Experience Of A Lifetime by Anshika Rahangdale
"The elation in the air was probably palpable as birders trained their scopes and cameras on the accidental tourist for a once-in-a-lifetime view.”
My first experience of a mountain peak of the Himalayas was paramount. The beauty of the Keadakantha mountain is so heavenly you will fall in love at the first sight. My heart has not been this full for the longest time, the landscapes, the journey, the people everything is accustomed to be unique in their own little ways. It has so much in store for us more than we could ever imagine.
WAY TO SANKRI
We started on a lovely morning from Dehradun on our way to a small village Sankri, for the first few hours it was debatable weather the motion sickness made us nauseous or the exhilarating beauty of the mountains and it only became even more surreal by each passing hour. so after ten hours of travelling, singing, munching and playing all the dope songs from our travel playlists we were in Sankri freezing and shivering. We reached pretty late in the evening and the place where we stayed was at a distance from the actual village so we couldn't explore that but as soon as we got our rooms we kicked our shoes, threw our luggage and hoped into our beds eagerly waiting to see the sunrise from behind the charming Himalayan mountains.
After an eventful night in Sankri we woke up to a delightful scenery, my hands were shivering but my heart was racing this was the first time I was actually witnessing a Himalayan mountain, I couldn't believe myself. The view from the hotel room was jaw dropping.
WHILE TREKKING TO HARGAON BASE CAMP
We were fresh and all hyped up for the four hours trek ahead of us but let me tell you the reality hit us soon. Those four kilometers are not a piece of cake for sure, within the first few minutes we were all exhausted and out of breaths, but the view around is what keeps you going. Soon we made peace with it and understood we have to take it and not whine about it. With every stop that you take during the trek you realize you have to make it to the top, what looks so captivating from down here just imagine how dreamy it will be when you are up there.
The journey is marvelous but what's even more great is the people you meet. I met some absolute sweethearts on this trip and if it wasn't for their company and motivation, I would have never made it. It’s crazy how within such a short span of time you connect so well with people, something that we would never do in our daily lives. It’s fascinating how treks bring people so close even the ones you have met for the first time and you may never meet again.
We were at our first camp site Hargaon after what felt like a lifetime, all sweaty and hungry. Even the basic kadhi chawal tasted so delicious after all the tussle. We had ample of time now so we played games (Battle of the states), clicked endless pictures, got to know each other even better, had some kick ass conversations on completely random topics. As the sun set we gazed at the mesmerizing starry sky, it was so peaceful and calming. Doing nothing and just staring felt like everything I ever wanted to do. The night ended with a long antakshari session and a frozen dinner, it was obvious the temperature was below zero by now. Quickly everybody hopped into their tents, some slept for others it was a whole night of chit chat.
Hargaon To Base Camp Via Juda Ka Talab
It was a bright magnificent morning again, time for the next part of our trek, journey from the Hargaon campsite to the base camp of the Keadrkantha summit. But before that comes there are some struggles that are not talked about the absence of actual toilets, how are you going to freshen with absolutely freezing water and a couple of more. When all of this was dealt with we were packed and ready to go. Our next stop was within a kilometer, the remarkable frozen lake “ Juda ka talab” although it was not actually frozen when we were there yet it was as described splendid and serene. We chilled there for a while and ton of pictures were clicked with the group, solo, nearby the lake, in the snow and so on. A highlight from the trip was meeting a lot fuzzy balls of happiness, we met so many dogs on our way and the best part was that they acted as if they were the trek guides, they followed us for almost the entire trek, it was so cute and adorable.
After chilling at the lake we started again and unlike day one when we were trekking through the forest today it was long beautiful stretches of snow covered mountains it was fairly sweeter then before and we ranted less this time. I presume that its about time we agree that beauty is inversely proportional to exhaustion the more beautiful the views get the less tired you feel. The trek had one more stop toady the tea stall, I mean its compulsory to get yourself clicked with a piping hot bowl of Maggie in the mountains isn't it?
Again it was almost lunch time by the time we reached the camp same as the day before, we watched the sunset, what a beautiful sunset it was the sky was painted with different shades of pinks, orange and purple, it makes you want to stay there forever. But what comes after sunset is tricky the temperature decreases the layers increase, you are hungry but at the same time you don't want to remove your hands from the gloves, you tired and sleepy but the cold is not letting you fall asleep. In between all of this you will not even realize and it will be midnight about time to wake up and prepare in order to leave for the night trek to chase the sunrise.
