To begin with, let us ask ourselves the below questions –
For how long have you been away from your mobile or completely out of network?
Have you ever managed to escape from office status calls, client meetings, releases, and targets?
When was the last time you contemplated nature and felt your breath?
Well, all the questions that I have raised above are the necessity of our day to day life or I should say it has become part of our life now but truly speaking don’t you sometimes feel to take a break and be away from all of your daily routines and commitments. Don’t you want to be in a place where in you are completely on your own? Don’t you want to be in a place which can recycle all your negative energies into positive ones? The answer is a simple big YES.
So, this blog is all about converting this ‘YES’ into reality. Plan a trek and spend some time on mountains. Believe me, if you could pull out a week’s time from your busy schedule than there are many Beginners Trek in India that you can give a try. Well doing it all on your own is definitely an option but in my opinion, try to do it via organized trek community.
- There are many advantages to it, first of all, you will not be alone you will be in a group of totally unknown individuals with whom you will spend your next four-five days.
- You will be under guidance and supervision of professionals especially under hostile climatic conditions wherein weather changes happens in minutes.
- You will not have to worry about your food and lodging as it will be taken care by organizers.
- Most important aspect is you will be worry free as you don’t have to plan anything you will just have to follow the instructions and enjoy your trip.
One such organization and for sure India’s best trekking community for Beginners Trek in India is Indiahikes.
Indiahikes offer all kind of treks from beginners level to professional levels. In this blog, I will share my story and experience that I had with Indiahikes during our Kedarkantha Summit. As said focus would be on my story in this blog and in my subsequent blog I will introduce you to some of the entry level treks which are offered by Indiahikes as my idea behind this blog is to encourage people like me to try out some mountaineering which can give them some time for themselves out of daily monotonous routine activities. For me, it was one of the best experiences in my life which I am now going to share by the virtue of this blog.
Guys and gals, get ready for a thrilling experience. Here we go, Mountains are calling…..
How did Trek Idea Clicked
It was 2013 year end and along with my wife, we were planning for some year-end trip. We were unsure about what to do and where to go. Then one evening I heard trekking experience from one of my friend who stayed at my place before going for his Trek. Listening to his experiences, thought of trying out a trek just crossed my mind. My friend did a trek with Indiahikes he talked highly about his experience and was very impressed with Indiahikes services and professionalism.
I instantly searched about year-end entry level treks and found some slots available in Kedarkantha Trek from 29th December till 2nd of January which was filling rapidly. I pitched in the idea of the year-end trek in mountains to my wife and to my wonder she agreed instantly. Without giving a second thought I booked my tickets as it was an entry level trek and we were confident that we will get through it. It all happened very spontaneously we were happy that we will try something very different in this year end, we were excited about it.
Our Preparation for Trek
Though we booked this trip without giving it a second thought but from next day we started researching about the complexity, requirements, and preparations for the trek. We went through some blogs in Indiahikes and got inspired by the fact that even for a 12-year kid it was kind of a cakewalk. Father Son duo was able to do it very easily knowing which boosted our confidence.
On preparation front, Indiahikes had mentioned that you have to start with some physical exercises like running for 3 KM’s or walking for 5 KM’s to tone up your body for the trek. I started by running few rounds of the nearby garden for few days but was never regular to it. My wife never did any of the recommended physical preparations.
Indiahikes also instructed on appropriate gears which will be required for the trek which we did not take that much seriously. It was a big mistake on our front, to be honest, gears costs more than trek but for any kind of serious treks appropriate gears are must and one should not neglect it as we did. I will be doing another blog which will cover all the details with regards to equipment, their importance, and learnings from our mistakes. Also, some cost effective solutions which can be alternate to costly equipment.
Journey to Sankri Village via Dehradun
As instructed by Indiahikes we all reached Dehradun railway station during early morning hours where we met with other fellow trekkers from all around the country. We casually met with each other and boarded on one of the cabs designated to us along with fellow trekkers who were from Coal India. It did not take much time for us to have a rapport going on among us and we had a splendid time with them on rest of our trip.
