Kedarkantha Trek by Vasantha Priya
KEDARKANTHA 1st TREK 23rd MARCH TO 30th MARCH
OUR 1st TREK IN HIMALAYAS KEDARKANTHA SUMMIT at 12,500 Feet
CHOOSING OUR TREK LEAD
In Nov 2017, the idea of scaling Everest Base Camp (EBC) came in our best friends (school mates) group, then we reached out to various sources to identify the best leader in the space. My good friends, Dr. Archana Thombre and Dr. Surrendra Patil suggested the name of Saranbir. Saranbir & his few friends run Wanderers (www.wanderers.in). Saranbir was approachable and immediately suggested us that we need to do 3 treks before thinking about EBC. As first trek he suggested us to do either Kedarkantha or Chandrasaila. We opted for Kedarkantha and fixed the timeline as end of March. We are team who have been in our professions (IT, Shipping, Telecom) for more than 2 decades, and the comfort we are used, need not be said. We have to admit Saranbir & his team was highly professional and ensured we had a smooth memorable trip.
PREPARATION TO THE TREK
Saranbir sent us a detailed itinerary and list of things to carry for the trek. Apart from these he had shared with us the fitness regime we need to adopt. With our busy professional schedule, most of us managed to shop in last few weeks at the famous sport shop Decathlon. Though few of our friends were religiously following the fitness regime, few others could not cope up to it, due to professional schedules & travels. However as a team, we are an energetic group and ensured we are always into some activity - we have a runner and few others frequent the gym.
23rd MARCH TO 30th MARCH
23rd March we all started from our destination - Raj from Hyderabad, Suri, Ajitha & Shylaja from Chennai and I(Priya) from Pune. We met at Delhi international airport for our onward flight to Dehradun. We stayed at Ramada Inn.
24th March we travelled from Dehradun to Sankri, a small village that is the starting point of our trek. Beautiful scenic journey, following the flowing river of Yamuna. We were put up in a homestay. For all of us this was the first time, we had stayed this way. Initial discomfort was there, as the wash room was in ground floor and our rooms were in first floor. However, the cozy wooden shelter for the winter was the best we can ask for in this small village. After a small break, Saranbir gave us demo on the Ranger Rolls packing method the cloths and briefed us how to layer our clothes for next day. Night end with lovely food cooked by the homestay host.
25th March we started our 1st day trek from Sankri to Juda ka talab (JKT). It was a beautiful climb up the hill through forest covered with pine trees, Deodar tress and passing through stone bridge. We removed our fleece and half sleeve T-shirt on the way, as we were feeling warm, in spite of cold weather. It was 5 hours walk including our lunch break and our photo sessions. We reached our camp site at JKT, which had our orange bright tents covered in beauty of pine trees, patches of snow and JKT Lake. We did our warm up and had a good break. Toilet tent and how to use it was briefed. It was very hygienic every one of us felt comfortable. Oxy-meter reading was taken by Saranbir for all of us, to check our fitness level and thankfully we were all confirmed fit to proceed. Night ended with nice dinner, sweet and bournvita. Sleeping in a tent & inside a sleeping bag is an experience by itself, and for all of us it was the first time.!
26th March we were woken up by ginger tea and started from JKT to Kedarkantha (KK) Base. As usual, in the morning Saranbir gave us direction on layering our clothes. He confirmed it will be an easy trek compared to the previous day and this piece of news made us relax. This time we came across lots of patches of snow while trekking. We reached KK base in 3 hours. Saranbir, whose compliments are rare, told us we were doing good - 4 in scale of 5. We reached well before lunch and the whole of evening was for us, we played lot of games, took loads of pictures. Oxy meter reading was taken again and brief on how to wear micro spikes was taught to us. Camp site again was very beautiful with KK summit with its snow capped mountain forming the backdrop. In front of us we saw whole range of mountains. The entire place was for us, and we enjoyed the atmosphere of this campsite the most.
27th March we started early in the morning 6am from KK base to KK Summit. As usual, Saranbir guided us on layering of our clothes. We wore Base Layer, a Tee & a Pant, Rain Jacket and Gloves. Fleece was worn for just sometime. This time we trekked for few distance in bit of snow and land. After that we had to wear micro spikes and the entire journey was on snow. Saranbir taught us how to climb up (using our toe) in the snow. We slowly and steadily reached the KK Summit, under the supervision of Nari (our local guide) and Saranbir. It was a delight for eyes to see the ranges of Himalayan Mountains, different shapes one overlapping another, shades of black to bright white. Mountains covered with snow ever where. Journey worth it! We spent more than an hour clicking photos in this place. Amazing place - words can't express the splendor of the view from this place – mountains in all directions. One has to experience it by themselves. If you are a nature lover, you must try this once at least. Saranbir taught us how to descend in snow and how to slide/stop in the snow. Descend was mostly slides (long ones). It was fun sliding on the snow, screaming and teasing each other. We were back in KK base by lunch. After lunch, we started again to descend to Hargoan. Reached Hargoan by 5pm. The place was again a beauty by itself. Peaceful location, anyone would like to spend the time gazing at the mountains, pine trees, starry sky, and that too particularly after successfully completing the KK Summit. Harmony was everywhere in this location.
