It seems treks give me urge to write & update my blog once in a while. So here I'm once again to write about an amazing trek which I've been to recently. In 2015-16 dec-Jan, I went to YHAI Dalhousie winter trek. I almost wanted to write about the beauty I explored on that trek but I somehow couldn't follow. This year 2016-17, I went to Kedarkantha Summit winter trek, which I want to pen down before memories go blur.
We 5 friends (4 collegemates, 1 friend from a previous trek) decided to pick a trek which is as good and difficult as Sarpass Summit trek (2015 may-June) & nobody previously went to. After some research, we decided to go to Kedarkantha trek which starts at Mussoorie base camp. Almost of all of us had previous trekking experience of 1-2 Himalayan treks. So, with 15 days of planning, we all were set to start our journey on 31st dec. We reported Masoorie basecamp on 31st evening. One needs to reach Dehradun first & then need to take a bus/taxi to Mussoorie. Our base camp was 3-4 km just before Mussoorie town from Dehradun.
I & Arun left Bengaluru at 5:45 am flight to Dehradun. With a stop at Delhi, we reached Dehradun airport at 2:00 PM. Dehradun town (Mussoorie bus stand) is around 50kms from the airport. Gladly we also met 2 companions who were also reporting with us for the trek. Along with those 2, we four people took a taxi to Mussoorie bus stand. Photo of Arun & our 2 companions.
There we met Mansi & Shraddha who arrived there bye train. Apparently, 5th companion of ours (Urvish) decided to arrive on 2nd Jan directly to next base camp. Took a taxi to Mussoorie base camp & we 4 along with other 4 reached base camp at 5:00 PM. After some registration and reporting, we were all set to enjoy!
We walked to Mussoorie lake just beside the base camp. Had chai-biscuit, maggie & played few luck games at lakeside. It was so much fun!
It was almost sunset, and we went back to camp. Dinner was all set for us to grab! As usual, we keep butter paper with us so as not to spoil the container/dish we're eating (and that saves us to not wash our dabbas in freaking cold water). Dinner was amazing! salad, rice, mix dal, mixed veg sabzi & sweet kheer! After we had dinner, we were called upon at 9:30 PM for a quick group meeting & intro. Camp leader greeted all of us, we all had a little introduction of ourselves (where we were from, what we were doing, how many previous treks we had done & our hobbies). To my surprise, unlike my previous treks, we had the headcount of 59 people (16 ladies, rest gentlemen). Also, I must say, a majority of people were from Gujarat, Maharashtra & Bangalore. The camp leader also gave heads up on the next day planning. We had to leave early morning in the bus/taxis to higher basecamp Sankri (from where the actual trek starts) which was ~150km and would take 6-8 hours. After our group dismantled, we were given freedom to enjoy till 12:15 AM as it was 31st night and no one would want to sleep early without enjoying the last day of the year. We decorated our dining hall with balloons. Also, next day, 1st Jan 2017 was Arun's b'day! We friends started playing Antakshari & other groups started joining us! Antakshari is the best way to open up & break the ice ;) We started making friends. And as soon as the clock ticked 12, we celebrated with applause and hooting & congratulating everyone on the new year! And yes everyone wished Arun on his bday. Arun already became famous :p at 12:15, they switched off the light, and we all went to sleep.
They had told that we will be getting hot water from the geyser in the morning. And thus, I woke up at 4:45 AM and went to get fresh. But there was no hot water :( Me, Arun, Shraddha awake by 5:15 AM. We sat down in calm and then thought to warm us a little bit by exercising. We all got ready and were ready to take off for Sankri. We had a provision of a separate 8 seater car for people who wanted to do little shopping needed for a trek on the way to Sankri. So we all friends didn't go in Bus and took a car (Best decision). We left Mussoorie at 8:30 AM (after breakfast & packing our lunch to eat on the way at Lunch point). As we had a separate car & thus had a flexibility of stopping our car anywhere in between wherever we wanted to click photos & enjoy some time at waterfalls and river bank.
We all reached Sankri at around 6:00PM.
