Kedarkantha Trek Day 03

CONTINUED FROM  - Kedarkantha Trek Day 02

Day 03 - 29-Dec-2021

Route - Kedarkantha Base Camp To Kedarkantha Peak 

Distance - 7 KM Return (7-8h)


Lot of noise from outside woke me up at 2:15AM. The trekkers were waking up one by one and getting ready for the early morning trek. When I stepped out, it was surprisingly not that cold. I realised that it was because of the wind last night, that it felt terribly cold. The temperature now seemed bearable. What a relief this was!

We got ready and went up to the dinning area for breakfast. We had some poha and tea at around 3AM. We then put on the pair of gaiters and spikes. Gaiters prevent the snow from entering your shoes. Spikes go under your shoes to provide the extra grip on ice and snow. 

By the time everyone got ready it was almost 4AM. Many teams had already begun their journey to Kedarkantha Summit. We merged into the herd. All along the trail, head torches gleamed and as people moved, the lights swayed in a rhythm, like a snake.


Along the way, I saw many trekkers struggle and give up. Though the trek isn’t difficult, it is steep. Chauhan Ji was as usual in a hurry. He deviated from the trail to climb faster. We blindly followed him. From the base camp to Kedarkantha summit, there was a long queue, thankfully it was moving. Up in the sky, the twinkling stars and the crescent moon looked down at thousands of flickering torch lights sway along the trail. 


At one point, we got separated as a team. Sarang, Rajshri, Piyush and me were able to catch-up with Chauhan ji but Divya S, Shwetha and Divya B, walked slowly. But they were accompanied by Prakash, our second guide. So we continued. 


As we got closer to the summit, the queue moved slowly. Chauhan ji deviated from the trail and walked along the edge of the mountain to bypass the rest. Piyush and I followed him, while Sarang and Rajshri decided to walk slowly. 

Chauhan Ji wanted at least some of the members from our team to reach the peak before sunrise. Piyush and I followed him. I must say that those deviations were very scary. One, it was on the edge of the mountain; two, I had to walk on ice. If Chauhan  Ji sensed that I was struggling, he would scream at me - "Trust your legs!" Believe me, that helped. I realised, that was exactly what, I wasn’t doing. Once, I gathered that confidence that my legs are strong enough to support me and hold me up straight, I managed to climb without fear. If there is one thing, traveling and trekking has taught me really well, then it is to overcome my fears. We are inundated with fear of different kinds, since our childhood. 


I followed Chauhan Ji as he went up. I was determined to reach Kedarkantha Peak  before sunrise. 


Finally, at around 7 AM, Piyush and I reached the summit. Chauhan Ji went back and got Sarang and Rajshri as well. So, four of us were at the peak, during sunrise. I picked a good spot to capture the sunrise and what a spectacular view it was. 


At this spot, I met a young man from Kerala. We discussed a bit about Malayalam movies, of which, I am a great fan. I requested him to take my pictures and he had great photo ideas. Thanks to him, I got that first image on this post.  


We spent a lot of time at Kedarkantha peak . Interestingly, there was room for everyone up there. We sat there for a while and enjoyed the spectacular views that surrounded us. At that moment, 'the cold' took a back stage. I stood in front of Mt Swargarohini, Bundarpunch and Black peaks. I do not think, I can put in words, how I felt at that moment. 


After spending about an hour or so at the summit, we began our journey back to the basecamp. There is a small temple on top of the summit. It is believed by the villagers that Lord Shiva used to meditate here and due to the noises from the nearby villages, he moved to Kedarnath. 

The initial descent is very steep. Moreover, the melting ice made it difficult to get down. Climbing up is easy, but, getting down, is riskier. Your body is weighing you down. I was extremely cautious. Chahuah Ji was screaming at me again to not fear. This time, I chose to ignore him. When I finally got down, he kept asking me why I was scared of the slope when I had two trekking poles. I replied to him - "Haven’t I managed to come down? Only that matters." That was enough to silence him. 


It was a challenge to ignore his insistence to get down faster and focus on my steps. I have had experiences of falling on ice before. That made me a bit more cautious. Also, one of my aunts who loves to trek, had had a fall in one such Himalayan trek and had to be air lifted. She had a fractured leg that prevented her from trekking after that. So, with all that at the back of my head, I had my reasons to be careful. I might look young, but my body isn’t young anymore. At 41, I have managed to keep my excitement at a limit and be aware of the situation I am in and the consequences of my mistakes. I know the difference between fear and being prudent. This was the latter. 

