Going on a Himalayan expedition is no more a dream to me. As a traveler, I always wanted to visit this special place where every walk turns into a glorious experience, every sight is a distinctive postcard, every moment spent here will get entered in your travel diaries, every sunset/sunrise becomes a first time ever seen one. I had a long term plan to visit these spectacular vistas and explore the hidden mountains. I wasted no time to chose my first trek to one of the most amazing expeditions – The Kedarakantha trek. My dream of walking the snow clad slopes of the himalayas materialized as myself along with 3 other members from my family decided to go on the Kedarkantha trek with IndiaHikes. The preparation and planning started 3 months before. There are few important things which should be taken care of before the first trek to these mountains to enjoy it in its entirety and to avoid any beginner mistakes. Check out 15 Things You Need to Know for Your First Himalayan Trek
The trek started from basecamp Sankri which an 8hr drive by road from Dehradun. When we reached Dehradun,we were a group of 25 trekkers from different parts of India who came together with just one mission in mind – to reach the summit of Kedarkantha. The trek journey from Sankri Village, Uttarakhand to the Kedarkantha summit and back to Sankri passing through Hargoan was mesmerizing. The ascent was a strenuous trail passed through the woods with tall pine trees and lovely mountains went on to the meadows and finally continued on to the snow. The extremely low temperatures at Kedarkantha base camp, the sight of the hypnotizing beauty of Himalayas at the summit – every experience is a story in itself. The descent had too many surprises for us with calm villages, breathtaking view of valleys and mountains, varieties of flora and vegetation. It was a great opportunity for trekkers to see the varied scenic beauties all along the trail and get a glimpse of the life in the remote villages of Gharwal. This was another ultimate adventure trek in our bucket list ticked off. It always remains fixed in our minds as one of the best hiking experiences.
How often do you get to spend 6 technology-free days with good friends in the laps of Himalayas? We truly enjoyed this life through out our trek. Along with us were guides, cooks, porters and a team of mules to carry our bags. Not only did we enjoy tasty multi-course meals, we were also assisted, guided and motivated by our trek leaders at every step. The crew set up our tents before we got to the campsites. This was more of glamping.
The Trek Itinerary with Indiahikes goes this way:
Day 1: Dehradun – Sankri (220Kms, 10-11 hours)
By road: Dehradun – Mussorie – Nowgaon – Purola – Mori – Netwar – Sankri
The twisting road follows a winding course going into the Yamuna valley via Mussoorie, and the Kempty falls, finally descending into the Tons river valley, crossing towns such as Purola and Mori. The route hopping from one mountain to other offers a captivating view. Rejoicing the view of the valleys, soon the road hits the beautiful villages in the valley on the banks of the Tons river. The drive along the gracefully flowing Tons river is enchanting. Soon this alluring experience is doubled as the snow capped pinnacles start capturing your sight. A pleasant welcome of this kind which can never be erased from minds is offered by the Sankri village. It is the last village connected to the motor road. It seems as if the Yamuna, Tons and Supin rivers conspire to assist and guard us throughout our journey starting from Dehradun to Sankri. The picturesque village of Sankri is located about 13 km inside the Govind Wild Life Sanctuary (Netwair is the place where the check post is located) at an altitude of 1891 mtr (6204 ft). It is popular for being the starting point of some popular treks like Har-Ki-doon, Kedarkantha.
Day 2: Sankri (6450ft) to Juda Ka Talab (9150ft)
We started our trek after having breakfast at Sankri basecamp. Some of us decided to offload our luggage to the mules. Along with the trek leader and the trekking guide, we also had a few dogs giving us company along the trek. One of the dogs accompanied us to till peak which was ~24 km and became more than a friend. Our walk on the trails started with lot of excitement, leaving behind the Tons river valley, taking the strenuous stone-tucked trail which lost its way into the pine woods. We filled our water bottles from natural streams on the way. The freshness and purity of the water cannot be explained in words. It took about 4-5 hours to reach Juda ka Talab campsite, covering 4 km, with an altitude gain of 2700 feet. The campsite was setup beside the lake which had two grassy islands which looked as if they were floating in the lake. Our tents were lined up few feet away from there. The entire place was surrounded by hills and dense forests. An absolute cut-off experience from the world. No mobile signals available. This was my first time experience staying in campsite. Camping forced me away from my computer, my phone and the worldly wise web. I enjoyed being alone in my thoughts, ideas and imaginations.
