Back “Life is better in Hiking Boots!!!”

“Life is better in Hiking Boots!!!”

My first trek in my life was in 2009 in Western Ghats – Mulliangiri – the highest peak in Karnataka, accompanied with my friends – Rajeswari, Sudhir, Vijay, Vibhav & their friends – Pavan & Narendra. After this, we have done several treks other treks in South India. It gave me a great experience & love for nature. As I love travelling & exploring new places, I wanted to visit Jammu & Kashmir once in my lifetime. During this research, I was stunned seeing the excellence of Ladakh in pictures and I began to wonder how do I go there to experience it. I always had a dream of going to Himalayas, however didn’t know how to design it out, from persuading my family and test myself to do it. Thanks to Adobe for my 1 month sabbatical, which I took the holiday and planned my “Leh Ladakh” Trip during 2016 and had a wonderful voyage, delighted in the comfort and peace and I began to look all starry eyed at mountains and snow 🙂 This was little foundation about how I ended up with this crazy passion of exploring or enjoying the Himalayas.

It was in mid-November 2017, when I decided to trek the mighty Himalayas. This time it wasn’t easy to convince my family as I was planning to go for solo trek in extreme weather conditions, also I knew far away from network to keep family posted about where about is next to impossible. In any case, I needed to and I mean to. Needed to take a break from my standard life and needed to explore. Rightly captioned by John Muir – “Mountains are calling & I must go” was there on my head

It was at some point between August – November, 2017, even in the wake of having a cherishing and minding family, friends, astounding work life, I was feeling lost. There was something major missing in my life. Had a feeling that I have lost a piece of me. I was attempting to make sense of how to escape the state. Then finally in November 2nd week, I chose to move and invigorate myself. I required my “personal time” with me to conquer myself. Kedarkantha trek was somewhat an instantaneous choice that I made and further I began to accumulate all data related to this. One of my friend had attempted with TTH and had given great input on the same. Hence, I enrolled as solo traveller with “Trek the Himalayas” (TTH) for my first Himalayan Expedition – Kedarkantha Trek.

The Kedarkantha trek is situated among the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand. The distance is not much and the trekking trail is neither very difficult which enables even the first time trekkers to set on the adventure and enjoy the beauty of nature at its best.

Duration :- 6 Days, Max Altitude :- 12,500 Ft., Approx. Trekking Km :- 20 Kms.

Who can go:-

  1. First timer can apply, should have some interest in trekking and mountaineering.
  2. The climber must be fit and have sufficient stamina to cover 5 km of distance in 45 minutes without a stress.
  3. The climber should be able to carry a 10 kg backpack.
  4. Heart problem, high blood pressure, asthma, and epilepsy cannot be reconciled on this mission. The climber must not have the conditions mentioned above

Items to carry

The list – Trek Essentials

Fitness before Trek

Fabricate your stamina before going on any trek, particularly Himalayan Treks. Pursue the tips on the most proficient method to keep your fitness.

Journey Starts – Day 1 – Dehradun

I departed from Bangalore on 9th march 2018 to Dehradun with Indigo Airlines at 1:15 pm. I met one traveller at Airport, alongside her 4 companions who had enrolled for a similar trek and I got to know them after we touched base in Dehradun. We went together from Jolly Grant Airport to Rajendranagar costed us 1800/- where their homestay was booked. We had a bewildering dinner (Fried rice, shezwan rice) @ Alakanand and I proceeded to my cabin by booking an OLA to Hotel Shiva Residency in Rajpur Road which I had my booking. After check-in to the inn and spruce up, just explored nearby neighbourhood market. Touched base back to lodging and had a decent night rest. This lands toward the finish of Day 1.

Day 2 – Dehradun Railway Station

Early morning we were supposed to assemble @ Dehradun railway station @ 6:30 am, where we met our co-trekkers and we proceeded to Sankri where our trek starts. There were 2 tempo traveller’s waiting for us by TTH Team. Rajath was organizing in the interest of TTH. There were Rachita, Sushanth, Venkat, Vinay, Sujay – all from Bangalore, Deepa from New Delhi, Arpit from Punjab, Sagar Gupta – Ortho doc with 3 kids – Nandini(7th standard), Shaurya(5th Standard) and Khulish Jain (10th Standard) from Gujrath in our Tempo Traveller. The second beat explorer had the rest of the colleagues – Sunir from Karnataka, Shailesh Agarwal, Darshit Shah, Shyam Vyas, Ankur Sabade, Lay Adalja, Vidhi Shah & Bhaumik Parikh from Maharashtra, Kush Mehta & Jay from Gujrath, Wybe roodhuyzen from Netherlands.

