Nestled in the Uttarakhand Himalayas, the tiny village of Sankri serves as the starting point for the Kedarkantha trek organized by Inme. I had just completed my first board exams and had decided to trek to the Kedarkanta peak in the last week of March 2015.
Sankri is situated at a height of 1920m or 6455ft above sea level. The places to stay for the night before the trek are the GMVN guest house or the Hotel Swargrohini Palace, as I was with inme, I stayed in their Tons campus. The view from the village is splendid. You can see the snow capped mountains in the distance towering above you.
The railway station from my new apartment in Delhi is not that far. It took only about 30mins for me to reach. Inme was very efficient in organizing the meet up at the railway station. We travelled in the Nanda Devi express, it was an overnight train. Our train left the station at 11:30 and I could hardly sleep. The excitement for my first high altitude trek was too much for me to sleep peacefully. I woke up at 5 and waited for the train to reach the station. It was an 8 hour drive from Dehradun, but the 8 hours felt more like 16 and the drive was a lot more tiring than the whole trek. We had just taken a halt at a maggi point, where we got refreshed, had some maggi and cold drink.
The first day at the tons campus of inme was quite awkward. The whole group of 33 was distributed into small groups. Nobody was talking to anyone, but from the second day onwards things got better. We went for a short trek on the second day to get accustomed to the heavy snow trekking shoes. The shoes themselves weighed near 1kg.
The next day morning we had our breakfast in the campus and then went to sankri. The kedarkanta trek lies in the Govind wild life sanctuary and national park.
Our walk on the trail started with a lot of excitement. When we set off for the trek, it seemed like we were going up some rugged staircase, but soon it felt as if the staircase never ended.
Whenever we asked our guides about how much more time it would take to reach the base camp, we got an answer of 30min, but we took 6 hours to reach juda Ka talab(our base camp). The higher we went the number of rests we took also increased. I was trekking with the support of only one hand, as I was holding my camera with the other.
We filled our water bottles from the natural streams, and the freshness and purity of that water cannot be explained in words.
While trekking up there, I fell six times, when i had to stand on the edge to take the shot, when the land seemed too steep to climb, in my mind i had that I will have to go that extra mile. For they say ‘patience holds rewards you’ll remember forever’.
After sometime we could see the snow. Some people had already given up the hope of reaching the base camp, some even hoped for a ropeway or something to take them to the base camp. But the first sight of the snow instilled new energy in every one of us.
I wore the snow trek shoes and started trekking on the snow. Walking on the snow in broad daylight is very difficult. Your foot gets muddled into the snow completely and your walking pace also slows down.
The feeling you get after trekking for 6 hours and then reaching the base camp cannot be explained through words or photographs; it needs to be experienced.
The campsite was very beautiful, the frozen lake added to the beauty of the place. There are a few places on the planet where you can feel so away from the hustle of the world. The feeling it delivers to its guest is highly underrated
There is power in being a voyager in the face of the earth’s beauty. There’s something honest in the journey: There ïs humility in the struggle. And there ïs value in the reward when you come out of the shadows within the cracks of the earth to uncover beauty within the world, and yourself, that you didn’t know existed.
The air up there was purer than anything, and to a guy like me who has lived in one of the most polluted cities of India, the place felt like heaven.
Some people hate camping. It’s cold, it’s cramped and it’s boring. But there is peace in a night within nature that one can’t get over. Camping forced me away from my computer, my phone and the worldly wise web. Camping forced me to be alone in my thoughts, my ideas and my imagination.
Nights out there under the stars gave me clarity about life and deepen my connections to myself.
Yes, the natural setting all around is beautiful. But it is the exploration of my own person that was most valuable to me when I laid back and looked up at the stars in the emptiness of the sky..
As the night descended on us it got colder and colder. We set up a campfire and sat around it.
Our chief instructor was sharing a few local ghost stories with us. No one cared if the stories were true or not because every one of us was having fun listening to them.
The unknown can be a scary place. When we let go of comfort, surrender the magnitude of possibility, we are immediately met with fear. That fear becomes our catalyst for exploration, pushing us in directions we never imagined.
Talking with the locals was really interesting, their stories fascinated me. I met a guy who lived in Sankri called Amar Rana. He was very fit; the land he could cover in 2 hours took 6 hours for us. He even saved his village from a tiger.
The taste of the food we had up their did not matter much as hunger makes every food delicious.
The weather there was great during our first day at camp, but we were really unfortunate. It started raining heavily from the second day. We could not reach the summit because of that.
After two days of waiting for the weather to clear out, our instructor said that we have to return to camp as the weather was getting worse.
I expected that getting down would be a lot easier, but actually it wasn’t because the rain had made the trail completely muddy and very slippery. I fell seven times while coming down. Trekking with a heavy camera is really very tough, as the rucksack is already quite heavy.
One of the most amazing things I experienced was that, as we were getting down from the mountain, the rain stopped but I could see the clouds pouring rain above us.
The panorama and view that the kedarkantha trek provide is spectacular. Under the scintillation heavens the mountains of kedar instill a little paradise on Earth, with everyman that treads there an adventurer, every picture a myth, reflected into a reality by the multi chromatic vision of the lenses .