Kedarkantha Trek Stories-Final Climb

Read Part I and Part II here

Summit day
We were given strict briefing the previous night to wake up early and be ready to start climbing at 5:30am sharp. At negative temperatures it becomes quite a difficult task. But neverthless we managed to gather ourselves in a queue like school kids by 5:45 am on this day while few still struggled to find their gloves or head cap in the last moment but the leader asked us to move ahead already. Timing is crucial because the weather is not in your control and missing the window of good weather is not the risk a trek leader is willing to take. It was still very dark so we had to use our torches. We were carrying a daypack today along with essentials. I can't thank myself enough to carry a hydrapack. It reduces the effort to drink water during the climb by almost 90% if I can quantify it. It was important to carry water as there will be no source of water to refill.

The ascend looked very steep in the beginning. Half of us got tired within 30 mins of starting the climb and started halting often to catch some breath. We kept moving slowly and steadily. There was no snow to be seen anywhere but we did face the dangerous and slippery verglas ice, which we otherwise would have not noticed if it wasn't for the guides with us. Its a thin slab of ice so slippery that even the most of the expert trekkers would avoid stepping on it.

I was carrying a fruit, camera and the hydration pack in the daypack on this ascend. The heaviest jacket soon started to turn sweaty but it will prove to be very useful to protect from the strong winds at the top. There is one small hut on the way where you can get some eggs, maggi, tea etc but I didn't take anything here, except for some rest. I realised that its better to stand and catch some breath rather than sitting because when we sit the body gets cold very fast and its even more difficult to get up again. And then you have to start again to catch up with the pace you had attained. By now the sun was up and shining bright.

At the same time strong winds started to push us and the trek poles helped to keep us grounded. The winds will only get stronger at the top. There were some slow members in the group but the Indiahikes staff was always with us and waited for the slowest members to catch up with rest of us and that the gap within the group is reduced. There were few other groups as well from different trek operators. As it always happens, yes some of the guys in other groups were blasting out loud music not from the phone this time, but bluetooth speakers to make it worse. I just hate this kind of behaviour in peaceful places like mountains.

So here we were, finally at the peak of Kedarkantha. The guide with us did some pooja to the deity and we spent some time clicking photos and listening to the story behind the peaks. Kedarkantha has its own story related to Shiva-Bheem. I would say it was not that much of a difficult climb. That means I still need to go to a proper difficult trek. May be soon. Still it was no less than an achievement for all of us because we overcame our own doubts if we were capable of making it to the top or not. After spending about 20 mins at the top, the descend is tricky, if not difficult. You have to keep shifting your weight to avoid falling and the whole weight of the body falls on your feet. At this moment the trek poles again, were very useful to distribute the weight while descending. We stopped at the same hut again for refreshments, and every break is a photo opportunity needless to say.

We reached the base camp by lunch time and after lunch we headed to the next stop for today which was Hargaon, almost at the same altitude of JKT and yet another a very beautiful campsite for us. It was a supermoon that night and the view is even more beautiful if you are seeing it in a clear sky from such an altitude. Unfortunately I lost some of these pics from my camera due to some error.

By now, the group had accepted the 'pure' conditions of washing their own dishes in freezing cold water and waking up in chilling mornings. I think the biggest learning and outcome of the whole trek is that we learnt to overcome these challenges. Personally for me these are things which make the trek a true experiene keeping the comfort and luxury away. Anyways coming back to Hargaon, after reaching here at this beautiful campsite everyone was kind of relieved that the next day was relatively a shorter trek of 3.5km only for the descend. Since it was the last day of camping, the cook at this campsite prepared a farewell cake for us which all of us appreciated. Not to mention that making a cake in such conditions is an extremely difficult task, leave alone cooking. After dinner we sat in the dining tent discussing random things, from engines to travel, jobs to motorcycles all of which together made interesting conversations.

Back to Base
An easy day today because everything seemed to be easy now compared to what we left behind. Walking through the woods and with dogs as company, we reached Sankri guest house by noon where the lunch was waiting for us. Everyone took their own time to relax at the terrage soaking up some sun. There was a closing briefing where everyone shared their experience and learnings from the trek. Indiahikes team recognized two of us by giving 'Spirit of Trekking' award and I was one of them which gave me a sense of satisfaction, I must have done something right..or may be many things. There were photos and certificates given to all. You can also purchase the trek t shirt at cost.

After all this we took sometime to relax but in the evening a bonus was waiting for us when the trek leader invited all of us for a walk to Sankri village. We got to see the local houses and we actually went in one of them where we were welcomed with much warmth and smiles. They gave us a local dish and I am unable to recollect its name. There is a pic below so if you know what is it called please comment! Oh and I also met this beautiful cute girl Prachi and I had to take a selfie with her which you can see below (I certainly remember her name :P). It was a happy visit where we experienced the hospitality of the locals. I kept thinking, why would anyone make all these efforts for a group of strangers...and we walked back to the guest house.

The Ride Back
I just can't stress enough on the fact that riding back from Sankri to Gurgaon in a single day was a really BAD IDEA. Even though I started early morning by 6:30am, it turned out to be a really long day on road making me take many frequent breaks for hydration etc. Nothing much to write about the return journey except for what I have to mention about this petrol pump guy. He was so impressed with my bike that he did not let me go and asked me to sit and talk to him and offered me a tea. I could not refuse and played along because I didn't want to come across as rude lol. But its nice to see such kind gestures from strangers on road. Anyways I should have broken the journey into two days and that's what I will advise to anyone reading this and trying to attempt the same. I reached home at about 9pm and had covered about 475km with some back breaking stretches. Luckily the bike never fails to perform and keeps me going.

One thing I have realized, a trip which involves both riding and trekking is the real fun!
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