The Pandemic hit everyone below the belt be it financially or otherwise . People were stuck where they were for a seemingly infinite amount of time, hours felt like days and days like months. I came home for Holi and now was celebrating Diwali. Even when the lockdown was retracted we were still skeptical whether to go out or not , after a lot of convincing my parents agreed to let me go for another trek . Now, the the part where I select on which trek to go options were limited to few of the winter treks , I wanted to go to Kuari Passs and Pangarchulla but I got late by a few days and the batches got booked . Made the final decision of going on Kedarkantha Trek this year.
Kedarkantha is an easy trek in the Uttarkashi district in Uttrakhand state of India . The trek is 3-4 days long and begins from Sankri village. This peak offers a relatively easy and much sought after summit climb . According to the legend told by the locals , whenever the devotees try to build the temple of lord Shiva on the mountain the roof gets destroyed by the force of the nature so the temple is till its neck (Kanth) thus bearing the name Kedarkantha 'To the neck of Shiva'. The summit offers 180 degree of breathtaking views along with subzero temperatures and high winds .
The next days were full of preparation buying stuff, packing and managing gear , making checklists , checking things off the checklist, booking bus tickets . Major exercise was packing the rucksack in such a way that all the gear gets in without losing the balance.
The day started with all the the last minute preparations and ticking the final checklist . Around 8 checked the gear one last time because I did not want to miss anything and we left for ISBT at 8:30 pm . The bus time was 10:30 pm .
Kashmere Gate ISBT
When we reached the bus was ready to leave . I took my seat and soon the journey started .
I have no idea how the time passed so fast I reached Dehradun at 4 am ETA was 5:30 am and my pickup was scheduled for 7 am . Now I had 3 hours to kill and no place to go .
Fortunately met a co trekker Romit at a tea stall who was going to Pangarchulla and his pickup was at 7 too . We had a few teas and omelets to survive the chilly 3 degree morning of Dehradun.
Time passes fast when you have a companion and soon it was 7 we wished for successful summits of each other and exchanged contact info and went to our vehicles .
I went to the Tempo Traveler and met with the rest of my group. Soon we loaded out our rucksacks and started the 10 hour journey to Sankri village in Govind National Park.
We took our first break a little after Mussoorie .We resumed our journey after breakfast . The roads were full of scenic views , long pine trees , high ice capped mountains , sinuous roads , waterfalls, meandering rivers, what more to ask .
We made our lunch stop at a village called Purola which was 60 odd kilometers from Sankri. I had their specialty red rice and rajma . The red rice are only grown in this village. We left from Purola and the driver told us there will be no network after this , we thought there would be network/internet connection atleast till the Sankri .
We reached Sankri in daylight and we carried our bags to our homestay , but it wasn't too early that the sun dipped and the temperatures went subzero. We had our welcome tea , had a briefing about the trek and an equipment check. Around 8 we gathered for warm dinner which was no less than a feast at that altitude and temperature (the dinner was actually very tasty). Later in the night I was accompanied by Vyom and Pakhi in some astrophotography they left early (wise decision) . I stayed till my fingertips said no.
The next morning we woke up full of energy partly because of the lemongrass tea we were served in bed . We packed our gear and gathered for breakfast , Aloo poori was an unexpected treat for us , we gobbled that up like hungry giants . we got our lunch and we headed towards our trail at around 9 am .
The trail in the start was steep and filled with loose rocks which made us question ourselves about the idea of trekking . Soon the terrain evened up and it was a gradual slope , there were steep sections but were manageable yet we were tired and out of breath every 10 minutes , I guess that's what mountains do to you , however prepared you come , you will get tired . Somehow we reached the mid point , there were many stalls/ tea points , had some tea and maggie which refreshed us for better half of the trail ahead.
Somehow we reached our first campsite around 3 pm after some 4 km.
We gathered again for a little stretch , so we are able to walk the next day without crying and moaning . We were served lunch , filled our bellies and layered up for the chill since it was almost sundown . All of us hurdled in the dining tent and played games , chatted up till the dinner was served . After having dinner we all went to our tents , the night was going to be long , since sleeping on ice is new every time.
The one hour spells of sleep soon brought some sunlight , woke up freshened up and got ready for the day ahead to the base camp . Today's special in 'Hotel Chilly Morning' was Macaroni and coffee (which we had to make ourselves since everybody likes their coffee different).
Today we had to walk on verglas ( solid and slippery ice ) so we wore our micro spikes and started treading on ice . Not too far was Juda Ka Taal , which was semi frozen at that time .
We stayed here for some time played with snow balls then headed on our path . The cloud cover was getting dense which was worry some since if it snowed we wont be able to summit the coming day .
The path was full of ups and downs but was easier and shorter compared to the previous day . Soon we reached our base camp and saw the first glimpse of the peak .
