For more than a year now, I had this dream of going on a solo trip and December 2019 was the time I could do it. In India, it is super difficult to convince your parents for the solo trip but somehow I managed to break the barriers and go and it was surreal. This trip was much much needed for me in order to end this year on a good note and find myself and my identity. This year had been a rough one to say. I had been depressed and given up on life in general and was in therapy so doing this was so important for me to regain my self confidence and faith and belief in myself, in life and in all things beautiful.
So, I booked a trek to Kedarkantha with Bikat Adventures and off I went. Why Bikat Adventures? It’s because I have heard so much good about them and the fact that they take extremely good care of their participants so I had full faith that I’ll be in safe hands and I was.
I had taken a Volvo Bus from Delhi to Dehradun from where the journey was supposed to start. On my first day, I met my trek leaders Lalit Yadav from Noida and Yitso Waka from Nagaland along with a group of 10 people-The Marwadi Family with whom I was clubbed to travel and it was a pleasant ride from Dehradun to Sankri. This was the first day and it was a day of introductions, we all just got to know each other and I was getting quite surprised reactions so as to how come I am travelling solo, little did the people knew why being solo was important for me. As we were approaching Sankri, I was informed that there will be no network for five days and when I told this to my parents, they freaked out a little and so did I but eventually I was comfortable because I had finally time to myself and there was an opportunity for digital detox.
In Sankri, we stayed in a homestay with the warmest of the blankets.
On the second day we started off with our trek from Sankri to Juda ka Taal. The climb on this day was steep and tough and I was the slowest person from day one but I managed to reach up there safely and then we camped in Hargaon. As we were approaching Juda ka Taal, we saw traces of snow and our camp at Hargaon was in the Snow. I kept my speed slower than usual because I wanted to be safe, I really didn’t want to be clumsy and fall on the first day and injure myself so I took baby steps and was lagging behind from everyone. And wherever the climb would get tough that I thought I cannot make it, my trek leader Lalit, aka Lalli Bhai was so kind that he held my hand and helped me climb at each step. From day one he was motivating me and keeping me going and didn’t lose patience when I was slow. When we reached Juda ka Taal, we saw that the lake was frozen and another local guide Jaychand Bhai who was with us even glided on the frozen lake and clicked jumping shots for everyone. We reached Hargaon campsite by evening and as soon as we reached there, there was a stretching session to keep us fit for the rest of the trip and later on we were served snacks and tea. The family I was travelling with carried so much of food with themselves that it was amazing, I had the opportunity to taste different kinds of Puri, Theplas, Papad Churi, Butter Cookies etc while being with them. At night, we had bonfire where gossip sessions took place. One of the girls from the group worked as a Make Up Artist with Bollywood Celebrities and she narrated some juicy bollywood gossip over bonfire and we all shared a good laugh. Along with this gossip, we had a learning module too on medical conditions in high altitudes and how we can equip ourselves better while being in the mountains. If you’re a first time trekker, make sure you go with Bikat Adventures because their learning modules in between the fun sessions will make you aware about things you don’t know otherwise and will stay with you for a lifetime.
Anyhow, we enjoyed the night and then when we went back to our tents to sleep, we were given sleeping bags but it was so cold, I couldn’t sleep at all throughout the night and kept on shivering. I had worn every piece of woolen clothing I got and still I was shivering, the temperature was somewhere between -2 degrees to -5 degrees at night and there was chilly winds, what kept me sane was the beautiful moonlight and the stars and the golden hour. What’s the golden hour? Golden hour is the time of the sunset when all the snow mountains turn pink and they change hues to orange and it’s a magnificent sight to watch the sky at that time.
Next morning, after breakfast, we started off our trek to Kedarkantha Base Camp. Before the start of this trek, we were given gaiters so that the snow does not enter our shoes. It was a short trek this time, we reached the base camp in two hours. On this day, we were also celebrating the birthday of one of the group members. When we reached the base camp, there was again stretching and we learned how to pitch a tent. The sun on this day was bright so we enjoyed a lot in the sun and chilled and relaxed, there were gossips and we had lunch then in the evening we all had music, songs and fun games and a cake made of Sooji Halwa. After a super fun session, we were briefed about the next day which was the Summit Day, the day we were supposed to climb the Kedarkantha Peak. We were supposed to wake up at 2AM and get ready. We all went to sleep early that night.
Now, my mood and experience till the base camp was up and about and I had zero self doubt and everything went on smoothly but the day it was summit day, I started having severe anxiety and doubts and almost gave up, I told everyone that I am having second thoughts and I don’t want to go to the Summit and I started developing backache, gastroenteritis, stomach ache and everything. I was super scared, I wanted to stay back at the base camp and not go further to the peak but then everyone motivated me and gave me a pep talk and I decided to go ahead and I am super glad that I didn’t give up because the trek to the summit was the best trek experience. I had such amazing meditative moments during this trek- there was a state of pure awareness and thoughtlessness that I cannot describe how amazing it felt, I was just one with the nature. It was a feeling where I was aware of my single breath and there is only one way of life- “Bas Saans Lete Raho” just like Hrithik said in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, it was that moment for me. I also saw the moon rise and moon set and sun rise and sun set on this same day. These are such special memories, how moon and sun change colors while rising and setting. I reached to the summit in six hours and it was all worth the effort. I am so glad that I did not give up because had I given up, I would have not experienced such divine nature the way I did. It was stupendo-fantanbulously-fantastic. And while coming down, I had the opportunity to slide on the ice and it was like I am in heaven, I felt like a kid so free being able to slide in the snow, I was at my happiest.
On the same day, we climbed down to Sankri, we walked continuously for 16 hours, it got a little hectic and I developed blisters on my feet but they’re reward marks and if given a chance, I would go on a solo trip again. It helped me find myself and love myself and find the strength that I had lost this year while battling through depression. This trip made me feel alive and I cannot be more thankful to god, to my parents, to Bikat Adventures, to my trek leader Lalit because of whom I could complete the trek, to the Marwadi Family who were a constant support throughout the journey and to my friends who have managed to stick with me through thick and thin.