I decided to trek Kedarkantha, not because I had it in my bucket list for a long time. It was rather an instantaneous decision that I made on accidentally coming across a picture of it on Google. Earlier I wanted to take a break from my routine office and weekend life and set on a solo backpacking trip somewhere in the North-east. But being already fascinated by the picture, on further research I came to know that it was graded under medium difficulty and was described one of the most beautiful trek in the Himalayas. So I decided I will be trekking this one solo and will be spending New Year's Eve among the Himalayas.
Kedarkantha indeed is one of the best winter treks in the Himalayas, which one could realize right from the moment when they aren't actually on the trail, but travelling in the bus to get to Sankri. The drive to Sankri (from where the Kedarkantha trek starts) is one of the most picturesque drives in the Himalayas through Mussoorie, Barkot, Purola, Mori, Netwar, Motwat; which are part of Uttarkashi district. Majority of this serpentine road twists along the Tons river valley with various breathtaking views of mountains and splendors of Mother Nature. You would not know what the windows would reveal as your drivers makes another hairpin turn along the edge of the mountain, but surely each revelation will leave you amazed at the beauty and magnificence of this place.
Naugaon, Purola, Mori are some of the major towns along, where the buses and taxis stop for taking lunch and loo brakes. Purola is prominently visible from afar owing to its colorfully painted houses, and this town as a whole appears to be a colourful painting placed among the mountains. At some point after Purola the road descend to run just beside the Tons river, where you can hear its burbling sound and can actually feel the serenity of it just by looking at its crystal clear water, describing the purity of the place it originated from and where you are headed to. The next to come are Mori and then Netwar, with Netwar being the entry point to Govind Wild life Sanctuary and National Park, within which Kedarkantha and Sankri village are located. Soon after leaving Netwar, with one having travelled for almost 7-8 hours, the excitement and desperation to reach Sankri begins.
The first sight of the snow-capped mountains in the far distant is a sight to surely give you goosebumps. And now that the beauty of the Himalayas, obscured to you is revealed, you are about to reach Sankri.
I reached Sankri around 5 in the evening after an almost 11 hours journey from Dehradun. On reaching Sankri I wasn’t really tired, but rather excited about the fact that I’d be camping for the first time. I had never ever pitched a tent before in my life, but had only seen few video instructions for the tent that I was carrying. It was Quechua Arpenaz for 2, which would be my shelter for the next 3-4 days. After talking to few people about places where I could pitch my tent, I camped on the premises of a government officer’s empty rest house. I chose this place because it was just besides the main road and I felt it was a bit safe to leave my stuff there and roam around talking to the locals in the night. Also I was a bit afraid of pitching my tent anywhere else.
DAY 1. Sankri(6,450 ft.) – Juda Ka Tal(9,100 ft.)
I started off from Sankri at around 10 in the morning and took along a local boy named Gopal to be my guide for the next three days of trek. One starts from Sankri on a dirt road that further connects it to another village called Taluka; Taluka is the place from where the trek to ‘Har Ki Dun’ starts. A few hundred metre from Sankri is a small village that serves as camping site for various trek organizing companies. And a few minutes hike ahead of this place, the actual trail to Kedarkantha starts, where it takes off the road to diverge onto a steep trail into the pine forest.
Taking Gopal along turned out to be very advantageous, since he had brought along with him some food that we could cook, stove, an extra lining for my sleeping bag and also that he knew people and places on the trek. I befriended many of his friends on the trail, who were working for various trek organizing companies as porters, cooks, and so on. Some of these guys were pretty generous in offering me food and also some locally grown grass to smoke.