KEDARKANTHA TREK – THINGS YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT this snow Himalayan Trek
Kedarkantha Trek!!! The name itself gives me goosebumps and those butterflies in my stomach. With so much contemplation I decided to go for my first Snow Himalayan Trek. It was my 50th Birthday gift to me.I never thought someday I would trek up to the Himalayas. The Himalayas are not just snow-capped mountains they are emotions. At the height of 12,500 feet, passing through rough terrains of pine trees forest, mesmerizing views of the magnificent Himalayan range, layer of white snow all over was like an icing on the cake and a good company made this trek a memorable one.
I had always dreamt of a snow Himalayan Trek but never thought it would come true just like that. I had just come back from my snow family vacation from Himachal Pradesh. Without even researching enough, I just booked for Kedarkantha Trek because I wanted to. After reading a couple of blogs and seeing the videos, I had a vision, but the Kedarkantha Trek is beyond imagination and words. The 360 degrees view of the snow-capped Himalayas, tall green Pine trees, snowy ascending trails, a row of trekkers in colourful jerseys, tok-tok sound of ponies carrying our luggage, streams flowing through rocks with ice-cold water, even though there was so much greenery but with snow all around everything looked like a black and white painted landscape of a hilly region.
Story of Kedarkantha
Kedarkantha is often mistaken for Kedarnath. After talking to locals, I learnt about the popular story of Kedarkantha. All those who aspire to trek Kedarkantha must know about it. As the name says Kedarkantha, which means a place where throat of Kedar (Lord Shiva) resides. The locals believe Lord Shiva before heading towards Kedarnath meditated here for a week.
There are a lot of blogs and vlogs on Kedarkantha Trek giving every detail. My serious concern was the difficulty level of the trek. Now the difficulty level is very subjective. Most of the blogs said it is an ideal trek for beginners, but trust me ‘it can be the first snow trek for beginners Himalayan Trekker’. A prior trekking experience is a must. Located at 12500 feet above the sea level, Kedarkantha is one of the most fascinating and doable Himalayan Trek for beginners.
Day 1- Dehradun to Sankri Village
Sankri, about 8-10 hours’ drive from Dehradun is the basecamp for Kedarkantha Trek. We left Dehradun early morning by 8 a.m. to reach Sankri by 6 p.m. after having tea, coffee, lunch and bio breaks. Passing through deep valleys, River Yamuna flowing through the route, bright and happy mustard fields, twists and turns and tall pine trees is all you will perceive en route. The route itself will make you feel the mighty Himalayas. We did stop in between a couple of times to have lunch and spend some time near the river banks. Soaked up our feet in the flowing river and felt like a child again.
Sankri is a small village, growing crops for their local consumptions. At 6000 feet above the sea level, it is the base camp for Kedarkantha Trek.
Most of the staying options like homestays, budget hotels, rented accommodations are available here. They are very comfortable with self-contained rooms and bathing hot water facilities.
Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food is available easily. A variety of local and seasonal fruits are also available here.
Trekking gears like shoes, trekking poles, winter wear, etc. are available on hire.
There is a market where you will easily find backpacks, woollens, shoes, jackets, clothes, Tibetan handicraft, food items and other knick-knacks.
Day 2- Trek from Sankri to Juda ka Talaab
The trek starts from Sankri which is about 6000 feet above sea level. We started trekking from Sankri at 10 a.m. after a wholesome breakfast and after taking our trekking accessories. It was a little sunny but pleasant as the temperature was nearly 10 degrees.
Walking through dense pine and deodar forest, muddy trails, breath-taking glimpses of snow-clad mountains, chill wind, and gradual gradient made the climb to Juda Ka Talaab base camp effortless.
Frozen Lake or popularly known as Juda ka Talaab at the height of 2700 meters high left us speechless. Surrounded by a thick layer of snow and tall pine trees, Juda ka Talaab gives you access for photography. Juda ka Talaab was a kilometre away from our base camp. It took about 5 hours which is approximately 5 km, for us to reach the base camp. We touched the basecamp by 3 p.m. and were hungry to the core. They advised us to take rest and get acclimatize with the temperature and snow. We saw Juda ka Talaab on the second day while trekking up towards the Kedarkantha Base campsite as it was on the way.
After indulging into a heavy and hearty meal we walked around exploring the area, playing games and taking pictures but of course. We were tired by the end of the day but excited for the next day.
The night was very cold. There was no way we could check the temperature, but it felt like -10 degrees. The tented accommodation was in twin/triple sharing. Even though they provided us two blankets still we had to layer ourselves with 2-3 thermals.
At Juda Ka Talaab campsite
It is around 5 km from Sankri and approximately 9000 feet above the sea-level.
Look for the beautiful frozen lake- walking on the lake is not allowed for safety reasons.
At this point, your trek company provides you Gaiters and Spikes. They protect you from slipping on the snow.
Keep your thermals, caps, waterproof gloves handy. It becomes hot and sunny at day time and nail-biting cold at night.
