A plan that started with a normal conversation with friends to go for a trip, then an adventurous trip and finally concluded to go for a trek! With one of the friends getting this brilliant idea of Kedarkantha trek because he thought it is a really nice place to do photography, we all sounded interested and took it to further planning. Started with three of us and we asked friends, relatives, colleagues, whosoever is interested and ended up with a group of eleven of us!
It was one of the most amazing, difficult and also once-in-a-lifetime experience.
As we all read and analyze before going for any trip, whether it’s a trek or just a getaway, we did the same too.
But there are certain things which you can only experience and not read about, that’s what happened with us too.
Here are few things which personally we experienced and can be used for people who want to trek and take tips from it or just read it for the fun of it.
Reaching the destination, one by one:
So we all started from Bangalore and our target was the peak. So you can't just climb at once and finish it. Not only coz it’s far and it’s impossible but also coz you need to acclimatized to the weather coz you are literally going from South to North. And this I am saying for especially those people who haven’t experienced the cold of Delhi, north UP. People who have never stayed in that temperature and don't know what happens when you get out of your blanket in the morning and have to step out in that cold weather wearing maximum layers possible.
Similar thing happened with us - We went from Bangalore to Dehradun to Sankri (6,400 ft.) To Juda-ka-Talab (9,100 ft.) To Kedarkantha base (11,250 ft.) to Kedarkantha Peak (12,500 ft.) and back, one night at a time.
Winter was coming - sleepless nights:
Next very intense thing which we experienced was the sleepless nights. So as I mentioned we were climbing the levels one by one, at the same time the temperature was decreasing drastically. The night we spent in Dehradun was a bliss compared to what we spent on the Kedarkantha base, even though we thought Dehradun was very cold when we just arrived. Every night we spent in tents was so cold and all we had was a tent and a sleeping bag. As soon as we try and sleep, the cold floor (literally snow) used to enter our bodies and that chill used to go down us. We struggled to sleep every night. People had different measures for it - take an antibiotic, drink rum, hug your friends and sleep, wear as many clothes possible, etc.
As the sun used to go down, which was pretty early compared to the city life, the chilled wind started and we used to run here and there to just get some warmth from anywhere. All we had was different sizes of tents and some blankets. Even when we stood in front of bonfire, the front used to feel warm but your back will be chilled by then. You can't wear only chappals, you need to wear socks all the time, you can stay bare handed, and you have to wear gloves. Eating was a task as you need to remove gloves and the part where you had to wash your hands, oh man!
Hygiene? I am sorry:
For people who are used to nice and neat washrooms and showers to bathe, forget about them. I am not sure how I will be able to describe this but it was again one of the not-known experiences which you can't avoid. I am not going to go in detail but all I would say is I think I can adjust anywhere after experiencing the tent based loos there. And taking bath is out of the picture, not being able to shower for a week was another thing which we got used to off. Dry shower and changing of clothes is maximum that we got. Getting up the earliest and not drinking much water was the key.
Cribbing about food:
Another savior which was there was the food. We were lucky to have got really nice food and we all used to look forward to it. Specially the hot tea. If you are not a tea lover, you will become one. Not because it was just awesome (at some base camps) but also coz the feeling it gives in that cold is incomparable. After the long day of trekking and reaching our camps, we used to look forward to eating so badly and the amount of food we hogged was limitless. It used to be a full meal with starter, proper meal and dessert too. Also, no meat. There are no animals on that height to feed you. Just some dogs who are so pretty that you just want to pet them. So non-vegetarians, keep a note.
Another very enriching experience (especially for today's generation) was no mobile network/WiFi/connectivity for a week or even more. You cannot contact anyone, no one can contact you, where you are, what you are doing, no sharing of pictures, no FB, no insta, no checking of mails, no getting up and checking your WhatsApp, nothing! You do not get network at all, only a few places BSNL was working, god wonders how. But yeah anyway, this was also one of the experiences that was weird and amazing at the same time. The only thing you can do whole day is talking to people around you, take pictures for you, rest without any disturbance and have fun with the nature. Just imagine packing your phones for a week in your bags like it’s some useless thing. Even though our loved ones were super worried about us and as soon as we got the network, we had dozens of msgs and WhatsApp’s but still, being on the other side was exciting.
The final climb:
So Kedarkantha peak is about watching the sunrise and it takes minimum 3-4 hours to trek till the peak and other 3-4 hours to descend from and to our base camps respectively. So you can imagine when we had to leave - 3:30 AM. Yeah, so after struggling and somehow managing to sleep by 2-2:30, we had to get up at 3, get ready, eat porridge and leave for the most difficult part. Since its night time, we needed to carry our torches, water bottles and also few other essentials. The way to the trek was so narrow that we had to keep each step carefully and the only thing you can see on both sides is darkness! You can't even imagine anyone rescuing you if in case you fall (not trying to scare) but yes, now when I think of it, it was really difficult. And the mountain tests you for everything, whether it’s your stamina to walk in the slope path, or your hand strength to hold the rocks and climb up, or the wind and the snow which freezes you at each second, or the oxygen which keeps reducing as you go up. There will only be one stop in between where you can have tea and then you need to carry on again. The best (worst) part was that you can't go back in case you decide to give up coz the way to go up and come down was different so you need to complete the trek and reach the peak. But that feeling once you reach... OMG! I can't describe. It is just amazing.
Sliding down from top:
After you have reached the peak and spent the considerable time there, you need to go down and that was the best part. Since you are going down the peak, there is so much snow and also instead of just walking down by balancing yourself, you can slide! Yes, that was so amazing. Just slide your way down for maximum of the trek. We had so much fun there. We made multiple videos, boomerangs but the actual fun of experiencing it was so amazing. Even though our bums were frozen but it was still just memorable. It was like we were doing some adventure sports where you have snow all around you and you just sit and slide down to cross it.
All I want to say it that for me this was like a lifetime achievement. This was that experience which told me how head strong and powerful we all are. I am sure there are dozens of difficult treks or things people do, but this was for sure a big item on the bucket list which got checked at the right time and with right people. Nothing but the memories are there with me and the endless conversations that we still have when the topic comes.