This blog was originally published here.
Travel is liberating, no doubt. But there are times when you pick a new destination to rebel. Trust strangers, scream in the mountains, slide on the snow, pay attention to the unknown and live like a nomad. There is a charm in being rebellious about your existence and living deeply. When people ask me how I fund my travel, I always say that the logic is simple – I invest in experiences and not in things. It is much more comforting for me.
Once I hit the 25ish mark, the social pressure of conforming seemed to kill my vibe. I was expected to be perfect at home, job, deadlines, and even while searching for “the one” – but once I started flirting with the idea of imperfections, everything started falling into place. I started travelling alone to places as it seemed better than travelling in with friends.
Kedarkantha was one of those treks that I’ve heard stories about from so many people, but I was yet to explore it. this is one of the most explored treks in Himalayan ranges and you get to see all the 13 peaks from the peak of kedarkantha. Any new nomad who wants to explore Himalayan ranges can start from kedarkantha as the altitude is less comparatively. It is so true that the mountains should call you till then you cannot conquer them no matter what, trust me it’s not a just fact, but, it’s totally true. You don’t just make up your mind to go on a trek, get your leaves approved from the most annoying manager, get flights at cheaper costs and the weather conditions is a must.
TIP: This blog on the Ultimate Winter Trekking Guide from TrekNomads was really helpful!
I wonder ” Why do we even try when the barriers are so high and the odds are so low? why don’t we just pack it in and go home? it would be so much easier. It is because in the end there is no glory in ease. No one remembers easy. They remember the Struggles the pain the long and agonizing fight to the top and that’s how you become legendary“.
Deadlines workload, year-end targets we all had the same boring life, 14 November 2018 me and my friend Priyanka planned to go on a vacation. We checked many places but we didn’t find anything suitable then came on a website. Goa and Kedarkantha were such strong competitors that the battle went on for 3 months. Finally on 13 Feb 2019, I planned to go alone on the trek. But work never allows you to take decisions that sudden. But unfortunately, I couldn’t plan for another 2 years. As the saying goes – you cannot conquer the mountains unless the mountains call you.
Naveen Mallesh the founder of trek Nomads sent a message that he is going to lead this trek from Feb 13-21-2021. My first taught was that I cannot join as it’s 10 days long trip and we all know how difficult is to get holidays so said I’ll think and let him know but I was sure I cannot join the trek. But at one moment I gave it a thought that if not now then never. So I immediately called Naveen intimated and booked flights within no time, without informing my mom my colleagues, and my manager. But at the later part somehow I had managed to get my leaves.
Since it was my first winter/ snow trek I had to shop all the trek gear since I did not own any of these priorly. But yes, when I maxed out my credit card is when I realized how expensive this trek was for me, thankfully, TrekNomads was taking care of everything, right from our accommodation, transport, trekking, and everything right from the time they picked us up to dropping us back to the airport. And as for the trekking gear I purchased, well, now I have one more reason to go on more treks!
Kehete hain new year naya resolution banna ka time lekin bagwan ne hamara kismat me ek anjaan doston ka bhaoot bada list banaya tha. I started from Bangalore at 12 pm flight and my whole mind was “ki kaise hoga sab log mujse alag hai kaafi cool hoga”. I met Naveen at the Airport for the first time at the boarding gate. Ramya and Navya, 2 sisters also joined the trek. Most of our trek group was in the same flight . I was in 2A they were like 20 seats far. We reached Dehradun airport at 4 PM, the airport which looks like a metro station in Bangalore; and then, the rest of the day started. Lakshman Shyam who was my social media friend had also joined us from Hyderabad.
Pre trek Stay – Dehradun Airport to Mussoorie
Dehradun the place I’ve been hearing about for many days in the movie but I was presently there today. weather was bearable. Uttarakhand is the state which is least considered in terms and infrastructure and development, roads not bigger than 8mts, huge bents mixed emotions all over scared and excited. I kept on chanting only one thing “YES, I can do this, it is possible“.
We stopped near a small cafe for coffee and tea passing the National forest which was amazing. I had coffee which was not as good as I prepare, but yes, tea was good. This was when we started the Introduction Round. My story was a bit strange but not as strange as I met the one amazing family. 7 Group families with over 30+ ppl in the group out of which only 11 were in the trek. Travel freaks who had already been to many treks, 2 sisters Ramya and Navya, Avinash and Pavan who were into business, Rakesh and Hemanth who were supposed to join the trek the next day. (when 35+ aged can climb this, why can’t I ). I was a girl with scars yet fearless, trying to get rid of all my fear and become dauntless. We started from the dhaba and started towards Mussoorie. we reached the hotel already started feeling cold.
Manasa my roommate, married and mother of two cute boys, fun, caring, talkative and also very energetic. Maybe it would have been difficult to get adjusted to other people but I’m sure she started remembering her young age and she started feeling 10 years younger than me.
That night Shyam and I were introduced to the family. My trekking family.