By evening we reached Sankri Village in Uttrakhand state where our base camp was located. The scenic beauty from Dehradun to Sankri is beyond words and we already started feeling freshness and pureness of air along our way. The cold fresh breeze of wind, the sound of running water through mountains helped in leaving stress and tensions far behind us. It was a complete hilly drive and along with our Coal India friends, we thoroughly enjoyed it we kept on capturing snaps along the way. On the way, we also took a halt at Kempty falls Mussoorie, a popular tourist spot.
At Sankri Village as expected it was very cold and night stay was arranged in one of the Hotels from where we were supposed to start our Trek in the morning. I must mention that arrangement was good and Hotel was small but very cozy and beautifully built out of wood.
As soon as we checked into our rooms we were instructed to get down to have our dinner in nearby Dhaba (roadside restaurant in India). As there was brief electricity outage that night in the village, we had candle light dinner in that Dhaba. The food was very delicious, we enjoyed every bit of freshly cooked, hot village style food.
Post dinner we all assembled in Hotel hall where we were introduced to the Indiahikes crew members who would be leading us in this Summit. After a quick prep talk from the team leader, I and my wife went to bed as we were supposed to wake up early and get ready for the trek. Though our fellow trekkers took the opportunity to know each other and not wasting time by sleeping early:)
Start of Trek and March Towards Juda Ka Talab
On the next day the day when the adventure was about to begin, we all assembled for starting the trek at 9:00 AM after having our breakfast at same Dhaba where we had our dinner last night. During our breakfast, trek crew members instructed that gears we were carrying will not work in mountains and we were instructed to buy some local stuff from nearby village shops. Well, we were skeptical about gears in offerings in Village but we had no choice we had to go by what was available as it was a matter of survival in hostile conditions. To be honest the gears did not let us down throughout our trek but still, I will write in detail about our experiences with these gears and my recommendations on what can be used in my next blog.
We all lined up and followed trek leader instructions, we were prep talked about rules and discipline that we have to follow throughout the trek. Of all what I liked most was we were strongly instructed to not leave behind any garbage during our treks. They gave us one orange bag in which we were supposed to throw all of our trash and also encouraged us to pick if we come across any junk during our trek.
Following it we started our Trek towards our first base camp Juda Ka Talab. Finally, with backpacks and pole stick we started ascending towards our first destination situated at 9100 feet. It was a great feeling to pass through mountain trails, going up and down, following your team in line and tall standing pine trees all along your way. The freshness of air and the green surroundings was breathtaking, it was all feel good factor.
We all started with great energy chanting “Kedarkantha Ki Jay” and were following each other in a line at quite a brisk pace. But gradually just after 15 minutes of trek most of us started feeling that it is not going to be easy as we started breathing fast and our trek leader was not allowing us to take a break to maintain the pace of the trek.
Another big mistake that we did was we packed too heavy for the trek and to be honest, we did not use even 40% of the stuff which we carried throughout our journey. Will be covering more on trek preparation in my upcoming blogs.
I think after our first 30 minutes of walk we got our first five minutes break which we utilized for having some refreshments and catching hold of our breath. Exactly after five minutes we again started ascending towards our base camp. I am not sure what changed but we were able to cope up with the pace of our trek leader and almost after 1.5 hours of walk we got our second break for around 30 minutes.
The place was so beautiful as it was covered with snow, it was our first experience with snow on this trek. We quickly got refreshed with some snacks that we were carrying and pulled out our cameras to click some snaps. This break allowed us to have an interaction at a stretch with some of our fellow trekkers we shared our refreshments, clicked few group snaps and played with snow. After this point, it was all snow and finally, after five hours of the trek, we reached our first base camp Juda Ka Talab.
What a feeling it was and especially what a beautiful place it was for the first time in my life I was seeing the frozen lake. I just cannot forget those moments whole area was covered with snow and frozen lake was like an icing on the cake.
Stay at Juda Ka Talab
By the time we reached this place I got fully tired and I was also feeling a lot of cold as this place was full of snow and temperature was -8 Degree Celcius. Basecamp already had tents installed and we were allotted our tents.
