At the top of the snow covered summit, his breath came out like steam, releasing some of the heat from his body and mind into the cold mountain air. He made a strange, albeit stunning picture. Matted flowing hair, broad shoulders and rippling muscles and those magnetic eyes. The scar in the centre of his forehead seemed almost like a third eye, that which made people fear him, some revere him and some even worship him! It tickled him no end that people would want to worship him. It was from them that he wanted to escape now. Ears yearning for the music of silence, he seemed to have found the perfect spot, away from the maddening crowd, on the summit of this snow covered mountain. He could see snow as far as his eyes could roam, a beautiful white carpet. Serene, he thought and the quiet that his mind craved for.Planting his Trishul in the crevice between the rocks, through the snow, he surveyed what he thought was going to be his home for some time to come….
From a distance came the mooing of a cow and Shiva turned in blazing anger…the peace and quiet he so craved for was still out of his reach. A cow, meant human settlement close by and so he knew he had to move quickly out of this place. His strong legs carried him down in a flash, he saw the cow guilty of breaking his solitude and it seemed to sense his pulsating anger and ran..Shiva ran behind it..and he then saw another hill top, another seeming end to his search for solitude and decided to camp there, a place that came to be known as Kedarnath and the place where he had left his trishul glinting in the sunlight was called Kedarkantha..
It was to Kedarkantha that I trekked last month and oh what a trek it was! (Don’t I say that about every trek in the Himalayas?!)
What you are going to read next is my best effort at a succinct recap of our trek. So here goes..
It was a dream team for me. what with my besties Polly, Myc + wifey and Yashu joining me on this trek!
As always we chose IndiaHikes to go with on this outing of ours as well.
We landed at Dehradun late in the night and headed to a hotel called ‘Mandakini’ – clean, with hot water. No frills. (The cab driver had this to say of the Ghadwali people, recording it for posterity ‘Soorya asth tho Ghadwali mast’ :P )
Headed off for dinner at a wonderful place called Kumar’s. Amazing paranthas,dal-chawal, rajma, paneer…veggie delight. Thanks to Polly for finding this gem.
We also had wonderful strawberries with anardana masala – a must try if you ever happen to visit Dun.
Me and Polly were riveted by an old bookstore and ear marked it to visit on our way back to Bangalore.
We were to meet all our trek mates at the railway station and me and Myc were the proud transport co-ordinators :P
So we left all the other lazy bones behind and headed off to the railway station at around 6 AM and managed to round up most of the trek participants and co-ordinate transport by around 8 AM..except for one lady whose phone had gotten switched off. This gave us some anxious moments but she turned up at the nick of time and we were all glad to get going to Sankri which was to be our first camp.
We reached Sankri in the evening and had yummy food along the way. A few of us had nausea while travelling the winding mountain roads and my lactose intolerance flared up pretty bad as we gained altitude. A word of caution to anyone planning to trek in higher altitudes – your weakness and vulnerabilities are at their worst. So try avoiding salads/any uncooked food. Also for people like me, avoid milk/maida products.They can play havoc with your digestive system.
Day3:( Sankri – 6400 Ft to JKT – 9100 Ft)
Slept through the raging wind and rainfall to wake up at 5 AM. Stomach upset worsened. Met up with our on-trek doc Atul. he suggested antibiotics and I wanted to run in the opposite direction. He then gave me lomotin and enterogermina tablets and this coupled with diet brought the stuff under control.
A wonderful breakfast of eggs, bananas and bread butter jam. (I hogged several peoples’ share of bananas since I couldn’t eat anything else.) Incessant rainfall and our chances of starting the trek looked bleak, when suddenly the skies cleared up and our trek leads Ravi, Chaman, sanju and Ram Mohan decided to start to trekking.
I will always remember the military style pep talk by Raj Mohan and especially the words of Chaman – ‘Himalay jab thappad detha hai, tho uski goonj sunai nahi dethi hai’ as he referred to the Uttarakhand floods last year and urged us to do our bit in cleaning up the mountains.
A few minutes into the trek, sun started playing hide and seek with the clouds again and in some time, we were hit by hail storm. Me being the snow-newbie, thought it was snowfall as the small hail stones settled down like snow in crevices and tree tops. This was a totally unexpected change of weather and we got reports that there was snowfall at our next campsite ‘Juda-ka-talab’. I love trekking in the rain and the news of snow fall just egged me on to reach the next campsite faster.
We reached Juda ka Talab in around 5 hours and here my dreams of seeing snowfall came true. The campsite turned into a fairyland, a very cold one though, for which many of us were under-prepared.
The night sky was a beautiful one..I have never seen so many stars at a time ever!
JKT snowfall – on the ascent
Day 4: (JKT to KK base – 11250 Ft)
Woke up after a very restless night. The snow jackals had come to our camping grounds in search of food and the three dogs which had followed us from Sankri had tried to chase them away and there had been howling and barking through the night..