Day 1- Mussoorie to Sankri
Day 3- Sankri to Jainula Campsite
We started around 9 AM from Sankri towards the start point of the trek. Chalte Chalte, I had already become close with the rest of the team. Few had got some packet full of dry fruits which I always enjoy eating. The views started becoming more and more mesmerizing and yes, of course, maine decide kiya tha ki “Jo bhi hoga maine picture click karne ka kaam nahi karongi”. Shyam took some amazing pictures, which compensated. We also decided not to play any music just enjoy the music of nature which truly was effective. It was self-soothing.
The staff at one of Dhaba’s we stopped by played some flute for us which was truly a delight to listen to during our mini-break. This is why l loved this whole experience. We not only got to make good friends, but we also got to interact and learn about the staff who was trekking with us. TrekNomads certainly makes this whole trekking experience super personal, something that you will remember for the rest of your life.
There were a couple of Maggi points before we reached the camp. We camped at the Jainula campsite as Juda Ka Talaba, the other campsite was crowded. It was an open green ground which was filled with snow on one side and greenery on the other side. As time passed by we started feeling cold and had to wear our thermals to keep ourselves warm. We had some soup at the dining tent and started talking about many topics till dinner. It was Yathesh’s Birthday our trek lead had arranged for a nice Rava Cake which was delicious. After dinner, we slept in our tents. This time in an actual tent.
TIP: Keep your bags above your heads and below your feet to make sure that air doesn’t enter the tent.
After an hour we reached Juda ka Talab, A frozen Lake. We did a lot of photography there and boomerangs and we clicked an amazing group picture.
We wore our spikes after crossing 500 mt from Juda Ka Talab. I first experienced snowfall here. It was like I’m going near and near to the peak. There was a lot of ascending climb today but after which we had the flat surface to reach Kedarkantha base camp. The tents were ready, the weather was not great there was a snowfall and cold breeze together. Naveen informed that there are 80% chances we can’t summit the peak as heavy snowfall is predicted. For once I taught (I wish the snowfall wouldn’t stop so I can give a reason to stay back and tell everyone it was weather). I had a problem of Descending (basophobia) so more up I climb I start feeling that how difficult it is to descend. Maybe this time God wanted to teach me a lesson and let go of my fear. The snow suddenly stopped and it was sunny, we were one of those fortunate people to see the sunset and the snowfall. We spent some time singing and having hot soup to gear up for the next day but only I knew how frightened I was. I just didn’t want to accept the fact that I’m scared of the descent. I slept early but trust me it was too cold it felt like it must already be -5 degree here. I used a couple of warmers as I couldn’t bear the cold.
Day 5 KBC to Kedarkantha Summit – Jainula campsite
This was the day I had been waiting for so long I woke up thinking I have to stop giving reasons and stop imagining that I can’t do it. “Maybe it is time to take the steering wheel step on the accelerator and drive the damn Car straight to the finish point”. We woke up at 2.30 AM today and got ready wearing all thermals and proper gaiters. I had lemon tea and got some light snacks to eat on the way. It was freaking cold I was scared already and had to climb up the most difficult part. More than climbing it was the descent that was worrying me. Till the Maggi point, I was in the 1st row but as time went by, I realized that I was the 12-13th person in my team.
Time passed by the stars started going away and the light started showing us the way how far we were from the peak. Maybe I was wrong about me that taking risk of climbing when I know I can’t climb down. But I wanted it to be false. There were about 2 times when we got fooled and taught it was the summit and realized it was just a cliff later after climbing. Finally after taking help from many people I reached a peak. Panting losing breath but it was breathtaking.
I witnessed the most perfect Sunrise I have ever seen before. The entire view of Himalayan ranges looked white like cotton candy. It is so easy really. It is wind and air and knowing how to breathe how to catch it and how to join with it. I sat there and felt so emotional the tears started rolling down my cheeks. I wanted to hug my mom and say Yes I did it. I had no mood to click any pictures as I wanted to just be there and not miss out on the sun starting the day.
I try to be happy , He says “Come to Me”,
I try to go to him he says “i’ts not time yet”,
I go near him, he says “Conquer me”,
I pause and apologize, he says “Just continue”,
I slip away, he holds my hands
I say its over I give up, He says “You have to push a bit”,
I reach the saturation level, he says “That’s it”, and continues,
“I decide who climbs up who climbs down, i decide whom to push whom to betray but honey only the true person who aspire can hug me and that’s when they become legendary. I cannot be only your and i cannot satisfy everyone but everyone feels me in their. own way, and that’s me “Pinnacle””.
That’s when they called for the group picture
The part I waited to see was over but next was the most horrifying part. Descending. “Oh dear lord, I’m definitely gonna fall down“. Half of the time I spent at the summit I was horrified, Naveen could easily make out what I was going through. He asked me to stick with him while climbing down. There came the hard part. The whole world in front of me looking like foam and tiny ants going down.