As soon as we reached this place we saw food was getting ready for us and we saw fire being burned in the kitchen to cook the food. Some of us thought of snatching this opportunity and get some heat from it but we were not allowed to go anywhere near to kitchen. So we stayed away from it and picked up our plates and spoons which we were instructed to carry along our trek and get ready for the lunch. The food was sumptuous and served hot in such chilly conditions, we enjoyed every bit of it as we were very hungry after 5 hours of long trek. I must say given the conditions that we were in Indiahikes cooking staff every time surprised us with their tasty food. More than the tasty food we were totally touched with love, care, and emotions they showed while treating us with delicious food.
If eating food was the most satisfying part the most worrisome part of the entire trip was washing your utensils once you are done with eating. As it was so cold we were just afraid of getting our hands wet in washing this stuff. Because once your hands get wet you just can not get it dry any soon, so as we all know necessity is a mother of all inventions I devised a way of washing our stuff. Instead of water I used Snow as a scrub and rubbed it on vessels using a spoon and ran water over it that’s it. I know it is a little awkward way of accomplishing this job but trust me this trip teaches you a lot such things. Basically over here survival is the challenge, where our busy life comes to an almost standstill and you start valuing every small thing. For example, most valuable thing for me in this trip was a spoon which helps you in not getting your hand dirty during eating and also assist you while washing your plate, glass and bowl.
After we were done with our eating we thought of relaxing but we were not allowed to do that instead we all went for another quick trek of another 100 feet. We did not understand why we were asked for this but later on, we have been told that it is an acclimatization walk. Since most of us were feeling cold at base camp we were moved to little higher altitude so that we can get adjusted with the base camp atmosphere. While descending from our trek we have been asked to carry a couple of wood logs for the bonfire.
Once we reached down our bonfire was lit up and we were served with a delicious tomato soup one of the best that I ever had in my life. It was a great evening spent together we started with cracking jokes then went on to play Ankatshri and Dumb Charades for rest of the evening until the fire got settled down. By now all of us got very much familiar with each other and we formed a great group which was enjoying each others company. After this, we had our dinner and we divided into small groups as none of us was willing to sleep, we continued with card games for a good couple of hours.
Finally, it was sleeping time and we moved towards our tents. When we were moving towards our tents we felt like something is falling on us, since it was very dark it took us some time to actually realize that it is snowing. All those who were in tents came out to enjoy the snow. After spending around half an hour we went back to our tents and tried to find some sleep. Within tents, we had our sleeping bags arranged by Indiahikes which was designed to shield you from almost -20-degree centigrade but still, I did not get a proper sleep.The whole night I was uneasy because of too much of cold which I was feeling on my feets and this story remained same for all nights which I spent on this trip. Meanwhile, it snowed whole night and continued next day as well.
March Towards Kedarkantha Base Camp
In morning we had our breakfast and were busy in playing with snow, making iceman, then doing snow slides what not. It was one of the best mornings we had on our trip. We also walked on frozen lakes got few clicks.
It was snowing so much that our crew leaders were unable to decide if we should make a move to Kedarkantha Summit basecamp or not. They were busy on their walky-talkies and trying to plan out a calculated move keeping the safety of trekkers in mind. After some brainstorming, they decided to make a move and we all were instructed to pack our stuff and march on to our next target Kedarkantha base camp. Truly speaking we were waiting to hear this from trek leaders as we did not want to leave this trek in between.
In between heavy snow, we started marching towards our next destination and to counter the heavy snow we were given crampons (spikes kind of thing) which we laid on top of our shoes sole so that we can have some grip while walking on snow. It was snowing heavily throughout our journey towards base camp, but with the help of proper gears and under the able leadership of Indiahikes crew we were able to reach our destination without much hassle. Though it looked like a simple walk on snow but from Indiahikes perspective it has to be a calculative move as they exactly know under such hostile conditions how weather can quickly change and can be dangerous.
Stay at Kedarkantha Base Camp
If Juda Ka Talab was absolute beauty than this base camp was a visual treat to your eyes. Place full of snow and surrounded with the Himalayas covered fully with snow. It was a perfect place to have base camp setup and Kedarkantha mountain top was visible from this place.
Looking it we were just curious can we really make it all the way to the Summit. Honestly, it was looking unrealistic from the place where we were present. Describing beauty of this place in words is just not possible, have a look at some of the great clicks we had at this place.
