The two treks I have been on, it’s been my mom who got us out of the house to do them. I was never really interested in going because I was so stressed out about school, homework, the future and anything else you can be stressed out about but when you actually start climbing, trust me you won’t regret doing it. A good experience and meeting some amazing new people is better than anything else in the world.
Quite a lot of local people climb Kedarkantha in a day as a pilgrimage because it is claimed that Lord Shiva meditated there but was disturbed by the constant mooing of a calf. So he decided to leave and promptly went to Kedarnath to continue meditating in peace.
The base camp for the Kedarkantha trek is in Sankri, Uttarakhand which is a tiny village about 200km away from Dehradun and it serves as the basecamp for the Har ki Dun trek also. Most people hitch a ride on the train till Dehradun and then are driven to Sankri in a cab but we took our own car because we hadn’t gotten the hang of packing light yet. Moreover , it is kind of better to make some pit stops also rather than taking a long train ride and an even longer drive in one day. Of course bringing your own car raises some eyebrows, our trek leader, Mozart, already had a broken knuckle out of sheer frustration and when he saw us arrive he was like “Good god! I don’t want to be stuck with these people for 5 days!”. That thought changed in the next hour when dad, as always broke the ice and started making people laugh. Mozart was like ” Did that guy just make a joke ? I am so going for this trek!”
After the annoyingly long briefing we all went off to sleep. In the night, the basecamp itself gets pretty cold so you’re covered in a gazillion blankets!
It is probably good to mention now that you aren’t allowed to smoke or consume alcohol before and during the trek because it really messes with your acclimatization process and makes it more likely for you to get AMS or other altitude related ailments. Mozart told us that one guy ran after his friend with a pickaxe because of altitude sickness.
We started our first day pretty late in the morning. Mozart showed us how to ranger roll which for some reason became my favourite thing, it is really awesome and honestly you can just play catch with your clothes and they won’t open up.
The starting point of the trek is pretty close by so we just started walking forward on the road to Sankri and then climb after a ten minute walk. Most of the trek is through trees and it’s a pretty laid back trek. You don’t need any previous trekking experience. The first day you just cover 4kms and you climb 2700 feet higher. There’s a bridge on the way to our first camp site which is something one would want to paint. It just seems to stick out in the forest, so it’s pretty picturesque.
On this trek the tents and all go with you so they’re not previously set up, though they walk ahead and most of the camp site is set up by the time you reach it. I swear you have to have amazing bladder control to wait for all of it to be set up!
Our first camp site is Juda Ka Talab. It’s a small clearing in the forest and there is a small lake with a few mini islands in them, and three of them form a shape similar to the face of Yoda. It is a great place to just sit and read a book.
After a while someone got out a plate/frisbee which we played with until someone new entered the game and threw it straight and the frisbee turned and hit a rock and broke. That was the end of that.
It was my fathers birthday so Mozart, out of love, got a cake made for us and it was amazingly delicious !!!! After that we all sat down and talked about random things in the food tent.
In the evening while we were trying to catch some shut eye, the khachars (mules carrying the tents and all to the next place) walked around the campsite and the bells hanging around their necks sang such a sweet lullaby.
The second day is a mix of meadows and forests. The climb is slow and we took packed lunch of puris and chole with us and so we took an hour long break in one of the meadows for lunch. We played catch and the ball kept rolling downwards, we almost lost it to the wilderness once.
There was a small rundown shack which became the location for a full blown photoshoot! People climbed on top of it, stood next to its rock walls and posed!
We reached the Kedarkantha base after covering 4kms in 2 hours. We were 2150 feet higher and it was amazing! It became colder and misty. The weather was great and you could just sit down and enjoy the view. It was so perfect and beautiful. Someone took out a pack of cards and a bunch of us sat down in the food tent and played bluff. Someone introduced a new game in which you had to prophesy how many sets you can make with your cards and then whoever makes the prophesied amount of sets wins. One of the trekkers, Bharat, lost so often that he would just occasionally say “oonfair game”. Someone lit a fire and everyone sat down around it making weird theories about people and life in general. In the evening it became so cold that no one left the side of the fire.