Today was short to prepare for the Exhausting summit day tomorrow. We had our lunch and saw a light show of nature, one of the most spectacular sunset .
To our surprise the clouds cleared up and the stars were shining above us , we had our breakfast picked up our bags , mounted our head lamps and headed for the summit . the trail was jammed backpack to face as in bumper to bumper on a highway . As far we can see there were headlamps shining in the pitch darkness . Approximately 200 people were on the trail going for summit .
We stopped midway for tea , Pakhi and Nimani Ji were in full mood to bail out , Abhishek , our trek leader asked them to go on their pace and he will accompany them . 4 of us me Vyom, Sameer and Akash along with Rawat Ji were leading the group rest of us were accompanied by Rakesh, our second trek leader . We reached the shoulder at 6:15 am and from this point 4 of us with Rawat Ji were almost speed hiking to the summit to catch the sunrise . The ridge was steep and comprised of big boulders which we managed and reached the summit at 7:05 am . Me and Vyom took out our cameras and stared scouting for locations as the peak was packed with people, we didn't care about the temperature ( which was about-15°C with high winds). Found a good spot and witnessed the most spectacular sunrise , the hike was worth it .
We made it ! After 2 days of trekking and a sleepless night at 3810 m enjoying a sunrise .
It was time to head back down now . No one wanted to leave so soon but the weather said otherwise . While heading down there were many places where we glissaded on snow, amazing feeling it was. on the trail I reached for my bottle as soon as I tried to sip my lips got stuck to the bottle, the water in the bottle froze, it was amazing at the same time scary how cold it was .
Anyhow we continued on our path while talking about other treks and expeditions in the region as Sankri serves as base camp to numerous treks and expeditions to nearby peaks in the Bandarpunchh range like Black peak Swargrohini , Bandarpunch 1 and 2 . Rakesh and I went on a little detour , went into waist deep snow and ran down the trail making our own trail sometimes , it takes thrice the effort to walk in knee deep snow imagine waist deep , it was an experience an interesting and enjoyable one.
Soon we reached the basecamp , had our lunch and relaxed for a bit before heading down to Hargaon camp.
We left for Hargaon at 1:30pm. The trail was mostly downhill but the melted snow made the path slushy and slippery especially for me and Vyom as we were carrying all of our stuff others had offloaded their backpacks before starting.
We reached Hargaon camp around 3 .Here we were taught how to pitch a tents and what all things to look for when planning a campsite . It was a fun exercise after a long day . We all gathered in the dining tent for lunch while most of us went back to our tents me and Lalitha Ji stayed ad talked about different treks she has done and some of once I wanted to do in the near future . Puroo and rakesh joined us later and Puroo narrated the stories of his engineering life in Muzzafarnagar (which made us rofl in real life ). We stepped outside the tent to layer up just to find that the temperature had already dipped below 0 . We all came back for soup and popcorn and stayed till dinner . there was a feedback and debriefing session followed by belated birthday celebration of our trek leader Rakesh . We had an awesome cake at -3°C and 8450ft/2560m.
Vyom and me prepared for another chilly astrophotography session which only lasted half an hour or so since the weather dropped drastically and standing without gloves was unbearable.
We had planned to leave hargaon at 8 in the morning but after breakfast it was are around 9 already so we packed our bags and got ready for the way down.
Even though we started fairly early in the morning the snow had already started to melt making the trails slushy and slippery , which got me the half way , I slipped , felt, rolled over 2-3 times and sprained by right hand thumb which wasn't hurting much but swelled up so became a minor concern . took small steps rest of the way down with meticulous foot placement while having a turtle race with Pakhi who reaches Sankri last wins ( I won ) .
We had an awesome maggie and tea at Rakesh's favourite place .
Soon it was time to leave this awesome place and bid adieu to Rakesh and Rawat Ji , Abhishek was going down with us back to Dehradun (so as he thought). We clicked some selfies and were on our way . We reached Purola and everyone phones started ringing , we were having network connection after days . Some called their near and dears and telling them about the successful summit, while some were busy with booking hotels Abhishek had a surprise call that he had to head back to Sankri the next day his trip to Brahmatal was cancelled . Soon it was sunset and few got busy in our phones , few slept their way to the hotel . we reached Mussoorie around 9 and dropped some of us , rest of resumed the journey back to Dehradun . Reached Dehradun at 10. Said goodbye to the remaining and we all went separate directions .
I had a great time with all these people Vyom , Pakhi, Akash Sunanda ,Sameer ,Haran , Nimani Ji , Lalitha Ji and Puroo.
Team of Bikat Adventures was very good , all the staff and the trek leaders were awesome , the food was no less than a feast everytime anytime of the day. Looking forward to trekking with them again .
Expenses : Trekking Charges - ₹8900+₹2200+tax = ₹11871
: Bus - ₹800+800 = ₹1600
Total was approximately - ₹14000