Camping Chronicles – Kedartal

Camping at Kedartal

Kedartal is a high-altitude glacial lake situated in the higher Himalayas in Gangotri region of Uttarakhand. It is located at the base of Mt. Thalay Sagar (6,904m) (sharp peak in the centre of the photo) and surrounded by Mt. Meru (6,672m), Mt. Bhrigupanth (6,772m) (peak on the left of the photo).

This one proved to be my toughest trek so far, considering the risks en route. Thanks to Mr. Kishan Singh Pawar without whom this trek wouldn’t have been possible. He’s a guide/mountaineer and specializes in the Gangotri region. He was leading a group of guys from Kolkata and we happened to start the trek on the same day. Even though I didn’t hire him for my trek, he was very helpful and kind. His team helped me at the risky patches of the route and we had our meals together.

The team decided not to camp overnight at Kedartal considering the body numbing cold. The temperatures were to drop down to minus 15 degrees at night! But I was firm on my decision and after all I had come with desire of capturing beautiful photos of Kedartal in moonlight. So I decided to camp alone by the side of frozen Kedartal.

After all other guys left, I was all alone with the lake. I went on a long walk around the lake and took some pictures. Then I decided to rest for some time as I was to get up after it gets dark and shoot some pictures in moonlight. Time passed by very very slowly but the temperature dropped down very quickly. But thank god the weather was nice and clear.

After it got dark, I heard a strange sound which scared the hell out of me! I went out and realized that it was the sound of crackling ice. Phew! The sound was so loud that it echoed! Anyways, I felt safer after realizing what it was. So I took some time for test shots and finally set the timer for a long exposure shot. I managed to stay near the camera and keep my body a bit warm by continuously walking and jumping around.

I shot for around 2 hours, came back to my tent and went off to sleep. It was very cold and as it happens in the mountains, I had sleep in breaks. Every hour or so I got up and checked the time. It moved very very slow! My feet had gone totally numb inside the sleeping bag but I managed to take some sleep. I woke up in the morning with snow on my woolen cap. Even some of my hair were frozen! I had 5-6 pieces of wood that were brought by a previous group and some spare kerosene so I lit up the fire to warm up my body. Packing up the tent was a huge task in itself. The tent was snowy and the pegs were frozen. My fingers went numb in the whole process. But again, I managed to pack it up and move on.

The experience was nice and tough, of course. Not everyone can reach such a beautiful place and spend a night in peace with all that beauty around. I got what I wanted and I thank god for blessing me with the breathtaking vistas and a safe trek.

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