It was raining continuously that day when we reached Sankri, and rain + wind = freaking cold. As soon as we reached, we had hot water & tea + Sing dana snacks ready for us. We got allocated tents, blankets, sleeping bag & sheet, backpack. I always choose entry corner for tent, giving me the flexibility to go in/out of the tent without much hassle. Also, it is comfortable keeping your shoes out and managing your stuff just from outside of the tent. Our tents look much like army tents, held solid & tightly with rope & covered with the rain proof plastic sheet on the outside. So they are wind-proof + rain-proof. After a while, we were called for dinner at 7:30 PM. Dinner was delicious as usual! We were told to gather at 9:00 PM for a campfire at night. In YHAI treks, by the campfire, they mean everyone getting together & optionally lighting a bulb if possible. There in the campfire, we had our previous trekking batch (who were to leave for next higher camp next day) KK16 was there along with us (the KK17). Some people came late and were scolded by our camp leader. It was the fun time, so both the group had to keep sending people and to perform something in front of everyone. Me & Nikita (She also was in our group KK17, and is an amazing dancer as well as choreographer) stood up to nominate people from our group.
I played harmonica that day, few of us sang too, Juhi from KK17 did the amazing dance on London Thumakta. We also had to do some performances next day with our Next batch. We parted at 10:15 AM after campfire. Usually, in our tent, 12 people can be accommodated. We made friends with tent mates! Next day was acclimatization day for KK17. We had to go for a run & exercise at 6:30 AM. I & Arun woke up at 5:30 AM & warmed ourselves with fire below stove in the ground (which was setup for giving us hot water for getting fresh). Shraddha also woke up, we had tea then and got ready. Everyone woke up by 6:30 AM & we left for running. After running around 600meters, we did some stretching & exercises. From there, we went to see a local Mandir, where we clicked photos & played fire in the jungle, run run run. It was great team building game, letting us make new friends. We came back to camp at 8:00 AM. KK16 was getting ready to leave for higher camps by packing their lunch & packing their stuff. We had breakfast and greeted & wished good to KK16 for higher camp. We then had to pack a lightweight rucksack with few things to go on our acclimatization walk. It was ~5km to & fro.
We saw apple trees, local flora & fauna. Also spotted colorful birds & parrots on the way. And I started feeling friction on left leg ankle at the back side. It was because I wore those Quechua shoes after a long time. After we reached certain height, there was a good sight of clicking amazing photos with mountains at the back.
We also had a group photo. We came back from a walk around 1 PM. We took a lunch & had some time of around 2 hours to buy some stuff from the local market at Sankri. We bought rain poncho, I bought crack bandage to cover my ankle to save it from friction. At 4 PM we had to submit our extra luggage in the store room. They would also check the backpacks we are gonna carry & make sure they aren't too heavy. They will make us remove stuff. While in acclimatization we made few friends & by then we were the circle of 10 people in our group. I'll name & link them at the end of the blog. Arun had got us a frisbee with him. After submitting luggage, we started playing frisbee. Also there, local kids joined us playing. We also had to learn little of dance we wanted to do together in a campfire. And we had our choreographer Nikita with us. She taught us on Marathi song called Jhingat. It's a fun song and I thought, I learned the steps perfectly, teaching other friends on our part. By then, Urvish was also there with us, so he also learned with us. He got us JBL speakers, and Laxman (also a great photographer) had the song with him in his mobile so it was easy practicing. I & Shraddha also tried practicing few moves on Zumba if we could do it in the campfire. After dinner, as usual, we all were called for campfire at 9:00 PM. Also, our next batch KK18 was there accompanying us on camp-fire. After greeting and introduction, we started performances. Both the groups were great! Mansi started with Aarti on flute!
I also played a flute.
Shraddha, Arun sang, and finally it was our chance of group dance performance. Until then I thought I had mastered the steps, but I was totally wrong. Other than Nikita, we all were staring each other and doing our own steps :D It was fun that night! There, also was a performance by one locality who had come with his 4 kids. They also did sing a local song & danced in the local cultural way. It was an awesome night. After the campfire, we got bournvita, and then all went to their respective tents to sleep as next day was the higher camp day!