Again tents were already set up at this place for us and we were allotted our respective tents. I just forget to mention it was a special day of the year 31st December and we were at a place which can be easily considered as heaven on earth. Once again we had a delicious lunch and most wanted bonfire arrangement inside a small old hut. After our lunch, we gathered in that hut and our fun time with stories, songs, and dumb charades continued and not to forget the Bournvita Milk (this was a mandate for everyone and the Indiahikes crew ensured that nobody escapes this drink).
It was a very small place but somehow all of us around 27 members got accommodated inside it. By now our feets were also wet because of us walking and being in ice all time from the morning. We were trying our best to get our feets dry by exposing it to fire and get some heat in turn to maintain our body temperatures. While we were there busy in our activities we were also thinking how to celebrate the new year night. It was a big question as we were in a place which was totally remote and different from the kind of places where we have spent all our new year nights till now. Though we did not have any facility but we wanted it to be our most memorable new year night. After spending a whole evening under hut we went on to take our dinner and moved back to our tents, it was still snowing. It was snowing so much that it was almost certain that we will not be going for a Kedarkantha Summit next day.
New Year Night Celebrations
Most of our fellow trekkers were inside their tent and some of us were not willing to sleep until next year. So we got together and were thinking of ways to pass our time suddenly one of our fellow trekkers came up with a plan of having snowball fight right at 12:00 Clock. Smart minds liked this idea instantly and started thinking on improvisations and guess what we had a plan. We started with the construction of cannons which were snowballs. We made almost 100 snowballs within an hour.
Next, we decided to have two teams led by two ladies within our group. Teams also got decided, it was total dark as there was no light. We were managing with our torch lights, and we asked every trekker to come up with their torch lights so that we can provide required lighting to our main event. As we also wanted to cover it in our cameras. We also designated few torch holders and a couple of cameramen who were not participating in the battle of snowballs.
We divided snowballs evenly between two teams and with some of the snowballs we wrote 2013 and 2014. The plan was two of the team leads on the clock of 12 will march forward and will erase 2013 with their legs and as soon as they will do it both teams will start firing snowballs at each other. The plan worked perfectly it was nearing 12 both captains marched forward as planned and right on the clock of 12 they dismantled 2013, torch lights and camera recording was ON as soon as we got into 2014 next one minute was just hilarious.
Both teams got heavily engaged in snow battle in the click of a second 100 snow balls got vanished some landed on teams and some landed on cameramen and torch holders. Basically, no one got spared from a hit and everyone just got wild with this game it looked like a real war scenario and no one thought it was going to be such an engaging and exciting event. Literally, without any resources, we celebrated one of our best new year celebrations ever. I am sure none of us will ever forget that moment. Thanks to the gentlemen who came up with such a brilliant idea and to all fellow trekkers who participated wholeheartedly in this event.
We were settling down within the minutes of the new year, that is when we saw a beam of light was marching towards us from the old hut where we had our bone fire and which was also our kitchen. Guess what in such conditions Indiahikes crew prepared a special cake for us, they were not ready to let it go like that. We all gathered once again and this time for cake cutting ceremony, it was a great gesture from Indiahikes towards us and this event made the celebration even more memorable. Not to mention but the cake was utterly delicious and the timing of it just made it all the more special.
One more interesting thing happened immediately after we entered into the new year. Guess what? It stopped snowing suddenly and for the first time hope of making it till Summit looked possible. On a very positive note, we started our new year and finally, we all went back to our tents to find some sleep.
It was the first day of 2014 and we all were far away from our families, friends, office, phone calls and what not. There was absolutely nothing which could have diverted our attention from enjoying such a beautiful morning in arms of the great Himalayas. We all got ready after our early morning breakfast, we were suppose to leave by 8 AM for our Summit.
The weather was good and without wasting any further time our trek leaders led us towards our Summit. Well it was all heavy snow along the way and walking on that was not that easy, but with crampons and pole, we were able to manage it. It was good 3 to 4 hours of ascending that too without any substantial break. Our trek leaders were quite aggressive with the pace as they wanted to get the Summit done as soon as possible. They did not want to take any chances on the weather though it was good throughout our way. As we were reaching near to our destination taking even a single step was getting tougher, I was pausing after every 4 steps and was counting my breath for five times. This trick helped a lot and also gave us required pause without breaking our continuity.
