
The lake somehow fills you up with joy. Before we knew it, the team was splashing snow on each other and jumping around. It is moments like these that makes you realize the importance of taking out time for yourself. If the ocean within you is at peace and bubbling with joy at the same time, everything seems okay.
And, you’ve got the best seats in the world waiting for you at your base camp. The best seats in the Himalayas. Of all the treks I have been on, I’ve never seen such an incredible campsite.
You’ll be able to see Kedarkantha clearly from the basecamp. Admire the view, because it is going to shine brighter than the moon at night. You’ll be standing on top of that peak at sunrise tomorrow morning.
Summit day. Epic views. Ice cold hands.
The best thing about Kedarkantha is the expedition like feel. You wake up in the wee hours of the night to start your summit attempt (3AM to be precise). You will have to do the same if you ever want to summit higher peaks. Consider this to be your practice ground.
As the sun rises, the views will steal your heart. You rarely get to a 360 degree view of the Himalayas on treks, but here you are and this will be your reward. It is pretty intense and magical.
This is the only day that would feel strenous not just because of the steep ascend but also because of the cold wind blowing in your face and freezing your hands and feet. But by 7 or 7:30 AM, you'll be standing on top of Kedarkantha, watching in awe at the beauty you are surrounded with.
The views will keep amazing you on your way back to the basecamp. And eventually the sun will start warming you up, and everything seems blissful.
You’ll get plenty of opportunities to glissade in snow. Make sure you don’t do it without the watchful eye of your trek leaders. These things have a way of turning into an accident very quickly.
And it’s time to celebrate. You’ve just summited your first peak and you can’t help but feel on top of the world. You’ll head back to your basecamp for a hot meal before heading to your next campsite.
Day 4: And it all ends today.
Picture of Hargaon campsite
Today is the easiest of all the days. You would have camped at Hargaon the previous night, which is just 2 hours away from Sankri. Wake up early morning and catch the sunrise at your last super gorgeous campsite.
And make your way back to Sankri and enjoy the hospitality of the locals with a warm meal and endless stories.
So what say you? Are you up for the challenge? Four blissful days in the Himalayas are waiting for you. Get there before the snow melts.
Find out more about Kedarkantha here.