24 KMs. 4 days. A dreamy terrain. A peak to summit.
Add a pinch of courage if you are a beginner, and it all seems doable.
Going on your first ever trek seems a little scary. You doubt your fitness, your mental strength, and your ability to withstand the extreme weather. But remember, all major journeys start from a small step.
‘It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out, it’s the pebble in your shoe’ - Mohammad Ali
A little adventure is good for the soul, and Kedarkantha is a beautiful winter trek that you can do as a beginner.
1. A relaxed and easy going trek:
Kedarkantha is a fun trek that takes the seriousness out of trekking. It’s almost like going on a 4-day active vacation. All the campsites can be reached in less than 4 hours, which gives you enough time during the day to enjoy the views, walk at a comfortable pace and have some fun in the snow. And if the weather turns against you and you get caught in a snowstorm, you can turn around as soon as it clears up and get back to Sankri within a few hours.
However, that does not mean you won’t have to wake up early morning every day or not walk uphill or that there are no challenges whatsoever. I will get to the challenges in a minute.
Look at the pictures below; do these trekkers look like they are on a mission, or stressed out or dying out of exhaustion?
2. The right amount of challenges:
All treks throw a few challenges at you and this is where you get a chance to test your inner strength. Kedarkantha trek offers the right amount of challenges, just enough to give you a feel of accomplishing something you never thought you could.
Dealing with the cold:
The first and I’d say the biggest challenge you’ll have to bear would be the cold. The temperature drops considerably after sundown and none of us are used to sub-zero termperatures. Your hands and feet never seem to get warm and you might have trouble sleeping at most campsites. But don’t let that discourage you. It takes some time for our bodies to adapt to change. You are subjecting yourself to too many new things, all at the same time. It's going to be -15 outside and you will be sleeping inside a sleeping bag, on a mat, inside a tent. It is going to feel a bit uncomfortable in the beginning.
Bring the right clothes suitable for a winter trek, especially thermals, warm socks, gloves and good quality waterproof shoes. A pair of warm water-resistant trekking pants and a down jacket goes without saying. You can also bring a hot water bottle and keep it next to your feet inside your sleeping bag at night. It works like a charm.
A strenuous walk to the summit:
The summit day is the only challenging day during the trek. Although it just takes you just 4 hours to reach the summit; it’s 4 hours of steep ascend in sub-zero temperatures and you start at 3 in the morning. But trust me, starting your trek in the middle of the night is actually a blessing, because you can’t really see how steep the trail is or how much further you need to walk. You just keep one foot in front of the other and as the sun starts to rise, you know without anyone telling you that you are almost there.
Go with an open mind and the will to reach the top. Reaching the summit is going to be one of the most memorable moments of your life. And as the sun rises, your senses come back life and rejoice with the warmth, so the walk back from the summit is going to be absolutely thrilling. Also, trekking is all about working together as a team, it is not a race. So, don’t worry if you are slow, no one is going to rush you or leave you behind. You walk as a team and reach the summit just fine to celebrate together.
3. The things you get to learn:
As a beginner, the amount of things you get to learn on Kedarkantha are phenomenal. You acquire skills that will help you even after the trek and give you a reasonable amount of bragging rights.
Here is everything you will get to do for the first time in your life:
Ascending and descending in snow:
Walking in snow is much different than walking in a mall. On Kedarkantha the majority of the route is easy to walk on because it has already been opened up for you, but when it snows, all the routes disappear. Whatcha gonna do then? How are you going to walk in knee-deep snow? And closer to the summit, you will anyway have to walk in knee deep snow, both while going up and while coming down. Therefore, it is important for you to learn the techniques to make it easier for you to walk the walk. Your trek leaders will find a slope with fresh snow on it, and teach you all the techniques before the summit day. It's not difficult at all, it's just a new experience for you.
Learning how to pitch a tent:
If you ever want to go on a camping trip after Kedarkanth, you will be able to pitch your tent like a boss. It almost seems unnecessary at first, because you always have a team who pitches your tents for you on organized treks, but trust me it’s a good skill to have. If I count the number of times I have helped strangers pitch a tent, especially guys, I’d run out of fingers. It encourages you to go out for independent camping trips and spend more time outdoors.
You will learn how to pitch your tent at the basecamp, where you will have to find a spot, thump your feet to flatten the uneven snow, learn how to judge the direction of the wind and pitch your own tent. It's almost like learning how to change the tyres of your car and absolutely satisfying to be able to do it yourself.
Glissading in snow:
This is one of the coolest things you’ll get to do on the trek. It always brings out the child in all the trekkers and also saves you a lot of effort while descending from the summit. There are a lot of patches where you will get to glissade down the trail, but don’t ever do it without the presence of your guide or trek leader. They will teach you how to control your speed and how to stop. Don’t go rolling down the slope and fall off the edge. Have all the fun you want, but safety comes first, so watch out.
4. And lastly, the timing is just perfect:
Time slows down in the mountains, you have no gadgets to entertain you, no meetings to attend to, no chores, no traffic, no rush, and overall no stress. And these are all the reasons why it becomes so addictive. Spending 4 days in the wilderness rejuvenates you, fills you up with energy and being on such a beautiful trek, it most definitely inspires you. It’s a short 4 day trek, which makes it easier for everyone to take time off work, get a dose of adventure and get back to their normal lives.
So, those are all the reasons that make Kedarkantha a beautiful trek for beginners. If you are planning on signing up for it, do it soon because the batches are filling up. And start preparing for it, a minimum level of fitness is still required before going on any treks.
Read up on how to prepare for a trek here.
Let go of all your fears and come experience the life in the mountains. Like most people, you will fall in love with it too.