As same as the previous batch, we got ready, had breakfast & packed our lunch to get set for trekking to higher camp Juda da talab. We were greeted by KK18, were given Chikki & Biscuit as an extra supplement! Also, Urvish had ample amount of badam, pista, kismis; which he opened for everyone to grab on the way! After about walking & climbing of 3 hours, we started getting snow. We also reached a beautiful landscape, where we were about to take a halt for lunch.
We had a lunch there (We also made fun of Arun while having lunch for the funny thing happened there. Won't mention it here in the blog, but putting here just to keep every one of our group reminding whenever they read this :D ). After lunch we played frisbee for a while, clicked photos, I also played flute there!
It's an amazing feeling, playing flute in the snow covered wilderness & there are people encouraging you to play more and more). After lunch point, it was a climb of around one and half hours to our final destination. Our tents were set 20 minutes prior to Juda da Talab. But the tent location itself was amazing. It was full snow there. The temperature was -3degree celsius previous night. We clicked many photos, made a snow man.
We got assigned blankets & sleeping bags. We played frisbee there & then we started playing "action action" game. It's such an amazing team building game, which also keeps you warm as you keep doing & changing some action. After that, we played dancing antakshari where we'll sing a song & everyone will dance along with it.
It usually turns dark at 5:30 PM there so we had dinner at 5:30 PM. After that, half of the people went away to sleep in their tents. Some of us gathered in a group & started scary story telling. Shraddha is an amazing story teller, and she almost creeped Mansi out with her story & sudden surprise). It was very cold, around 5degree. Our friend group started playing antakshari, an even camp leader also joined with us. It was so much fun getting along with people and they become your best friends in such a little of time. Our camp leader was a highly accomplished person (black belt in Karate, appointed (but he declined) army chief, Avid mountaineer having done Everest base camp & few courses). We discussed how army serves our country in so much of negative temperature & adversities. After fun night, we got bournvita at 8:00 PM & then went to sleep at around 9:00 PM. One of the things important in treks in cold weather is you should have ample amount of liquid intakes. And that sucks when you gotta need to leave your sleeping bag & blanket at midnight in freaking cold outside for an emergency urge for an unavoidable natural call :p Next day we woke up at 7:00 AM. We had tea, breakfast. We played frisbee, clicked many photographs & slo-mo videos. I had two of amazing lighting toy specs, which were in huge demand for clicking photos.
We were all set to leave at 9:30 AM, for actual Juda da Talab. It was 20 minutes of climbing from our camp. And as we reached the Talab, it was the astonitishing beauty. Some part of the lake was frozen and all area covered with snow. We clicked many photos there, made a sliding location & started sliding by sitting on rain sheet.
We clicked many sliding videos too. We posed in Yoga positions for photos and what not! After enjoying for 2 hours, we left for higher camp Luhasu at around 12:30 PM. We then stopped at a good location, where we were to have our pack lunch. Enjoying en route, we reached Luhasu at around 3:00 PM.
The great thing about this higher camps was everytime you reach, you say wow. They are set in that beautiful location, which you will only think they exist in dreams only. Sometimes, you feel you're truly in a wonderland. Also, as after lunch point, we had started witnessing snowfall. Its like nature is congratulating you on your hard work of climbing to your higher camp.
Our camp leader was a learned guy, doing full-time mountaineering as a career, with great insights & subtle dialogs. We were asked to save water as much as possible, as it was very difficult getting water stream at that height & in that cold nearby. Also, camp site ice was slippery & few people repeatedly slipped so playing frisbee wasn't possible there. There were also camps by Indiahikes, Trek the Himalayas. I must say, YHAI tents are much reliable, safe, better than the treks set up by those other organizations. We clicked numerous photos doing crazy actions.