Base Camp to Summit
We started the trek around three in the morning. This last stretch of the trek was the most difficult one you have to make your way through knee high snow, its inclined and obviously quite slippery, god bless the inventors of micro spikes and gators those were the ultimate saviors.
You start by looking at a peak in the beginning, you assume that’s the summit, you feel it’s nothing you've done it earlier you can do it again, you keep climbing you see another one you think that’s it just in few minutes you will be there even before the sun rises and then there is yet another, now you start to feel that you are been tricked and soon it feels like these mountains are cheating you, that this is never going to end. Its more mentally exhausting than anything else no matter how much we trekked, we never seemed to reach the summit. The summit push was real, midway through the trek I felt like giving up but the fact that I've come this far and that I am so close living my dream made me get up and going every time that I sat down and thought of going back or staying there.
Also it was deathly cold you cannot feel a single body part of yours the breeze that was so soothing up until now is killing and makes you want to wrap yourself in a thousand layers and not move at all. The fact that I've woken up so early just to be there before the sunrise and that I have hustled so much all the way up here made me want to take even lesser breaks and trek as fast as possible, by no chance was I missing that sunrise. By now it was evident that either you reach there or all of this hard-work will go in vain. We pushed, made up on lost time and finally made it. The feeling was surreal. I felt bizarre standing on the peak of Kedarkantha mountain, I made it, after all that I went through the ups and downs, giving up, getting up again, I was spellbound. I didn't even realize and there were tears rolling down my cheeks, it was an amazing feeling one that is super-duper exclusive. I was mooning over the beauty that these mountains are for the longest time, neither the pictures nor what I am writing can do justice to what my eyes saw and what my heart experienced, long white stretches of snow covered mountains reflecting the sun more brightly then ever, the pine trees, everything that I dreamt of and more. Witnessing this made me feel like I was on the seventh cloud.
Those are the Himalaya’s, I am on a Himalayan peak I kept telling myself and yet I couldn't believe that I made it.
But the catch here was that we could barely stop to take it all in because it was extremely cold and windy even though the sun was out, so much so that even the water that we carried from the base camp in our water bottles was ice by now. But all of it was totally worth it.
If I could I would have taken a gazillion pictures of the mountains and myself just to savor the moment forever. If I were to exaggerate I would say one requires extreme levels of bravery and courage to remove there hands from the gloves to click pictures at the summit but then again I am exaggerating, so we clicked a few pictures. It felt more correct living in the moment, embracing it then just capturing it endlessly. From Sankri to the summit we have definitely made a ton of memories easily good enough to last a very long time.
Trekking down to base camp was super fun and adventurous. We covered a lot of ground by sliding through snow it almost seemed as if this were the reason we trekked all the way up there.
GEARING DOWN TO BASE CAMP
We came back to the base camp took some rest and instead of just trekking till Hargaon and camping, we decided to push all the way back till Sankri. Almost none of us wanted to sleep another night in the sleeping bags. The trek seemed never-ending but we covered more than twenty five kilometers in a single day. Being back in Sankri felt like a huge achievement we all were so sweaty and gross yet we were unbothered and went straight to sleep after having dinner with the very little energy that we had left in us after all of this.
Next morning when we boarded the bus to go back to Dehradun we stopped by a stream of the Tosh river, it was so clean and pure, though it was freezing cold we couldn’t resist ourselves from dipping our faces into it. Having Maggie and aaloo paratha by a river side is an experience I never knew I wanted so bad.
Being back in Dehradun after being to the mountains is so different you feel almost alien to the city life, as if this is not where you are meant to be. As the journey ended it broke all of our hearts a little bit, we were so used to this, so used to each other. If somebody told us this before starting the trip we wouldn’t have believed it but it made more sense to us now more then ever. Thriving on the hope to relive those moments someday we left to go back.
It’s not as hunky dory as it looks in the pictures, it all takes a toll on you but at the end of the day it was all about how you negotiated with your mind and your body.
If you're up for these negotiations, go for a trek, it'll be the experience of a lifetime!