Well, sometimes life goes perfectly smooth without any hitches yet you feel the void, deprivation exactly how I felt when I embarked on this trek to Kedarkantha only to satiate my pursuit of finding the newer version of myself. Thanks to this couple Shekar and Archana, our buddies who plan the right destinations considering the age group of our friends between 40 and 45. They succeeded in cajoling eleven of us into consenting to trek with the group called ‘ TrekNomads‘ founded by Naveen Mallesh, a certified mountaineer.
Initially, our focus was on buying the right winter gears just to ensure we are equipped to combat the extremely low temperatures on the summit. The orientation by Naveen in detail about our travel on day to day basis, his tips on the physical fitness training, right packing backed by his enriched experience really helped us.
Traveling with our group is so much fun, we had morning walks in Lalbagh, our own botanical gardens only our city can boast of in its heart, climbing and descending the hill, shopping, sharing the videos from lace tying to ranger roll packing, and so on.
I had no butterflies, no apprehensions about the hardship levels thankfully. As the saying goes “Ignorance is bliss”, I had not watched videos of the summit as well not to deter my live experience.
Finally, the D-day came. With all the paraphernalia our group swarmed into the airport ahead of time. I was intrigued to pursue my wanderlust and meet my Trek mates as we generally traveled with only our friends.
The flight landed in Dehradun, a treasure trove of natural beauty, scenic forests, temples to valleys, we started our drive to Mussorie, the place which I looked forward to seeing, thanks to Bollywood movies.
Upon reaching our hotel, we check in to this beautiful hotel at a higher altitude that gave us a great glimpse of the city of Mussorie, and the cold weather helping us to acclimatize. The hotel overlooked the hilly slopy city. We then gathered and broke the ice with our fellow mates dining together exchanging some lighter moments.
We started early this morning, all set to hit Sankri, a beautiful village with breathtaking views en route. It is a small village with one main road flaunting few shops selling the trek gear. There’s a small food hangout serving hot momos and men exchanging banters with witty one-liners. It seemed as though we knew each other for a long time. As the night advanced, we noticed the temperature falling drastically and we rushed to our respective tents to hit the sack early convincing ourselves of adequate sleep before the arduous trek.
What a beautiful morning to wake up to the chirping of birds, the golden sun rising from far away mountain slopes. Truly inviting!! We devoured hot n light breakfast and walked through the narrow lanes to the starting point of the trek. Worthy to mention that we could see the snow-clad peaks of the ‘Swargarohini‘ mountain which is the entrance to the heavens according to mythology. The story of only Yudhishthira amongst the Pandavas getting the privilege to climb the mountain along with the dog.
No sooner did we start trekking, we realized the inclined trail was not as easy as it appeared. We reached the first level sooner than we expected and were happy with this feat.
The trek this day was to reach the base camp through ‘Juda ka Talab'( lake from lord Shiva’s hair locks). The trail was mesmerizing to walk through with lush green forest with countless pine trees to reach ‘Juda Ka Talab’. The lush green trail after Juda ka Talab vanished and gradually we could see snow everywhere. We were more than excited to use the spikes and trail on the snow path thereafter. It was a bright sunny day and the snow melting made the trail slushy yet fun to follow the trek mates and race them one on one. The spikes really helped to walk the inclined snowy paths.
We finally reached the base camp and we were famished. We finally had some good, healthy, and super yummy meals and chilled at the base camp. The weather was clear for a while and we decided to make a snowman. We also enjoyed a round of Anthakshari – this was the chilled-out fun part of the day.
They say that when you’re in the mountains, the weather can either make or break an expedition. But we were not deterred when it suddenly started raining as we had to summit the Kedarkantha peak the next day.
Our day of summit climb, I recall, started very early at about 2 AM (whenever there is a summit climb, you start climbing very early sometimes at midnight even), all equipped to the summit after having a healthy drink for breakfast.
The fellow trekkers lined up along the curvy path with their head torches in the dark looked like a radiant snake. As I laced up my shoes I felt I was up to a battle– an inner battle to defy all odds and channelize my energy only on my goal. Thanks to yoga, I could calm my mind.
As we ascended, it needed extra push and energy. We religiously followed our mentor Naveen’s advice to sip water, take deep breaths at regular intervals. Some of my friends overtaken by fatigue wanted to give up in the middle. Thanks to the guides and my trek mates who constantly motivated them by giving faith of ‘bus sirf sau meter aur madam’ every 100 meters till the peak. Some even cooked up stories to show China’s border just to entice them and keep them going. Our joy knew no bounds when we reached the Summit. It can’t be articulated but only felt. I was literally trembling in the cold but that could not contain my excitement. I captured the sunrise in my eyes which watered incessantly out of mixed feelings. Honestly, I was blank for someone but the peak swarmed with the achievers and their happiness rubbed off on me eventually. Group photos, hugging the dear ones, comforting each other was the order of the day.
I deliberately chose to descend alone to experience the solitude, the feeling of tranquil lingering, just didn’t take my eyes off the gigantic snow mountains. It was like I was airdropped on the vast expanse of snow. It was a moment of quiescence with a touch of divinity. I rediscovered myself, refrained from mundane thoughts. It reinforced my deep longing to know my own land and traverse its length and breadth.
The fun part was reliving childhood sliding the steepest slopes and falling thud. The exotic locales no less than that of Bollywood and Tollywood movies reminded me of some beautiful old songs I was humming all along. The best part of the trek is meeting new people as we trek in our own pace and exchanging few words and inspiring each other.
Finally, we reached the base camp with the exuberance of having won a battle aggressive against hundreds of people, it might sound funny but that was our pride. We warded off hunger pangs with rice, dal chapati, and delicious jamoon to commemorate our success.
Thanks to the warm and ever-smiling cooking team from TrekNomads.
The path was slushy. I was clearly confused( oxymoron) as to alighting is easy/difficult. Though it was not tough almost all of us had a fall evident from the stains on our clothes. Needless to mention those of few who didn’t fall sported a derisive smile to mark their successful trail, devoid of fall. That night we had stargazing to locate to identify stars and constellations, and satellites. It was an out-of-the-world experience.
Well, the journey back to Mussorie was enamored of pride and achievement. We gals were all the more excited to get into fashionista mode to hit the mall road and splurge on shopping. This quaint little town flaunts the best restaurants serving cuisines from across the globe to tickle our taste buds. We had a sneak peek into the town covering few attractions and wound up the day.
The journey back to Bangalore was flooded with memories and innumerable lessons learned from different interactions, some with people while some with nature. I bid adieu to the trek mates promising to keep in touch.
I profusely thank TrekNomads and its Founder Naveen Mallesh for his incessant support and motivation throughout and for being instrumental in this little feat of ours. For now, it seems that my appetite for the wanderings remains unsatisfied. To me, it is like the line from this commercial: “yeh Dil manage more”. The mountains are infectious. They make you stubborn in the most humble manner.
About the Author:
The author is Madhuri Ajay, who is been working as a visiting professor for over 18 years. She likes dabbling in drawing, painting, singing, traveling, and now into blog writing just to make life devoid of boredom. This is her first blog on experiences of her first trek to Kedarkantha which has kindled her desire to travel n write more.