The descent to Kedarnath

I never really wanted to write this story mostly because the events of this story is bad in some ways.  But it made me a little more than I was before that. Thus I decided to write it down.

Ghuttu

Ghuttu

There were five of us, started from Ghuttu, a village in Garwhal himalayas we crossed rivers and hiked along barely visible trails to make our way to Mayali Pass. Mayali pass quite high, enough to make to feel the lightness of air and absence of oxygen. The part which troubles me most about this altitude is that you can never really get a good sleep and rest. I found myself jerking off from sleep to get a good breath at night. At this altitude the most common sickness you get is “altitude sickness”, symptoms include dizzness, nausea, reduced brain functioning etc. and the worst, HAPE (High altitude pulmonary edema, fluids gets into your lungs and you die).

The camp near, few kilometers away from Vasuki Taal

The camp few kilometers away from Basuki Taal. Photo courtesy Dibyendu Seal or Mrinmoy Sarkar (don’t rememer clearly)

View from tent, Basuki Taal camp site

View from tent, Basuki Taal camp site

It was all going great, we crossed Mayali pass with flying colors and camped a few kilometers before Basuki Taal, after which we would have to cross a few ridges and get to Kedar Nath (the end of our journey). The day we were about to descent to Kedar Nath, one of our team members started feeling sick. He couldn’t walk, he was feeling dizzy and tipsy. So the most nimble member of our team was sent to get some help from the porters, who were already ahead and pushing fast to KedarNath. Rest of us decided to stay back with the unwell.

Basuki Taal at a distance. Behind those ridges lies Kedarnath.

Basuki Taal at a distance. Behind those ridges lies Kedarnath.

Moments laters, as we looked at the Lake, a few kilometers ahead. Suspecting that it might be difficult for the nimble guy tp get help alone, I was sent to help the other guy. I started alone, leaving behind our guide with the rest of the team, trying to find my way to the lake. I wanted to go fast, so that we can rescue the sick member faster, and that led to bad navigaton from my part. I had to re-route my way mutliple times until I got to Basukitaal. When I reached Basukitaal, the nimble guy shouted at me from the other side of the lake. He said the porters have already left the lake and crossed the ridge, which I already suspected. I shouted back at him, asked him to follow the trail and catch up.

The bad part about these ridges is that you never know what comes next, and as fas as I knew, if I could cross the ridge after the lake, I would find the final descent to Kedarnath. I was wrong. I started circum-navigate the lake, walking over rocks with the sound of water trickling under them. I reached the trail at the other side of the lake and started walking up. I found the other nimble guy sitting. He said he was hungry, I had some biscuits with me. We didn’t have water with us. We usually filled our bottles from waterfalls and small streams, but in the urgency of the moment we both forgot to fill bottles. Eating all those biscuits was a bad decision, our throats got parched. Without water, we started to walk. The nimble guy was quite tired, so was I.

After going up for a while, closing in to the ridges I found some patches of snow here and there. I decided to eat snow to quench my thirst, so did the other guy. One should never do that.

Now there were two of us, going up slowly. After we cross the first ridge, to my horror there were a lot of trails going here and there with no clear path to Kedarnath. My friend decided to take a trail which he though could be the shortest path to Kedarnath and I was finding another trail more promising. We split up.

The trails were broken by rocklines, which were hardest to navigate. I pushed on, almost in empty brain. I could see the magnificent 360 degree view of Garwhal. I didn’t want to stop to get photographs, I had to get help from Kedarnath. Now Mrinmoy Da gone the other way, I was alone on the trail to Kedarnath.

They say there is no first sight of Kedarnath, there is first sound of Kedarnath. You can hear the bells of Kedarnath, ringing and permeating the valleys. I wanted to hear that sound. Crossing over rocks, slipping, doubting the trail at times, I finally found a well laden trail, and after walking a few yards, I looked down the hill and saw a town, with helicopters. I stopped, I could hear the helicopter engine, I could also hear the bells. I had doubts because the guide told that a trail from those ridges can also lead to Rudraprayag; I didn’t know for sure if the town far below me was Kedarnath. I could still get help. I took a deep breath and cried for a moment while the sound of the breeze mingled with the distant bells.

Kedarnath in background. This was taken moments after me and Mrinmoy Da was were re-united. Photo courtesy Mrinmoy Sarkar

Kedarnath in background. This was taken after me and Mrinmoy Da were re-united. Photo courtesy Mrinmoy Sarkar

I started walking down the nice rock laden way toward the supposedly Kedarnath. Black clouds started appearing to my left, with light drizzles. I found two hikers on my way down, and I asked them if the town below is Kedarnath and they said I was right. Relieved, I kept on walking. My jacket zipper was broken, and the rainrops were getting bigger, and I feared I might catch cold.

Hearing some sound from behind me, I looked back and saw Mrinmoy Da, walking fast torwards me. It was a moment of joy. I was glad that I was right and I was amazed my his stamina, as he walked down the wrong trail, walked back up and caught up with me. Now we were two again, still with no water, we pushed on. Mrinmoy Da complained about his cramping legs, I kept on saying ‘just a little more’. It was definitely not a ‘little’ more.

Now the hill was very comfortable for us, even there was a rock laden footroad for us, we broke up and went down the way we felt comfortable in, to get there fast and get help. We found nice stream, we drank water, quenched our long deprived thirst from it’s misery, felt like a new man and started off. The rain was heavy by then, and Mrinmoy Da put his poncho on. I kept running on open jacket.

We reached Kedarnath at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, we started from campsite at 8 o’clock. We found our porters there, I asked for help. They got some guys who gets people on ‘Duli’s and carries them. We figured they might be able to carry the sick guy down to Kedarnath and we sent them off. I wanted to go with them, but Mrinmoy Da said they would walk fast and as I was tired as hell, I might fall sick too. We went to a hotel, and I found a big 1 inch blister on my right foot.

Kedarnath

Kedarnath

One of our team members, our leader came an hour after we came down. He said the guide is with the other guy and the unwell member. They are coming in slow and he also met the people who we sent to get them down safely. We waited, till 11 o’clock at night. They came to Kedarnath.

I spent that night at Kedarnath hospital, looking over Nilu Kaku. He is very strong, I knew he would be alright the next morning.

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