This ain't your grandma’s Sunday afternoon walk.
Kedar Tal is rated as a moderate hike, but don't let labels fool you- this one is feisty, throwing some curveballs to those who choose to take the journey up to that glittering lake.
So what makes Kedar Tal the perfect amount of adventure for all of those adrenaline junkies and challenge-seekers out there? What could it have hidden up its sleeve?
Three things, to be exact.
1. The Spider Wall
No, you will not encounter any arachnids during your expedition, but you may end up looking like one.
Let us explain.
You will find this naturally-occurring slab of stone tilting at 60 degrees just before you reach your first camp of Bhoj Kharak. It's the grand finale of the day, if you will. The rock angles above you on the right after a quick hop over a small waterfall, but it's the left side you've got to worry about. Maybe a better way to phrase it would be: it's what's not on the left side that you've got to worry about.
Because there's nothing.
Okay, well technically there's the Kedar Gunga barreling down at the bottom of the valley about 100 feet below you- but that's not really helpful right now.
The 15 meters-long slab that you are about to traverse has two thin ledges protruding just slightly enough for the edge of a shoe (your shoe) to find a grip there to push off toward the next step.
To avoid any risk of slipping off the side to the left, people tend to lean their body weight through their right hand against the rock, stretching their leg slowly toward their next foothold- successfully becoming a professional spider impersonator (and conquering the spider wall).
It is possible to cross without a rope, but don't worry, your trek leader is always carrying one in case it makes you feel more at ease to traverse the wall.
This one is mental. Day 1 & 2, while beautiful and full of lush birch and rhododendrons, are nothing short of a climb. At the end of Day 1, you will be 3,317 feet higher in altitude than when the sun rose that morning, and Day 2 promises another 1,575 feet of elevation gain.
Not everyone wants to take that on, but the ones who do will reap the reward. Kedar Tal is a sight seen by few trekkers, but one of the most stunning. You will be among those few who can claim to have conquered this rare beauty.
Remember: challenges conquered are stories told.
3. Landslide Re-route
The Kedar Tal trail from Bhoj Kharak to Kedar Kharak used to be a well-worn, average, easily-identifiable trail.
Currently, the trail for about a 100 meter-stretch has become nonexistent, courtesy of a landslide.
Now we’re talking.
Time to get creative. Going up is not an option- the loose earth extends clear up to the top of this side of the mountain. Below on a straight drop-off to the left, the glacial-melt river rages. Straight ahead, the loose, shifting sand-like dirt and rogue rock dare you to find out if they'll fall away beneath your feet- leaving you with no option but to take another step quickly in hopes that this one will hold, or throw your body against the right side to arrest yourself from a fall.
Take your pick.
Our path preference is to gingerly descend down to the riverbed, careful not to set off stray rocks rolling down the hill, and follow the bank until it's possible to scramble up to the trail that resumes after some time.
Now for clarification, we will not bring you somewhere that poses an unreasonable threat to you- our guides will teach you traversing techniques, what to do with your feet and balance and provide physical support to you- we take care of you.
But even if we’ve got your back, this stuff still takes guts. It takes a lot to trust yourself when you're outside your comfort zone- but these are when we experience our most profound moments of growth, after all.
So you've got your boots, your pack and your courage. You're ready.
And so is Kedar Tal.
Show us what you've got.