Today was the day- Day three. I was woken up by my mom at 3 in the morning.
“Five more minutes!”
But I am glad I got up because when I opened the flap of the tent I was greeted by cold wind and the most beautiful place on earth. The grass was glittering in the light of our torch because of the frost on it and above us the stars were twinkling. Seeing so many stars is one of the reasons I am in love with mountains.
We walked onwards as the sun rose higher in the sky and the frost melted wherever the rays hit the grass. The peak is 12500 feet high. when we reached the view was to die for, you had a 360 degree, panoramic view of the mountains around us and it was a pretty clear day so the view was epic. It may be an easy trek but it is just as beautiful as any other trek. The sun filtered through the morning mist. When we reached the top, one of our trek guides, Trepan ji, put red tilaks on everyone. Everyone was wooed. It was perhaps the most beautiful experience I have ever had. It was mesmerizing. I just wanted to sit down and memorise every crevice and rock.
Mozart was pretty overwhelmed by it all and sat down to meditate. It was an awe inspiring place and everyone just loved it. Some of the peaks you can see from the summit are black peak, Bandarpunch, Swargrohini (which kind of looks like a monkey’s face),Chaukhamba, etc.
After about an hour everyone reluctantly turned their backs to the peak and started descending. Bharat was really afraid of falling while descending. He kind of thought that if he fell, he would roll off the mountain and plummet to his death. Mozart offered to help him out and they both ran down, hand in hand (towards the sunset) and so started the love story of Bharat and Mozart (That two timer!)
We had quite a lot of fun while descending, racing down the mountain was epic with the cold wind and gravity being on your side. There wasn’t much of a rush so everyone walked slowly after that, just taking in their surroundings.
We got back to our previous camp site for lunch. Everything but the kitchen tent had moved on to the next camp site. When someone got out their plates and checked what was inside the container, he screamed “Bhai rajma chawal hai !!” (bro its rajma chawal!!) everyone was overjoyed! I think they were more excited about rajma chawal than climbing the peak!
After lunch, since we had time, people just lazed around on the grass.
After that we went on to our next campsite, Hargaon, which is at a height of 8900 feet. After cover 6kms people were pretty tired and going down usually puts a lot of pressure on the knees so everyone just flopped on the ground again. Mom brought out the food bag and in less than a minute almost all the contents of our bag were being passed around to everyone. Mozart monkeyed around quite literally by hanging from a tree. In the evening one of the trekkers decided to teach people how to play poker. We got popcorn for snacks and I just sat down and ate right from the container.
The next day when we woke up we found out that someone else would be descending with us too. Dad and I were only excited about the fact that he had a dog with him, so all through breakfast we played with him and the he walked back to Sankri with us. On the way we stopped at the home of a relative of Trepan ji’s, he cultivated apples and they were the most delicious apples I have ever had! We took at least a half an hour longer to complete the journey because of that stop! Everyone was dead tired by the time we came back but some people were very excited that they get to have a bath after forever! Everyone stank to high heaven! Some people didn’t even wait for the hot water to come!
The entire afternoon was spent playing bluff and our tail (the person who walks at the back ensuring no one gets left behind) couldn’t lie to save his life so we had quite a lot of fun!
Though fair warning you should really rest after you get back to Sankri otherwise you won’t be able to keep your eyes open till the closing ceremony out of exhaustion.
The closing ceremony is my favourite part. Not because you get a certificate saying you did it but because now you can see the lines connecting these completely unrelated people – inside jokes, experiences, stories, and what not. You may not remember everyone from a trek but if the trek changed you then the people who climbed with you contributed quite a lot to that change.
We cut a cake to celebrate our accomplishment and everyone cheered. People sat down with their dinner plates and talked pretty late into the night about all the random things that happened on the trek.
The next day everyone who had made this trek amazing left.