All you can see in all the four directions is snowy mountains. Next day, we had to wake up at 1:50 AM as we needed to leave by 3:30 AM for going to our highest point, Kedarkantha peak. We currently were at 10,500ft of height and were to reach 12,500ft of height. We had tea, breakfast. We were also given Chana-gud to accompany us till the top. It was expected of us to reach by 7 AM to witness the sunrise over the top. We stopped at around 5:30 AM at tea point till everyone is together again & making sure no one is lagging behind. From there, I started climbing up following few people, later when I realized I was following the wrong group of 7 people. I thought I was going faster, but I was wrong, I was lost with another group of Trek the Himalayas. I swiftly came down on the same way till Tea point. Where I was lucky to get our 2nd guide just leaving for higher. I was then accompanied by him till I again joined my own group at the end. Mansi, Shraddha were at the tail of the group, so we 3 started going up together. I also had lost one hand glove in the hustle of not being lost. Step after step, climbing became harder and harder as we were about to reach. Some part was so difficult, that chances of slipping were fully positive. I also, took a big torch Mansi was having & was very heavy. The torch was a liability, not freeing your one hand. There comes a part where the peak is just closer. Maybe 30meters more. But is steep. And also, since sunrise was about to happen, so snow from the mountain will fly with the full wind, entering your specs & eyes, not letting you see in the opposite direction of snow. At one point, I was very scared & wanted to give up. But Gauri who was just behind me, helped me regain my confidence & I got the momentum again. I must say, when you think it is slippery, it becomes slippery. When you think, it is easy & you can step a foot on it, it becomes easy. Also, once scared, it's hard to get confidence again while climbing slippery looking mountain rocks. Also, seeing few people ahead of you slipping from the place where you're going to step, is mind numbing. After feeling of a life & death situation while climbing the peak, when you reach, the joy is unmatched.
You can't just describe that into words. That's the feeling of achievement. Most of us stood there for 10 minutes just after climbing to take few moments. Also, no one was ready to put our hands out and clicking photos. It was so much cold there, and as I said, I had lost my one beloved glove. Even if a most beautiful girl comes to you and asks you to click a selfie with her, you'd say "No sister. I ain't getting my hands outta my pocket." After a while, I got the courage to capture the snowy mountain beauty I was witnessing & I clicked few photos on my mobile camera.
The summits of Swargarohini I&II and Bandarpuchh were visible from the top. It was all worth it to climb this high to see what we were all seeing around. Kedarkantha top also has a little temple over there. We then clicked few photos, and some of my crazy friends got shirtless photos!!!! I don't know how in the world they got the courage to do so.
You can see that how high we were on the mountain. We climbed where we were! We ate chana-gud. And started to descend down at around 9:00 AM. At first point, while I was climbing I was thinking, even if I would climb this crazily steep mountain, how would I go back down?. Mansi was already scared going down and needed a guide for all the way down. But as I and few of my friends started descending, we felt it was fun. We started to slide wherever we found continuous trail or snow.
It was so wonderful sliding on your buts or trying to slide with your shoes.
After walking and sliding down, we reached our morning tea point again. We didn't know it was that beautiful until we went back there on our way back. We clicked many, many photos and had a tea there. Arun had to stay because Nikita wouldn't let him come with us to go down. We waited till Mansi arrived. Me, Mansi, Sagar & Vipul (they were friends of Urvish before we met them & now we all were friends!) started going down to reach Luhasu point again. Clicking many photos, sliding on the snow we kept enjoying our back route. We never realized that we climbed this high & walked this much as we started feeling it's already been too long we have been descending. I feel descending is more difficult or more jerky than climbing is. You have to initiate motion & stop & control it the same time in each step to be in control. Also, descending has more chances of slipping as your force & motion is both downwards. While going down, I & Mansi met a Canadian girl, who also we had seen previous days on our way. She was trekking along with Trek the Himalayas. She almost looked like professional & was very quick in climbing & walking in snow. We reached Luhasu point at around 1:30 PM. We then sat there talking & discussing how amazing the climb and the view was. Once everyone was back, we had a lunch there and were to leave for next lower camp at the 3 PM. As we were about to leave, the next batch who were to climb reached Luhasu. Also, it was -6degree on our day. But we heard the next 3 batches couldn't climb to the summit as it had gone up to -16degree. We reached to lower camp at 5 PM. We were given blankets, were served batata-vada in snacks & Hot tomato soup! We then started playing Frisbee with points. It was all wonderful! We again met our Juda da Talab camp leader who had just changed his location to this camp. I had 2 lighting specs with me, Urvish had few lighting balloons & Speakers. We enjoyed by partying and dancing on songs in the night. Enjoyed so much. Here is one of video in the dark!