28th March we started from Hargoan to Sankri. This was descend in the forest with loads of pine trees, red rhododendrons, dream huts facing the mountain ranges, the farms with mustard yellow flowers and apple orchids. It was more a causal walk than a trek. We reached home stay by lunch. The host were kind enough to provide us hot bathing water. We went for shopping in the small village, got to understand the village better, as we spoke to many village people there. We had Certification ceremony for our successful completion of trek. We decided to cook dinner for the entire family including us, it was again a first time experience to cook using wood. This gave the experience of how the cook was cooking and serving us through the trek.
29th March we started from Sankri back to Dehradun. Entire family came to wishes us bye. It was heart felt and touching moments. Our journey through forest on Bolero began. We were eagerly waiting for network signal which we forgot for past few days. We connected with our family and friends, midway at Purola, once we got the network. We reached Dehradun by evening and bid farewell to Saranbir. We freshened up and went for shopping followed dinner.
30th March we started back from Dehradun to our respective cities. We had common flight from Dehradun to Delhi, post which each one of us had our way home.
Suitcase locked without lashing both the zip together. Raj's confidence that he does not have mountain sickness, however couldn't stop throwing up. Shylaja's dialogues - Why Decathlon can't do something for teeth - is there teeth cover? It is shattering?. Ajitha and Shylaja buying same colour clothes and searching for each others clothes - blaming decathlon for not providing many colors.
Shylaja, saying "I am not coming, because I did not sleep last night" on the day of KK Summit. Rolling in snow when caught hip deep in snow, and telling that is the way to come out by Raj. Sliding down in Snow by Shylaja, who said if not stopped by Raj & Saranbir, would have been in KK Base. "Which way to go?" in the whole white snow area by me(Priya) to Saranbir. While sliding in the snow unable to stop using foot/heel, however creating a scene by Raj. Singing birthday songs for Shylaja many times throughout the trip from Sankri to Dehradun.
Birthday celebration for Shylaja on 29th March at Ramada. Raj's next bucket list as signer & we as instrument players - booking an auditorium (of course empty). Ajitha's cake for Shylaja and Shylaja laugh about the cake and dosa which Aji is famous for making (like Sun or Moon). "What to wear?" once we reached Sankri by all to Saranbir.
Most us stayed for the first time in a tent, and all us were using sleeping bag for the first time. The tent was placed in a clean location, on looking scenic beauty at every location. It was fun to unpack & pack stuff in the small area. Dressing up is another experience by itself. Using toilet tent was again a new experience. Particularly to go out in the night in the darkness and cold weather to the toilet tent was a big tasks by itself. Every experience was unique and we enjoyed it as a team.
Every day we were woken by hot ginger tea with honey. Breakfast had Pooha, Pan cakes, Parathas, Puris, every day was different along with coffee/tea. Lunch was rice, dal, subzi, rotis. Evening 3pm, we were served with snacks like pakodas, corns, biscuits, eggs along with tea/coffee. 5pm hot soup was given to all of us. Night dinner was at 7.30 to 8pm, with rice, dal, rotis, subzi and dessert. 8.30pm we were given bournvita or milk. Apart from this, hot water in all our bottles were filled twice or thrice a day as required. Food was made in front of us in the kitchen tent, and all freshly made & served. Saranbir roti making skill - need to call it out. His team Appu and Mahendran did a great job of cooking and cleaning the vessels. Hats off to the team, as we initial thought we will be eating only Maggie (that is what we read in many blogs), here we had lavish freshly cooked food.
Memory to cherish forever. Thanks to Saranbir and team who has made this trek so smooth, that we felt like a trip rather than a trek. Saranbir was exceptionally good in organizing the trek. He has necessary skills, which gave us the comfort of being in safe hands, when he briefed his profile on the 1 st day and it reflected in every thing that was done. Action speaks louder than words. He is a true example of this saying. During our trek, we saw few groups who had more than 60 people, and had come with the lead who himself was visiting Kedarkantha for the first time and was asking for tips from us..!! Many of those people we saw wore cotton clothes, improper shoes, no proper guidance, some were not up to climbing the last 200 m of the summit due to sheer motivational issue. When we saw all these, we know how well we were guided and taught everything right the first time. Our next trek trip will again be with Saranbir and Wanderers, with a larger group of our friends.