Our shoes had frozen, the laces were standing up frozen as if in high alert! It took us quite a while to tie up our shoes!
As always food with indiahikes was awesome and we had our fill of pranathas and black tea and headed off for the short trek to the KK base camp.
the trek was relatively easy and most of us completed it in 2-3 hours. No further snowfall and the skies remained clear.
KK base camp will always be a wonderful memory. i had my first snow fight and made my first snowman. Slid down snow slides and had the maximum fun ever.
We had our lunch and after a bit of rest, we were taught to pitch tents, use ice axes and other stuff. we then headed off for a trial walk till the winter base camp which was almost another 3 hours climb up and back. This walk really helped us acclimatize faster as at higher altitudes, we are always advised to climb higher and sleep lower.
Day 5:(KK base to KK summit – 12500 Ft)
Woke up at 4:30 AM to a brilliant starry sky. Saw the frozen water near the toilet tent and all thoughts of brushing my teeth fled from my mind.
Changed into trekking gear, packed our bags and wore our crampons and headed off for breakfast. at 6:10 we were all ready and raring to go. we all got another talking to from our beloved Chaman on being late by 10 minutes – “Hum kya joker lagte hain aapko?!”
He was right of course, as the snow would start to melt and become soft as the day progressed and our window for climbing the summit was only till 11:30 AM.
The first ten minutes of summit climb, I felt the altitude and found it very difficult o breathe. I had forgotten to take my diamox the day before..maybe that was the reason. I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, but plodded along for a few more minutes and felt much more better.
The summit climb was a teaser – every time we thought the summit was in sight, it was just another mound/hillock that had to be crossed and we had hours to go before we reached the summit.
After another 4-5 hours of gruellingly steep climb and also using ropes for the steeper part of the climb, we reached the summit and what a feeling it was! we were all hugging each other (maybe because of the unbearable cold as well :P), congratulating each other and oh! just feeling elated and on top of the world. (thanks Jiya for the ‘go Priyanka go’ mantra every time I even felt like stopping..)
After lot of photographs and description of the other summits nearby, Chaman told us the story of the KK peak that you read initially. he said that his great grandfather used to see a red cow run by whenever he climbed the summit and for a moment i could almost see it too.
Getting down was the most fun. No wonderla can come close to sliding down a few hundred metres on the Himalayan slopes! Special thanks to Chaman for making sure I lost any fear I had of sliding down those seemingly endless, steep slopes :P
We were back at KK base camp for lunch and headed off to JKT in an hours time. On our way down I saw and experienced what a trickster the Himalayan mountain side can be. The same paths which were covered with snow, were today green and small rivulets flowed everywhere. There were little flowers blooming, drying pine cones on the ground and JKT was green and warm and sunny!
I felt grateful to the Himalayas for letting me see two of its guises in a single trek – each one more beautiful than the other.
JKT on the way back!
We had dinner around a camp fire..lot of chit chat and went back to bed and woke up to another gloriously sunny day. A couple of our socks and gloves had dried off. We hung our trek pants on our trek poles and they dried off in a few minutes. You tend to really appreciate dry clothes after trudging along in partially wet ones for a couple of days!
The embers of the campfire still burned and we had our breakfast and chai around it.
We got down to Sankri in the laziest fashion possible , enjoying the scenery , each others company, eating the rhododendron flower stems and cleaning up the mountain side as we climbed down. (the Forest officials take plastic disposal very seriously and we were warned as we had not strapped on our eco-bags- where we were supposed to collect the waste, not that any of us were littering, but felt good to be scolded for all the wrong reasons!)
Back to Sankri, amazing food again (simple clean healthy and I guess the mountain air contributes quite a bit!). Developed a bad cold by the end of the evening and slept through most of the evening and night.
Woke up another bright day. Had our chai and started to Dehradun. had some yummilicious paranthas on the way and stayed in a beautiful guest house called Darsh residency aka Sardarji ka guest house.
Friendly staff and great service. great value for money. Thanks to our four 16 year old trek mates!
We freshened up and went to the old book store. Met with the wonderful lady who owned the place.It was nice to deal in books with a person who was also passionate about them. we had dinner at a wonderful chinese place and headed back to our guest house.
Flew to Bangalore and reached home at around 8 PM. Back to my wonderful baby and the lovely family and that my friends completes my trek.
I have to mention the two eleven year olds and Mugdha and Ashish and Atul who are veteran trekkers and who were an inspiration to all of us.
Also Naina, our cook. He was the same one who had accompanied us in the Kashmir trek. His cooking is the best!
The three dogs that accompanied us from sankri to Sankri!
The fun loving bunch of sixteen year olds…you made us feel young again!
I think I should stop now..oh! but..
The mysore (co) sisters who blew us away with their determination and stamina.
Polly you are a hero for attempting this trek and finishing most of it.
yashu..you are my trek sister. You know I love you :D
I think I should really stop now…
So close yet so far..the KK summit
Yashaswini and Raghavendra