Next day, we had to leave at 8:30 AM to climb down back to Sankri. This climbing down was our most enjoyed route. As we were all going slowly, enjoying and clicking photos with Music playing in the speakers. We'll play rock songs & sometimes old Hindi songs. Everyone singing and climbing down. Ultimate fun!
We also pranked Nikita, where Vipul (Gudda) hide behind the tree and shocks Nikita when she arrives. We kept going down until we met the road. We then put our backpacks, and circled around and started dancing. We also recorded videos! We enjoyed & danced for around half an hour. Then started walking to base camp Sankri which was just 200 meters to reach. We booked 13 seats in the bus to Dehradun. We got back our extra luggage we had given to base camp & submitted sleeping sheet. We also got certificates of completion & got fresh. We left at 1:30 PM from Sankri where we had a halt at Purola village for lunch. We played Dumb Charades on the way. We also had few KK16 people in our bus. We made 2 groups and started playing Antakshari.
As my seat was more towards KK16, I joined KK16 group for the Antakshari. I had to be loyal to my group so I did not let KK16 loose and kept singing songs in time where we were short of songs B-)
We reached Dehradun at 8 PM. As soon as we reached, we had to pick a vehicle for Haridwar. There occurred a tragedy. Nikita mistakenly left her phone on the bus. Luckily with phone calls to other members who were still on the bus, we got hold of it. Nikita, Arun went to pick up the phone to a railway station. We in meantime had dinner and booked a last private bus who was to leave at 9:15 PM for Haridwar. We reached Haridwar at 11:30 PM and got down at Chandigarh junction. Where another tragedy happened. Urvish left his phone on the bus. We couldn't follow the bus neither could do anything for that.
We booked 2 rooms in Paras guest house, which was nearby & got fresh. I also transferred photos from people's mobile to my laptop. At 2 AM Some of us started playing cards (bluff). While playing, Vipul (dedh futiya) cracked a joke & everybody laughed so hard, that we can't forget that. And the way he said "I'm sorry" was so funny. We slept at 4 AM. Woke up at around 10 AM. Got fresh, and had a breakfast at Balaji Gujarati hotel. Then we went at Ganga ghat where Laxman & Rupesh did Ganga snan. Then we roamed around in the market. Also kept on clicking many photos! We had a lunch at Vaishnavi hotel. We celebrated Arun's birthday with a cake now. Then walked to Har ki Paudi Ganga ghat. There we wanted to witness Shri Ganga Aarti. It was amazing to come there, sit for a while and witness most auspicious believed Aarti at Ganga ghat.
We then went back on Cycle cart to our stay back. And left again to go back to Ganga ghat. Me, Arun, Urvish wanted to have Ganga snan in this pavitra cold Ganga water there. Shraddha cheated on us on that part. She said yes until the end that she will also do that & then she didn't accompany us. After that, we kept roaming around in the market. I gifted flute to Shraddha, Laxman also bought a flute. We had a dinner and left back to go to our stay. It rained too while going back. Vipul, Sagar had booked their stay at Dehradun so they also left. They also checked if they could get hold of bus agent we had met to inquire for Urvish's lost phone. Mansi, Shraddha, Nikita, Gauri, Harshada, Rupesh, Laxman, Manoj had to leave for Delhi. They had the same train at 1 AM. Me, Arun & Urvish went to say goodbye to them at a railway station. It was sad to say goodbye to the people who became so close in the trek. We then left for Rishikesh next day where we went to see Laxman Jhulla & walked to Ram Jhulla from there. Then went to have dinner at Rajasthani hotel to eat Dalbaati. Next day we all had flights at a different time, and we all went to Dehradun airport. And parted our ways with goodbyes!
What I learned in this trek was that how amazing people are; how amazing & beautiful nature is which we haven't ever explored; and how easy it is to achieve your target, however, hard it may seem from distance. One step at a time. There is a saying "How every day you think you see all things same, but when you look back, everything seems so much changed!". Let me know in the comments, how did you find this blog & if it inspired to go to such treks! Until the next trek & blog, bye bye.
Blog on Kedarkantha trek by Urvish/Mansi.