Trek to Kedarkantha (7 to 12 May 2016)
By Nilay Shah
Decided to go on trekking Vs hill station/beach destination:
It’s decided to give some break to JAVA, Apache, corba exception, timeouts, 401 Unknown errors (C’mon Microsoft It’s more than 20 yrs. and still you can’t find unknown…have some mercy on IT prod support managers). After visiting obvious vacation destinations multiple times (Matheran, Mahabaleshwar, Kashid, Goa) it was understood to go after experiences rather than following the herd. Watching NGC and reading lonely planet series also played its part. For relaxing and unwinding, my home is a better place with creek view and lake view during high tide, provided I can switch off my phone. It was unanimously decided to go on a trek, an easy to moderate family trek.
Choosing the trek partner
Googled and Indiahikes was suggested. Sent inquiry wrt trek difficulty and whether my daughter can do it. Received a prompt response from Indiahikes to go for kedarkantha trek with the punch line “your daughter will feel the sense of achievement”. Bingo am 50% in. Decided to do some research and read reviews before we book but couldn’t do because of the office schedule and what, found that batches are getting full very fast also there is absolutely no call back or follow up from Indiahikes to book. This gave me confidence that Indiahikes is treading (they don’t need to track leads) and without hesitation enrolled myself, wife and daughter for 7th May batch. They never disappointed me.
Its first week of Apr’16, we fixed all logistics and bookings. All of us including my 10 year princess was excited. Now here is the difference when you prepare to visit traditional places vs go on trekking. We felt like we were preparing for some mission or war. Huge role played by “trek with Swathi” video series uploaded by Swathi from Indiahikes on various aspects of trekking including how to gain fitness for trekking, what to carry on trek, how to pack your back pack, what’s AMS and how to prevent it.It goes into details like difference between gym track pant and trekking track pant also on sports shoes Vs trek shoes. Videos helped to excite my daughter and kept her engaged throughout, otherwise she was little oblivious about the trekking destination choice.
The easiest part was to purchase trekking gears. We all bathed head to toe in Quechua at Decathlon. While picking the gears and trying we felt like the heroes of 90s film when in the end hero prepares for the ultimate fight with villain and picks up guns, ammunitions in various sizes and designs and hides them everywhere around his body (i.e. Arnold in Commando). While coming back home after shopping, we all were singing “Rang de tu mohe Quechua…..”
Certain level of physical fitness is pre requisite to enjoy the trek troublefree.While me and wife are regular to the gym and do weights and cardio but my daughter was not regular in physical activity and that was the challenge we need to overcome. Vacation period was the savior.We go for the family jog around sea shore on sat-sun and content our self by climbing our 12 storey building stairs 4/5 times on week days. My daughter started to like Swathi and in one of her videos she suggested some YouTube video on home workout for trekking. Got the jackpot, my daughter followed it religiously while we were away in the office.
Imagine best of sceneries straight from the New Year greeting postcards, freshest of air and water, no sound, rather to be precise no any artificial sound, absolutely nothing to do which can be termed as work, excellent mix of 26 trekkers from diverse background ageing min 10 yrs. to max 60 yrs, Professionals from HR, IT, Doctor, Engg college and school students, expert trekking legends as guide and trek lead, absolutely no network signal (Airtel 4G girl pl. note) to disturb and Excellent food. Wait it does not end here. No need to bath, am not joking, even if you want to you can’t…one the water is very cold and also you won’t feel the need to take bath. In future booking.com and goibibo will start mentioning no network coverage as a prominent location/hotel feature.
There was never a dull moment. Something for all. We walked 4 to 5 hrs in the morning except the summit day. Time left is well spent in playing games in group. For e.g., Spot the captain: There will be one player who stands in the middle and rest will stand in a circle, one of the player will be nominated as captin (from circle).Player standing in middle will close eyes till the captain is nominated. Captain will change the dance/step action and rest will follow immediately. Captain keeps on changing the action and rest need to follow immediately. The player in the middle need to identify the captain in 3 attempts. Nights spent in playing ‘Mafia’ in the dining tent. (Google on how to play this game).