Day 3: Juda ka Talab (9150ft) to KK base camp (11250ft)
We started in the morning from Juda ka Talaab and trekked through a steep, tiring trail and reached the KK base camp, with an altitude gain of 2100ft in 4-5 hours. The campsite was on an open meadow with snow-capped peaks on one side and beautiful valleys on the other. It impressed us at the very moment we stepped in. The rustic villages on the mountain beyond the valleys gave a dreamy charm to the setting. The magnificent Kedarkantha peak was visible to us. We were held captive by its breathtakingly beautiful sight. Soon the high sunlit clouds drifted across the clear blue sky. The bright noon turned grey with a dull sky threatening rain. A sudden shower of hailstones was released. A flash of forked lightning and a great clap of thunder came close upon each other and in no time the weather turned cold and wet making us worried about the chances of reaching the summit the next day. We were lucky that unwittingly the sky was again clear blue. It was an awesome noon, snack filled evening, and a starry night at the base camp. We had an early dinner and had to sleep through the cold night. Crawling into the sleeping bags when it was freezing outside was not an easy task. Staying in the tents at night with all its hardships, in a confined forest was worth an experience.
We woke up at 2AM the next day as we had to start the trek at 3am! It was remarkable the way we got ourselves ready with crampons and gaiters and everything woolen we had in our bags.
Day 4: KK base camp (11250ft) – KK Summit (12500ft) – KK base camp (11250ft) – Hargaon (8900ft)
Walking through the snoozing trails in the snow-clad Himalayas, surrounded by the dark Deodars, we spotted the crescent moon appearing absolutely large catching everyone’s attention by its luminous glow. It was one of the best moments to discern the tranquility of the silver beauty peeping alongside the mountains. As we marched further harldy did we realize when we switched off our torches. There was sun light shedding silver on the snow and we were lucky to see one of the most beautiful sunrises that ever happened.
We continued walking through the ankle high, somewhere almost knee high snow filled trails and ridges. The path seemed to be never ending to reach summit. Though Kedarkantha peak seemed to be nearer, we had to cross three more small hillocks before reaching the final destination. At some points, the steep was almost 75-80 degree and we had to leave our poles and crawl like babies.
We kept walking to reach the summit, which appeared to be in close proximity to us but seemed to move away as we tried to approach it. That moment we finally made it to the summit at 9AM (3810 meters,12500 feet) was beyond any beautiful words can describe. The Kedarkantha summit was marked by a cairn with a Trishul that points to the sky. All our exhaustion of the last five hours came to an end and the reason being the astounding unbelievable 360-degree vistas of mountains around us. Witnessing the Swargarohini, Bandarpunch, Kaalnag peaks on one end, Yamunotri range on the other was a wonderful feeling. The experience was a fairy tale.
We felt fortunate after Kedarkantha summit(~ 3820m/12500 ft.) We take a bow to this majestic mountain for letting us climb it through its terrain which very few people are lucky enough to experience. We admire the strength and perseverance of our trek leaders for their incredible efforts in making each one of us have our bunch of memories for the lifetime associated with this trek and the summit. We had our souls satisfied and started descending down to the base camp. Post lunch descended down from base camp to Hargaon campsite. Reached Hargaon by evening and camped for the night. Stars started showing off slowly, glittering all around. Star gazing at this peaceful site amidst the mountains was amazing.
Day 5 – Hargaon (8900ft)-Sankri (6400ft)
As we trekked down, we crossed the steep stretch of jungle and were delighted to see the meadows. We witnessed small picturesque villages scattered with simple living and local vegetation amidst the mountains. The local people of Gharwal were generally very self sufficient growing their own food and didn’t go the main village often.
After trekking around 4-5 kms we reached back to Sankri around 2pm. It took about 4 hours. We tried to explore few places nearby and were guided to an unexplored place “Guyan Ghati”.
Guyan Ghati: “A true treasure trove for the peace and serenity lovers”
One of the least explored or entirely unexplored, Guyan Ghati is tucked away between Sankri and Sidri with enchanting waterfalls, opulent greeneries and all the other marvels of Mother Nature. It is around 9Kms from Sankri Village, inside Govind wildlife Sanctuary at an altitude of 1891 mt (6204 ft).
Tips: Book a cab from Sankri to visit this place. Distance from Sankri – ~9Kms, Time taken Sankri –Guyan ghati – Sankri – 2 hours.
These names and details are collected from the locals and our trek guide. It was a heavenly experience visiting Gyan ghati. It was a perfect end to our journey.
Day 6: Departure day, Sankri – Dehradun (220Kms, 10-11 hours)
Started from Sankri around 9AM and drove back to Dehradun and reached by 6pm.
It was time to say goodbye to the wonderful routes we covered, trails we measured on foot, bonding we cherished in last few days, memories we shared, the woods, forests, mountains and The Kedarkantha Peak.
Can’t wait to plan our next trek with IH! “Kashmir Great Lakes Trek” is on our minds. How about you ?
Happy Travelling !