It was a 10 hour long journey, we would go through Mussoorie and hairpin curves, swift turns! Bound to make anyone nauseous. In transit we had pleasant paratha’s in breakfast @ Eat Well Restaurant in Mussoorie. We had a great good rest time and as usual I clicked a considerable measure of photos. There were breakpoints for our refreshment at regular intervals.

After food, we all had avomine 😛 Began our voyage while we delighted in the landscape with great music and after that ceased at Purola for Lunch at a Dhaba – nearby place. We had roti, sabji, dal rice which was filling and delicious.

We reached Sankri @ 5pm. The point of view of valley underneath and the whole mountains cape looked wonderful under the blue sky.

Sankri is a small and quiet village in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, at an altitude of 6204 ft and it’s about 13Kms inside the Govind Wild Life Sanctuary. There is no mobile network available here and I got in a split- second detached from rest of the world. In this era where everybody is busy with the materialistic world, it’s treat to sit among individuals and talk about stuff about existence, the mountains and life!!!! Life becomes challenging & better when we move out of our comfort zone!!! (Given a thought). Sankri is the last village where we can see human in-habitation, during the trek trail we will only get to see the trekking groups and the mighty Himalaya.

As soon as we reached Hotel Wild Orchid Inn, we were given a warm welcome by TTH Leaders – Pawan Kumar, Amit & Manu Bhai. We were allotted rooms. We had a quick chat with the leaders and completed the joining formalities. We were expected to assemble for briefing session at 6:00 PM at the dining area. In the briefing session, we introduced ourselves and shared our thoughts on the Himalayan trek. Then trek leaders briefed us about the do’s & dont’s during the trial and how to acclimatise our body to negative temperature followed by the schedule we are going to follow for next 5 days. Also we were briefed about AMS altitude sickness, hazards of climbing and the ways to overcome them. To avoid getting hit by AMS, we were instructed to have Diamox tablet before even reaching Sankri. And if you wish to not take any tablet and want to get acclimatised naturally, have lots & lots of water. Keeping hydrated. In late evening, we had the quick conversations with the other fellow trekkers and proceeded for dinner (roti sabji, dal rice & gajar halwa). We enjoyed by sharing our stories, life experiences and some started their pranks with their known group and retired to our allotted rooms.

Next day early morning our seven – eight – nine schedule was designed . 7 am – Tea, 8am – Breakfast and 9am – start on trek. Our first destination was Juda ka Talab (2741 mtr / 8992 ft.) which was 5km trek from Sankri.

We started our trek by assembling outside Wild Orchid Inn, with headcount of 24 by Pawan Bhai. Manu bhai leading in the front, Pawan bhai in middle and Amit bhai in the end. We had 3 amazing trek leaders accompanying us from fast to slow trekkers in this journey as most of us were first time trekkers 🙂 We had porters along with us to carry bags, food & tent for the next camp site.

We started to climb the hill from Sankri with took a couple of break points during the trek to reach Juda ka Talab which was at the altitude of 9,100ft, around 4 kms from Sankri. In spite of the fact that 4 kms sounds less, evaluated time to cover this distance is 4-5 hours thinking about the steep climb. In mountains the kms are constantly estimated from Arial point of view!!!!

The trial was getting steeper as we climbed further to reach Juda ka Talab. During the trail we could hear the sound of running streams, where we could fill water to keep us hydrated. We could see patches of snow on either sides of the trail, lined up with pine, maple and oak trees. Two heavily furred dogs were moving with our group Selfie & Adventure (Part of TTH group). We reached our camp site, but didn’t come across Juda ka Talab (It’s a frozen Lake) still. It was another half an hour hike from the camp site.