Finally inch by inch and step by step we made it to the top, what a moment it was. We felt a great sense of accomplishment as we concurred Kedarkantha Peak, a sigh of relief and a great confidence booster which deserved a pat on the back award. If the sense of reaching there was so terrific than experiencing the magical view from the top is just speechless.
It was a clear view of all the mountain tops from the Kedarkantha peak, the view of the valley, the music of the wind, the blue sky literally we were on top of the world and were experiencing a feeling which is going to stay until our last breath. We along with fellow trekkers started capturing some group snaps and memories which we can revisit again and again. Somehow after reaching the top all of our pain and fatigue were completely gone, we were refreshed again.
We stayed there for about half an hour and then we started moving back to our base camp. While descending down we did not felt any pain or tiredness, though was a steep slope at some places but as such walk down was way easier than trekking up.
We reached back our base camp in a couple of hours, had our lunch and packed our bag packs for next camp site Hargaon. It took us around 1.5 hours to reach Hargaon, which was again a very beautiful place to have a campsite.
Stay at Hargaon and Our Return to Sankri
During the return, Hargaon was our last camp and our last opportunity in this trip to be in the snow for one more time. By this time we all had a sense of accomplishments and we all from fellow trekkers become great friends. It was evening time, the sun was about to set in an hour, the environment was beautiful and lighting was perfect for having a photo shoot. By the time we were done with photography our evening snacks were ready and post snacks we were back on a bonfire.
We found a great story teller among us whose stories were just amazing and never ending, he kept everyone engaged with his amazing endless tales and also kept a bonfire going. In between his stories, we sang some group songs and spent some quality time together after all that was our last get together on this trip. What a great evening that was, and what a group it was, Summit would not have been so great without such wonderful fellow trekkers.
We spent our whole evening near camp fire and by this time our delicious dinner got ready. As it was our last night in base camp Indiahikes greeted us with a special dinner which we all had together sitting in a tent which was also their kitchen. It was an emotional moment for all of us, we acknowledged each other accomplishments and thanked Indiahikes crew members for all their support, love and care they showered on us. Honestly speaking India Hikes is one the most disciplined and professional organization that I had ever seen.
We all were tired by now but no one was willing to go back and end the beautiful journey that we traveled together. I think very late at night we went to our tents to find some sleep as next morning we were descending down towards our base camp in Sankri village from where next day we were supposed to go back to our home.
Next morning there was no hurry as we had a lot of time and this time we had to walk all the way down on terrains and not on snow. It was quite a long journey for us not that difficult but was little dangerous so we had to be utmost cautious. As we were heading down on rugged mountain terrains which had formations of hardened black ice on it, chances of slipping down were quite a lot and uneven surface, the slope was making it even worse. Still, we managed to reach down to Sankri village without any major issues and eventually our trek came to an end.
Our stay was arranged in government guest house which was quite a decent place and for the first time in last four days, we changed our clothes and had a bath. By now we all had developed a habit of sitting around a bonfire and playing our routine games. Somehow no one was getting bored of it, but this time we had no arrangement for it as our trip was officially ended. But on our special request, Indiahikes arranged bonfire for us on the fly.
Not only bonfire but this time few more Indiahikes crew leaders who were there to lead next team to the Summit joined us in Dumb Charades. Post bonfire along with Indiahikes trek leaders our party continued in guest rooms and no one was willing to sleep. We all developed a great friendship among us and no one was ready to go back. One of the trek leaders eventually told that:
“this is the first group who after doing a Summit still wants to stay back and do not have any desire to go back”
Seriously the 2013-2014 new year Kedarkantha trekkers group was special and without such wonderful people, it would not have been the same experience. I don’t know if we will ever do a trek again, but certainly, while writing this blog I relived all those moments which I cannot forget throughout my life.
So, what are you waiting, book a trekking tour right away to HIKE THE MOUNTAINS – Run through Meadows – Explore Forests – Breath the Wild Air – Gaze at the Stars – ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD …
All the Best!!