We decided to do a himalayan trek in the winter of 2018-19. After much deliberations, we settled on Kedarkantha, a decent summit trek accessible in winter. The presence of snow also excited us, since most of us had never experience it. We started our journey from Feb 23 2019.
1) Don't skimp out on travel. Prebook early for cheap flights. Spend some extra to take jeeps/taxis instead of buses. Accumulated fatigue and lack of sleep will hamper your performance while trekking.
2) Only carry essentials. For Kedarkantha, we could have hiked with a school bag. A kilogram at sea level is worth ten when you are climbing at 3000+ metres on a gradient slope.
This was our travel itinerary.
Mumbai Central -> Hazrat Nizamuddin (Train)
Hazrat Nizamuddin -> Kashmere Gate (Auto rickshaw)
Kashmere Gate -> Dehradun (Evening Bus)
Dehradun -> Sankri (Morning Bus) (stay overnight)
Sankri -> Kedarkantha Base Camp
Kedarkantha Base Camp -> Sankri
Sankri -> Mussorie
Mussorie -> Delhi
New Delhi -> Bandra
There is an early bus that leaves Dehradun to Jakhol early in the morning somewhere around 6-7 AM. The base village of the trek is Sankri which you'll probably reach by 5-6 PM in the evening. The bus ride was exhausting. I would suggest you to book a jeep towards Sankri.
We booked our trek with Himalayan High. They were great and hosted us graciously. We stayed at the homestay for the night and departed next morning for the trek.
Sankri is an incredibly picturesque village with a view overlooking the valley.
The trek is pleasant at the beginning till you reach Juda ka Talaab which was our stop for lunch. The hike from Sankri towards Juda passes through dense rhodendron forests.
As we gradually gained altitude, we found increasing amounts of snow. Weather changes incredibly quickly in the mountains, and in the span of having clear sunny skies, it started snowing.
We departed from Juda ka Talaab and made our way towards the base camp. There's a slight increase in altitude on the path from Juda to the base camp. We hiked the trail for 1-2 hours with regular breaks and had our early dinner once we reached the base camp. Temperature drops quickly as the day passes, and we had to layer up once we set up shop in the base camp.
It snowed throughout the night, and the guides made a decision to not summit in bad weather. Disappointed, we made our way down to Sankri.
Sankri is a remote, quaint little village, but there is some damage due to the enormous footfall it witnesses all year. There are places where tourists have littered some garbage. Being an entry level summit trek which can be hiked during winters, the region witnesses a significant amount of new/beginner trekkers who might not be mindful about cleanliness/littering.
I'd recommend to combine Har ki Dun along with Kedarkantha. We are planning to summit Kedarkantha after finishing Har ki Dun in the future.
If you are considering hiking Kedarkantha, look up alternate routes or look for alternate trek altogether. There's a lot of crowd on the trails and it doesn't feel quaint anymore.