Kedarkantha, situated in Garhwal Himalayas (a mountain range which is home to many 7000+ mtr high Himalayan peaks), in Uttarkashi district of Indian state of Uttaranchal, is one of the easiest treks for amateur trekkers. Kedarkantha summit is known for its 360 degree view of Himalayan peaks. With altitude of around 3800 mtrs, this trek also gives us a chance to encounter snow lines if done in winter season. (As this was a four day trek and we had many amazing experiences, this trip overview is little bit longer than usual)
We reached Dehradun Railway station by New Delhi-Dehradun AC Special. Most of our fellow trek mates were travelling by same train, as it happened to be most convenient train to reach Dehradun in early hours. We had to start our journey from Dehradun early in morning, so that we could reach Sankri (Base camp for Kedarkantha summit) by evening. We had gathered some information about travelling from Dehradun to Sankri by public vehicles. So as soon as we got out of railway station, we walked to Gandhi Road, which is right next to station, and inquired about buses for Sankri. If you are planning to take these private buses, please make sure that they take you upto destination and not leave you somewhere in between. We came across a person who first told us that he will drop us at Sankri and later said that he will take us upto Purola (A town on the way) from where we can take a cab. Luckily, there were few more buses waiting for passengers in same lane, and we found a bus which was going all the way to Sankri. This journey nearly took entire day but wasn't tiring at all. This road travels through outskirts of Mussoorie and moves through pine forests to take you at Sankri, a small beautiful garhwal himalayan village at height of around 2000 mtrs.
Sankri is base camp for many himalayan treks like Kedarkantha, Har ki Dun etc. If you are truly a traveler, who prefers to interact with local people, likes to understand the culture and life of new places, these private buses are best for you. Otherwise, you can also book a cab from Dehradun to Sankri. As it was peak winter in Himalayas and we reached Sankri at around 6 in evening, we were welcomed by coolest bone chilling breezes from valley surrounding the village. As sun set behind the huge mountains, we met our trek leader and he guided us to our rooms. Temperature was 1 degree celsius and we were already shivering. At entrance of our hotel, we met a girl who had arrived back from summit that evening, and she looked just fine in that weather like she was seating in afternoon sun. We asked her, if she didn't feel the cold and she said, up at advanced base camp, they experienced -20 degree celsius. Though she said it proudly and it doubled our excitement, that was surely not the moment to know what challenges we had ahead of us. After putting our bags in our room, we headed for a briefing from our trek leader. We learned about the trek route, our plans for next few days, what all we need to take up the route and things that we wont need on slopes (which meant, DO NOT take them with you on slopes, keep them at base camp). After this, we had our dinner (typical pahadi dinner) and came back to our hotel to shuffle the stuff in our bags and remove unnecessary things. When we finished packing our bags and thought of sleeping, we actually realized how difficult it is to fall asleep in such cold weather. Everything around you is dead cold, your bed, linens and cover of your blankets too. But 50 hours of travelling made sure that we fall asleep and wake up fresh next morning for our trek.
For a Mumbai resident, its not a everyday deal to wake up in 2 degree Celsius. It seemed just impossible to get out of blanket. After getting fresh, we put on our trekking shoes, took our trekking pole, heavy backpacks and marched towards of meeting point. We had breakfast and gathered together for a small briefing by camp leader of our first camp site.