As soon as we reached the camp site, we offloaded our bags and we did 15 min of relaxation exercise instructed by Pawan Kumar – Trek Leader. This eased our muscles and relaxed us. While the lunch was getting ready at our camp site, we had the tents allotted to us. Sleeping bags was provided to us. Many of us got busy clicking photos of this scenic location. Lunch was ready we all gathered and had our lunch – salad, roti curry, egg curry, rice sambar and papads. After great lunch, we were not allowed to sleep but just relax, as sleeping might hit us with AMS. After 2 hrs gap, we again assembled again for tea. We were taken for acclimatisation walk to the Juda ka Talab which was at little more steeper than our camp site location.

The story behind the ‘Juda ka Talaab’ is there are two lakes, one is mesmerising semi solidified lake that we see and other one is 100 ft underneath to that, they evidently joined sooner or later of time. We spent time playing with snow and taking pictures.

Day 3 – Juda ka Talab

After spending about 1 hour at “Juda ka Talab”, we descended back to Base camp. We witnessed Trek leaders and few local guides playing volley ball. We were served with hot soup and papads. Now the weather was getting colder as the day is coming to end. The temperature was dropped to -1 to -2 degrees, but our body had acclimatised for this change. It was dinner time and we had nice dinner with kheer. Post dinner, we went for a short walk around camp site itself. We were given strict instructions not to venture out in night time, as there would be wild animals around as this is their territory. Hence we all retired in our tents and comfortable sleep inside our sleeping bags. Thanks to Selfie and Adventure who safeguarded us from wild animals in the campsite.

The next day, routine begins with 7 – 8 – 9 plan & proceed to our next destination – Kedarkanth Base Camp which was at the altitude of 11,250 feet and it was 4 kms trek with again approx 3 hrs of journey. After breakfast we were given the demo of how to pitch our tents and pack it. Our trek leader was explaining us the importance of learning on trek when we learnt this pitching our own tents. Also he addressed the point on when we clear the camp site, we must make sure, we are environment friendly and we need to take care of that. We made sure all the papers and plastic are put in garbage bag which is disposed back at Sankri and not left behind on hills. Now, the journey again goes through Juda ka Talab and then proceed further towards next Base Camp. This trial comprises of 80% of snow and it was more scenic with amazing view points. Even though we were instructed not to stand in same place (view points) for long time to click photographs, we could not resist ourselves as the view was just amazing.

Day 4 – Kedarkantha Base Camp

Today’s stretch was short one contrasted with a day ago which we finished in 3 Hours with couple of long halts enjoying the snow trial.

As we approached the camp, the snow-capped stunning Peak was clearly visible from here. Finally reached Kedarkantha Base Camp by noon and as given demo by trek leaders, we all pitched our tents. This camp was coldest among all the other campsites where we had camped earlier. It was very windy and we had to be careful that our tents should be sturdy. Especially 4-5 tents were facing the windy side. We kept bags on the sides inside the tents and we had to keep the tents closed. The view from my tent was facing the beautiful giant hill view which was also sunset view point. We proceeded for lunch and after that we rested for a while and proceeded to explore the campsite as from this place we were encountering deep snow and it was of incredible fun. As usual per schedule after our evening tea & snacks (we had samosa today :P) we proceeded for acclimatisation walk around 1 hr. It was a great fun experience as the whole stretch was filled with snow. We played in snow and the best photoshoot area.

We descended to the base camp had soup and we were asked to assemble for briefing for next day as it was a “Summit Day” and it was the most difficult & longest day. During the briefing we were provided with crampons for hiking boots as we had to firmly walk on snow till the peak. After the briefing we were sooper excited and little terrified about the next day because of the weather conditions and we had to start of day at 5 am for the summit trek. At evening watching the sun setting behind the skyline and the last beams loving the sky was stunning perspective, it resembled a canvas painting with shades of pink, brilliant yellow lovely lit over our head, this air lifted the soul among every one of us and it was the excellent night I would recall for a long time. Just after sunset, the temperature sharply dropped and we started to shiver. First time i had travelled with an unknown group and it was all a learning experience. During this evening, I could interact with Wybe who was from Netherlands, we discussed about Research & Life. It was a great interaction. Later we all proceeded for dinner. The Night was intense as it was exceptionally blustery we fixing covers to tent to stay away from wind overflowing in. In high elevation with less climatic oxygen, sleeping is dependably an issue. During nights the temperature dropped to around -3 to -5 degrees and we experienced a light snowfall at around 3 am in the morning.