At the next stage of descent, we had a choice to either walk down  or slide. I chose to slide once. I came crashing down. More  the weight, faster you come down. Be careful with your cellphone though. Many had lost their cellphones during the slide. Once the phones gets buried in snow, it is almost impossible to find them. I chose to walk the rest of the path instead of sliding. 

It was when I was walking down from the peak, that I realised the impact of this trek. I was surrounded by snow capped mountains. It is difficult to explain the exact feeling, but I think its a mix of joy, amazement and a sense of freedom. Freedom, not just physically, but mainly, mentally - Free from all the thoughts, free from the idea of self. I felt one with nature. That is, I was experiencing that very moment, without any other thought disturbing me. I think I now understand philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurthy's description of meditation. It is about loosing oneself in the moment. It does not require postures and focus points. Trekking is my path to meditation and therefore, I am driven to it more than anything else. 

Filled with a lot of positivity, joy and amazement, I walked down in silence. I wished not to dilute this moment with some petty conversations. I think all of us felt something similar. Everyone walked back silently. 


At one point, we had a beautiful 180 degree view of the mountains from a raised platform. I had by then accompanied the slower gang and joined our guide Prakash. I did not want to speed back to basecamp with Chauhan Ji. Divya B, Piyush, Prakash and I sat there for a while to enjoy the view. I needed this time to absorb this beauty and capture it in my memory.



We got back to the basecamp at around 11AM. There were many who had chosen not to trek the Kedarkantha peak. They enquired about our experience. Though Nitin and Abhishek missed this hike, it was a good decision to stay back. It would have only worsened their situation. 

At the Basecamp, all of us assembled to say good bye to Sarang and Rajshri. They wanted to head back to Sankri the same day and perhaps leave to Rishikesh the following morning. Chauhan Ji was going back with them. I thanked him for his motivation. If it wasn’t for his push, Piyush and I could not have managed to reach the summit on time. The villagers are so modest. He blushed and asked for forgiveness if he had sounded rude during the trek. 


After lunch, I went up to a view point and sat there alone for a while. I was in this Engentado moment for a while 

Back in the tent, all of us decided to go for a walk after tea. We  reached a perfect spot to view the sunset. The light from the setting sun fell on the mountains turning the snow, golden. 

After spending a Carpe Diem moment there, we walked back to the campsite. 

At night, one of the groups had setup a camp fire. We joined them. I am not in support of camp fires in forest area. Coming from the South (Where things are stricter), I was a bit surprised by the irresponsibility of the forest department here in many aspects. First and foremost there should be a limit on number trekkers per day. Some of the protected national parks in Karnataka and Kerala have strict regulations like this. Also, smoking, campfire and alcohol must be prohibited in these areas. 


We met a group of young boys from Jarkhand. They all had just finished their engineering. When they found out about our professions, they were totally surprised to meet a unique group, with two professional artists, a tour manager, a French teacher and a fashion stylist. They told us how underprepared they were for this trek. Their trek organisers were some local group and they had provided no information in terms of clothing and gears for the trek. Some had hardly got any winter clothes. It was after they reached Sankri that they figured out many things and were able to rent some of the gears. Many who come here are underprepared. People trek with sports shoes that often slip on ice. Some go looking for winter jackets once they realise how cold it can get. 


At around 8PM, we were called for dinner. After dinner, we sat there chatting about our experiences for a while. I told Piyush that I would like to take back my announcement from the previous night. This surely wasn’t going to be my first and last winter trek. I was filled with such beautiful images that I wanted to return back to them again. Moreover, one of the most interesting things I learnt about my body that day was that how well it can adapt to different situations. I observed the villagers. They hardly had two or three layers of clothing. Over time, they had developed this resistance against cold weather. My body was capable of that and much more, but only if I willed. 


We headed back to the tents and crawled back into our sleeping bags and went to sleep. I slept well that night. It was cold but I managed to get some good sleep. 



Continued Here: Kedarkantha Trek Day 04


Here is my film on Kedarkantha Trek - 




Comments

  1. Glad you had a wonderful time. I am jealous now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SG. hahaha. 'Motivated' perhaps?

      On your other comment. Our versions had Neil Armstrong landing on the moon. :-)

      Delete

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