Finally the summit day arrived. We were instructed to start at 4 am in order to reach the peak in time to watch sunrise. Alarm was set at 3 am but dog started barking from 2 am.I was half sleep in the anxiety of the 3 am alarm, cold and after dogs barking woke up completely.
Following thoughts came in to my mind while lying in tent waiting for alarm to ring at 3:00 a.m. (In random order and repeatedly)
1)In Instruction session it was mentioned good to have dog on the track as it can alarm us if it sees any stranger (read wild animal).What the dog had found this time?
2)During the day saw animal bones scattered around camp site. Ribs, jaw, skull…Dr. Sindhu helped to identify.
3)Checked safety knife around, just in case required… I already mentioned it feels like going on a mission or a war. This is one of that moment for a law obedient civilian.
4)We were advised to drink minimum 5 ltr water to avoid AMS and I don’t take any chances by nature. In school exams if asked to answer any 5 out of 8 then I write all 8. Though in Engg College exams it was not possible to follow.I must have drank ard 7 to 8 ltrs water.
5)It was very cold inside the tent and colder outside (ard 0 degree). Even changing sleep position requires strong will.
And I desperately need to go out to release excess liquid from body.(murphy’s law you know)
6)Pee buddy concept was taught for safety reasons. Means always take someone along in the night when you want to go out to pee.My pee buddy was my wife (in the same tent of course…no option) but can’t take my chances to wake her up. Do you? She won’t mind but I prefer to bear the pain of 100 locusts infesting my underpants than disturbing her sleep.
Why no one has thought about the solution. Invention is required to handle such situation. Some device/medicine .Quechua are you listening,you guys already launched plates and mugs for trekking though its easily available in any household then why such critical safety miss.
After waiting for 30 mins and contemplating jau ke na jau, Time had come when can’t hold any more and did justice while looking in all directions continuously.
All trekkers successfully summited the kedarkantha peak at 12500 ft. Personal record for all the participants. Half of us would have left midway if there was no support and encouragement from the trek lead Abhirup and guide Yashpal. While descending one of the engg student twisted his feet and was unable to walk. Dr. Sindhu helped to apply bandage but pain was unbearable and so Friends helped by giving shoulder support while walking but a long distance was to be covered and all were already tired after walking since last 6 hrs. In the moment of crisis you find real hero Yashpal our trek guide as saviour. He lifted the injured on his back and ran, waiting only to take some rest and then ran again. What a scene, courage, strength….I told you it feels like a war mission. (Bringing injured soldier back alive…..ha ha)
After summiting the peak, elated and excited, we reached the kedarkantha base camp at 1pm. Fresh and hot meal, gupshup with the trekkers on summit experience relieved the pain from ailing legs and prepared us for 2 hrs descent walk to our next camp site at Hargaon.It is the most picturesque trek and camp site. By the time we started to walk it was already drizzling and the trek became wet and muddy. This added additional fun. One need to use all balancing skills to survive the fall and slippages. All trekkers entered in unwritten competition, who falls the maximum times. Think Maitri grabbed the title with max falls, 5 times.I fell once my Poncho, jacket, gloves, and shoes all covered with mud….felt like played holi khul ke after 25 yrs….
Last day at Sankri basecamp, Certificates distributed for successfully completing the trek. Cake was cut for the celebration. Contact nos and email ids shared. All participants agreed to upload photos on the drive. Everyone gave the speech mix of emotions/fun about their experiences and takeaways. Abhirup appreciated the group for successfully completing the summit despite having 6 kids in the group which is record till now.
While on the way back to Dehradun, passed through ‘kempty fall’ at Mussoorie.There were thousands of people on the road. No place to even walk. Traffic jam and May heat. I lifted up my hand, Bent it at 90 degrees and petted my back for going on the trek vs traditional vacation spot..….Can see sense of satisfaction and happiness on the face of my daughter and wife. My daughter was like, Can’t wait to share my experience with friends and so do I, Hence this blog. Good job boy, good job. Enjoy……………