Day 5 – Kedarkantha Summit

We’re here for the challenge, we all woke up at around 5 am, so bracing the odd weather one by one stepped out from the tent. Had our morning tea and carried our packed lunch for our long trek this day. We were again briefed about the safety measures for the day. We lined up to start our trek towards the summit. The most relieving part of this day was to leave our huge backpacks at tent and carry only day pack where we had to carry only Water Bottle, phones, Torch, dry fruits, biscuits, trekking pole and medicines (if needed).

Each of us had to help each other amid this journey as it’s always team work that succeeds during these treks. We had to ensure we place our foot at right direction and in fresh snow and if by mistake set foot on hard and frozen ice, it would skid us immediately.

The trail was not easy, despite having the good trekking boots, I was facing difficulty to keep up my grip. The path was long and seems never ending and with every move, the difficulty level of trail keep on rising as depth of snow kept increasing on our trial, We can’t wander around and see things at distance as well. We had to move as a team, we will have to wait until the entire batch members reach at specific milestones as many of them including me were sliding at some point. After walking for about an half an hour, we took a break point and we were instructed to wear our crampons to our hiking boots to start our snow trek. The trial was very steep and with the -ve temperature it was difficult yet focussed to reach the top.

It’s Mighty Himalaya which never given you a chance to win so effortlessly, we were losing our breath, few of our confidence level was record-breaking low however none in our group quit anytime of time which is estimable. We trekked a few meters we witnessed astounding beauty of Himalayas surrounding us, we came across beautiful Himalayan herbs which was refreshing. Also our trek leader, Amit was sharing the real time experiences of localities, how they come from the village come to the the top of the hill to get the wood for their living. After few more meters of our trek we found a lonely bridge – lovely picture captured by Ankur – a co-trekker. After covering 50% of today’s trial we took a break of 10 min, where we relaxed a bit took a few photographs and proceeded our journey towards the peak. This patch of the trail gets quite tricky since there are no definite trail markings and one has to walk along the edge of the mountain. Here i had to hand over my DSLR to one of the trek leader – Amit as the trial is going to be super steep. We’re few meters away from the Summit and I was excited to reach the summit which was just 400 meters away from where I stand, that’s when I hit a roadblock. I slipped more than 2-3 times when I tried to climb the next milestone, and shear pain in my knee was increasing, I lost my confidence as fear engrossed me as we were on edge of the hill and one wrong move can be fatal for all of us as there were couple of people behind me. Only option was I make my way up , people lined up behind me can move up or they have to deviate into next route. Here comes my support, trek leader Amit bhai, giving me the confidence and pushed me up and then he moved forward held my hand and started walking with me. One of the funny incident during this journey was while we were moving further, me & few fellow trekkers asked our trek leader (Pawan also was around along with Amit) – Bhaiyaa aur kitna door chalna hai? (Brother, how much more distance is left?) Instantaneously we got an answer – bas thoda our fir paunch gaye (Only little more and we reach). Last few meters were strenuous as the altitude was very high and was close to 75 degree steep. Some of us had to leave our poles and use hands/palms to hold the rocks and climb. We reached the summit together. I reached the summit @ 12:15 PM. I would owe this summit success to my trek leaders – special thanks to Amit & Pawan bhai for saving me from the fall and I thank My God for making this happen.

Himalaya – The magical mountain, will always help us and I truly believe it, that’s the reason I’m attracted to you always. I reached the summit and joined my fellow trekkers and enjoyed the moment. I’m standing at 12500 ft and entire atmosphere just turned into a dreamland and I just thanked Kedarkantha for letting me cherish its beauty. From the peak one can get 360 degree view of Himalayan mountains. From the top, can see the Swargarohini, Bandarpunch, Kalnag peak and on the opposite side, will discover Yamunotri range. A portion of alternate pinnacles that could be visible were Jaonti, Gangotri, Draupadi ka Danda and Jorkanden, yet these pinnacles were not noticeable because of thick overcast cover.