Tea / Maggie points are available at this pit stop.
Temporary washrooms are available closer to the tents.
Day 3- Juda ka Talaab to Kedarkantha Base Camp
We started our next day’s trek around 9 a.m. from Juda ka Talaab base campsite after breakfast. Juda ka Talaab was just a kilometre away from the base campsite towards the Kedarkantha Base campsite. It was a sunny day, and the trek was becoming very challenging. When the sun shines, snow melts and the route becomes slippery and slushy. Some of our fellow trekkers who didn’t get their spikes and gaiters had a tough time. They slipped a couple of times.
Magnificent mountains, deep white snow, freshwater streams and not so green trees, the surrounding was just so spectacular. Even though everything looked black and white it was a visual treat. The gradient gets steeper and exhausting from this point, especially for the first-timers. We started to enjoy the trek even more as we were getting closer to the base campsite. There was a mixed feeling of nervousness and excitement. All through I was thinking “will I be able to do it or not?”, “will my lungs support me?” (Being asthmatic), “Will my knees support me?” (First snow trek at the age of 50 is no joke) and so many other thoughts. But by the time I was looking for answers, it was already 5 km, and we had almost reached the Kedarkantha Base campsite. It was around 4 p.m. there was some light for us to take pictures even though we were tired. The first glimpse of Kedarkantha Peak energized us three times. The temperature started descending. The tents were installed on the snow.
We were not allowed to rest as the dinner was scheduled early. We loafed around by playing games, dancing, singing and everything we could do. By then us all knew each other and were building up each other’s morale for the summit.
While the dinner was served we were briefed by the guides about the summit trek.
It is around 11000 feet above sea level and 4 km trek which takes about 4 hours to reach summit base camp.
The gradient gets steeper from this point
Look for jaw-dropping views of magnificent Himalayas
There are hardly any tea points.
Day 4- Kedarkantha Summit
Finally, the time came we were waiting for so long. Guide briefed us before dinner about the summit, trek route, precautions, dos and don’ts and the challenges we might face during the trek.
The trek starts at 2 a.m. to the unprecedented summit by sunrise. It was a nail-biting cold night with -10 degrees temperature. Even the layers of clothing couldn’t pacify us.
They served us milk and broken wheat porridge (Daliya), good carb and protein combination of breakfast preparing us for the trek. We filled our insulated water bottles with warm drinking water.
The gradient from here becomes even more steeper and challenging. All we need to do was to follow the torch lights of fellow trekkers. It was pitch dark, and we were following the queue of trekkers. After climbing for nearly three hours, we saw some light. It was a cloudy day, and less likely we could witness a sunrise.
When there was a little more light, I saw myself almost at the height of 12000 feet closer to the summit. The view of sky-touching majestic Himalayas, white deep snow all over and fellow trekkers making their way to the peak was breath-taking. I couldn’t believe that I have climbed so much.
At about just a kilometre away from the summit, I started feeling tired and breathlessness. The guide informed there is no stopping there or going back as descend is from the other side. I had no option but to move further towards the peak. With a little extra effort and motivation by my fellow trekkers, we finally made it to the Kedarkantha Peak.
The josh was very high at the summit and was so thrilled to have made it to the peak. There were so much energy and positive vibes. We all forgot how tiring and strenuous the climb was. As believed, Lord Shiva meditated here before proceeding towards Kedarnath.
There was no limit to taking photos on the top. We could not witness the sunrise since it was very cloudy. We stayed at the top for about half an hour as it was very windy and cold.
Descend was not as easy as it looked. One has to either slide, sit and crawl or walk. Some of the trekkers managed to slide and were enjoying it too. Walking down against gravity was challenging.
One must have a prior experience of trekking to handle situations like these.
Trek to the summit starts at 2 a.m.
Wear woollens/thermals in layers
Drink a lot of water the previous night to have oxygen level above 92%
Make sure you have your breakfast served by the organizers.
Keep some dry fruits or energy bars for the last day of the trek.
The last leg of the trek is strenuous and takes about 4 hours to reach the top.
Keep your phone/camera batteries in a warm place/wrapped in your woollen clothes. It gets discharged very fast in cold weather.
Do carry your day pack as you do not get anything to eat or drink on the way.
Descend looked so long. It was never-ending. There were hardly any trails and at some places we had to walk in 6 inches of snow. Our shoes were caving in, and our core strength came to our rescue.
The 360 degrees views of majestic Himalayas, tall pine and deodar trees and snow all over were worth the efforts. It was my first snow trek, and I am so motivated for many more.
Do not take the trek as an easy one. It can be your first snow Himalayan Trek, but prior trekking experience and physical fitness are mandatory.
The cost of the trek from Dehradun to Dehradun starts from Rs 7000 to 9000 depending upon the accommodation, travel etc. services you use.
Carry lots of woollen clothing.
Keep yourself hydrated throughout the trek.
DO NOT LITTER
YOU CAN ALSO CHECK THE VIDEO OF KEDARKANTHA TREK @ http://tanhadil.in/videos/