Friday, 11 November 2016

Trek To Kedarnath

The thought of trekking at 47 in Himalayas and its strenuous nature set me thinking on age and ageing. It was then wisdom dawned on that age is just a number and a state of mind! What you think you are, you really become, young or old as per your thinking.!  It is again related to ones' experience, limitations, expectations and disappointments in life. Luckily I felt I am young in spirit. Most of people would not readily accept that a person at the age of 47 or above can be a first time trekker to the hills of Kedar, I realized that it is possible if there is a good support system to goad us as in my case with my sweet little princess who not only gave me the required confidence but actually pushed me to see what I could achieve. When my husband was apprehensive about my fitness and health, rest of the family and friends who worried about the unknown terrain, it was my daughter and my sister who bolstered my spirit and said I can do it. There was no second thought thereafter and the two of us, my sister and myself, all by ourselves, embarked on our journey that included an 18 km trek from Gaurikund to Kedarnath by foot.

We landed at Dehradun and after a day trip of Haridwar, we stayed overnight at Dehradun. Next morning, we drove about 460 km to Sitapur and stayed overnight at Hotel Shivalik. This hotel has good rooms, clean towels and easy hot water supply essential in the early morning. They cook tasty hot food and it has a homely ambiance. I would strongly recommend this hotel in this ghat section.
 In the morning after a quick hot water bath and a cup of hot chai, we were dropped at Sonprayag. From here our private vehicles do not ply. We had to hop on to one of those jeeps that are tuned to these rugged roads to take us after a short drive to the entrance of our trek path at Gaurikund. 
All excited we both carried our back packs with some medicines (for emergency) dry fruits and electral, wore the winter wear, bid bye to KK and started on our trek with a prayer to the lord. From here we had the option to take a pony ride to Kedarnath. Though many including the pony guys suggested that we would not be able to complete the trek on our own and we better take the pony, we put the trust on ourselves and started to walk. A few yards on the route, we come across the main temple of Gaurikund where we paid our obeisance before continuing with our journey. 
Our constant company during my six hour trek was the imposing Garhwal Mountains, the sound of gushing waters of Mandakini below us in the gorge and occasional passersby on ponies or foot and ofcourse regular vrooming of the helicopters above the mountains. Some parts of the trek have well laid foot path with railings, while at some places it is fully washed off due to the rain.
Here came the moment of realization that I am not the center of the universe but a mere speck in it whose very existence right then was fully controlled by HIM. Though we trusted on ourselves and on our trekking pole to take each step forward, it was our abiding faith in HIM that saw us through to reach the destination without any harm. 
These pictures might look scary, but do not be discouraged by them before you take the plunge to do the trip. With His grace, you will do fine.

After a trek of five kms, we came to our first stop, Bhimbali. Here we had a cup of hot chai though refreshments are available. After taking rest for a few minutes to recoup ourselves, we proceeded on our journey. The route is not so easy from this point. You have to walk carefully on a slope at your own comfortable pace giving yourself short breaks. Always remember to keep yourself hydrated during any trek. All through the distance till the top, there are make shift toilets, benches to sit and drinking water facility to the travellers. 
Having walked another six kms we reached a place where we could witness the massive devastation caused by the rage of Mandakini in 2013. The old township of Rambara is nothing but in shambles. The landslides, the destroyed hotels and the old bridge brought to us memories of the devastation and the immense power of nature’s fury. Here we learnt the lesson to “Respect the nature”. Having prayed for the departed souls due to floods, we took the new route to upper Linchauli. From this point, though it was quite difficult for us to trek without frequent breaks, we plodded on.
On reaching upper Linchauli, we encountered sudden and heavy rains. We sat down for a while at a tea shop for some rest and recouped ourselves with some hot tea. We were aware that we had another four kms of uphill walk and time was ticking fast. We did some good thinking and reasoning and decided to hire a pony for the rest of the journey to avoid any risk in this rain. If you are wondering, if we could get a pony after having travelled so far into the trek, rest assured that ponies are available pony all the way. Do not be bullied into taking a pony at the beginning of the trek as you can always hire one midway
The ride on the pony was not as easy as we had imagined. It was quite scary when it climbs on the edge of a ridge or ambles down some slope. Finally, after a pony ride for another two hours, we reached the top of the Kedarnath trek, with the temple in sight. We paid for the ride thanked the pony master abundantly and started our walk towards the temple. To my big relief, I saw KK standing near the helipad waiting for us. 
Another few kilometers of walking took us to the temple and Hotel Bikaner place, one of the few hotels in Kedarnath. I will write more about the temple in my temple blog soon.

1. If you are planning for a trek on the mountains, start your daily regime of walking and jogging 3 months prior to the journey, if possible do some yoga and breathing exercises. Take the medical advice before embarking on such a journey
2. On the day prior to the high altitude trek, take the prescribed tab of DIAMOX. You may have side effects, do understand the side effects by asking your doctor.
3. Carry a back pack with a padded strap. It is more comfortable to carry and less stress on your shoulders
4. Do not carry too many eatables. Carry few dry fruits and liquid to hydrate you. They say iron rich food helps
5. Thermal wear is not necessary unless you trek on the snow as you tend to profusely sweat while trekking. But wear it if you cannot handle cold at all.
6. Take a raincoat for yourself and your camera if you are carrying as the climate high up there is unpredictable
7. Above all enjoy the scenic beauty as the journey is as important as the destination



  1. Veena you are tempting me. There is a trek to Himalaya in may. Maybe at 49 I should try it

    1. Yes arch. I am def going. Will you join me ?

  2. Veena you are tempting me. There is a trek to Himalaya in may. Maybe at 49 I should try it

  3. Hats off to the two of you from the tropical South for the grit to undertake this arduous trek in icy clad mountains! You have given in detail to the would be trekkers what to expect in this awe inspiring journey.
    The pictures are nice and indicate amply the risky nature of this travel.Thank you.