We celebrated the moment enjoying the beauty of the mountains, some jumped with joy, some were taking pictures in all angles, setting up their ISO, Aperture & Shutter Speed of their cameras trying to get the best shot. I was flabbergasted by quietness of Himalayan extents, valued the serenity of the mountains. It was a blissful experience. We had our packed lunch at the peak and it was time for a group pic on the pinnacle, along with our Trek Leaders along with our dogs (Selfie & Adventure).

It was so breezy at best of the pinnacle, ohh my god !! Despite the fact that we were all layered up to 5-6 levels of clothing, we were not able to bear the biting cold. We got the chance to spend only 40 minutes at the summit, since the snow was getting elusive and it will get difficult to descend.

Woke up early morning with a beautiful sun rise & view of the Kedarkantha peak from base camp was just mesmerizing. The mountains and the days spent here helped me rediscover myself in such a significant number of ways. I never realized that I could live so frugally. I began esteeming each little piece of luxury that I had back home. I discovered that offering uninterrupted alone time is the best thing you can gift your body. It recuperates you physically, as well as mentally. The mountains had made me a more grounded individual, a superior individual. I saw myself in a way that I had never observed. My eyes twinkled with bliss and my face radiated with recently discovered vitality. I cherished my opportunity and felt blessed. It was our last day of trek and the we needed to say farewell to the beautiful mountains. Had yummy breakfast, packed our bags. After breakfast, we removed our tents and packed them. With a heavy heart we began our trek downhill. The trail and scenery kept changing as we started descending towards Hargaon (8900 ft). On the way back we enjoyed the sun, the cold breeze the stories, the walnuts, badamis shared by our co-trekkers. We filled our water bottles in the stream inside the forest. It was a muddy trial descending down. We reached our Sankri (6400 ft) by noon. We were allotted rooms at Hotel Wild Orchid Inn. We freshen up and had a great lunch. It was our last night stay in the mountains.

Day 6 – Sankri

We assembled again at 7 PM in evening for the celebration. Our trek leaders shared their experience with our group of trekkers. And each one of us shared the “wow” moment during the trek and how the experience was for us. Each one of us who completed the trek, was awarded with the “Certificate of Achievement” with the “SUMMITEER” stamp. This was the moment tears of joy rolled from my eyes as it was hard for me to believe that i could complete the trek. I had to pinch myself to believe that I had finally accomplished this feat, an experience so enthralling and soul satisfying. When everyone asks me how the experience was, I find it hard to put in words to express the exact feeling. All I can say is, just go there to experience it. It’s been more than a month and I’m still not over the Himalayas. At the point when in the mountains there is no outside world, no clamor and no flurry. As Edward Hillary quotes , “It’s not the mountain we conquer , but ourselves”. After the celebration, we as a whole had an incredible tasty supper and resigned in our rooms. This calls to the finish of Day 6.

Day 7 – Back to Dehradun

Next day morning, our TT’s were ready to drop us back to Dehradun from where we had started. With heavy heart, bidding bye to Himalayas for now, we boarded TT. On our way, we started catching up with mobile network after a week, called back home to inform that summit is completed and heading back safe. As usual, good things do not stay forever and it’s time to end the trek journey!!!

This journey would be incomplete if not for all co-trekkers, trek leaders who made the trek more lively.

We reached back Dehradun at evening 4:30 PM. We got dropped at our respective drop points. I checked into hotel, enjoyed my stay revisiting my experience of the trek. This calls to the finish of Day 7.

Next day morning – I had planned a day’s visit in Dehradun – coming up in my next edition. Headed to airport to fly back to Bangalore to my family & friends.

Himalaya teaches life lessons to make survive with what one can have and money can’t make you everything throughout everyday life 🙂 I am grateful to my mother, my biggest strength who have always pushed me to chase and fulfil my dreams and aspirations, allowed me to explore the world . I am lucky to have Ramya, my sister, who is my support system. Thank you for always believing & trusting in me and continuing to do so. I would like to thank Trek the Himalayas group for arranging such an amazing trek. Starting from arranging our campsites, to lunch and dinner to dropping us safely back to Dehradun. Hats off to the trek leaders who became our friends and guiding us throughout our journey.

Written By
Ranjani B S