The Nice Lakes of Kashmir (GLK) trek options seven alpine lakes in Kashmir. Photograph / Equipped
Who says bucket lists are for the younger and sturdy? India-based journey author, Ranjan Pal, introduces the Nice Lakes of Kashmir trek, a Himalayan hike that Pal, a late bloomer with regards to tramping,
recommends for seniors looking for achievement.
The Nice Lakes of Kashmir (GLK) trek has been on my bucket record for a really very long time.
Arguably the prettiest trek we’ve in India, it encompasses a path that passes by seven alpine lakes in Kashmir, glittering emerald-green swimming pools guarded by forbidding mountain crags, themselves adorned with glowing snowfields.
For Kiwi guests, the terrain is kind of just like that of the spectacular Southern Alps although the mountains are greater and extra sharply outlined.
In addition to the attraction of the lakes, Kashmir itself was a giant hole in my portfolio of mountain treks, since I had trekked just about in all places else within the Himalayas, together with Ladakh and Bhutan and, in fact, Nepal.
This was not shocking as traditionally Kashmir has been India’s most troubled state and a serious bone of competition and battle with neighbouring Pakistan. The political instability and the specter of terrorism has stored vacationers and trekkers away for many years.
However now with the state firmly underneath Indian army management and native politics suspended indefinitely, vacationers are thronging there in droves.
The cruel winter and snowbound situations permit for this trek to be finished solely within the July-September window and given the large numbers of trekkers we bumped into within the second half of August, my tip could be to undoubtedly stick with the shoulder season.
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Proper from the get-go in Sonamarg, we have been overwhelmed by crowds of trekkers and herds of pack animals that gave the impression to be the whole lot, in all places, unexpectedly, with probably the most sad repercussions for me personally.
I had begun my trekking profession with an iconic trek to the Everest base camp in November 2012 and had adopted up with a number of extra to the bottom camps of the Himalayan giants. I used to be happy with my trekking accomplishments, which began after the age of fifty. However now I used to be undeniably slowing down; age and diminishing stamina have been starting to take their toll.
Kashmir proved to be my trekking Waterloo.
I had perfected a private climbing method the place I might climb 100 steps at a time with my head down after which take a break to catch my breath. On a abandoned path this labored properly, however on this overcrowded GLK route, my rhythm was damaged innumerable instances, as I needed to often cease to let trains of trekkers and pack mules cross.
Within the case of the mules significantly, you needed to step apart well or danger being knocked clear off the path. My climbing rhythm destroyed and my spirits despondent, I started to lag additional and additional behind. Finally, I gave up and clambered onto one of many two back-up ponies, an act I might have thought-about sacrilegious earlier than, and let it haul me into our camp the place I collapsed into an exhausted sleep.
The following day, our group of eight getting older adventurers, all school buddies properly into our 60s , continued to hike the KGL path which follows the course of the Pind stream upwards via thick pine forests and grassy meadows till it breaks via the treeline after which loses its method in some nasty-looking boulder-strewn fields.
From our subsequent campsite, we may see the Nichnai Go (4100m), seen as a definite notch within the distant ridgeline that towered excessive above us, with the path main as much as it showing as a scar on the face of the mountain.
The day dawned brilliant and sunny. We left camp in a single file, shifting steadily in direction of the highest of Nichnai Go. I introduced up the rear together with our younger Kashmiri information, Umar, who was to show of nice assist to me all through the trek. As I struggled as soon as once more to maintain up, it grew to become apparent that I must depend on the horse once more.
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What goes up should come down and I’ve all the time felt higher about descending than ascending. We negotiated the steep rocky slopes on the opposite facet of the cross and reached an extended stretch of grassy meadows strewn with fairly purple irises and yellow buttercups.
On the backside of the valley, we stopped for lunch. We took off our boots and cooled our drained legs and blistered toes in a crystal clear and chilly mountain stream. I may have stayed right here ceaselessly, however I had guarantees to maintain and there have been miles to go earlier than I slept.
Reaching yet one more crowded campsite, our depressed spirits lifted once we climbed the small moraine behind the camp and caught a glimpse of the primary of the good lakes, Vishansar, revealing itself in all its glory. Vishansar is the picture-perfect alpine lake, with snow-streaked mountain cliffs that plunge down into its icy waters from all sides and with unbelievable aquamarine hues that shift and alter within the night mild.
The following day was a relaxation day and we had the posh of sleeping in. I waited for the solar to succeed in its zenith earlier than venturing again to Vishansar and bathing in its clear waters. Scrubbing the sweat and dirt of the previous couple of days off my physique with Cinthol cleaning soap, I felt like a brand new man. Better of all, there was not a soul in sight; even my trek mates had forgone this singular pleasure. I revelled in my solitude, grateful for having reached this mountain paradise.
The following day, we have been again at work on the chain gang, with an early morning begin to beat the crowds, headed to the very best level on our trek, Gadsar Go (4200m). We climbed steadily within the morning sunshine, leaving Vishansar behind and reaching Kishansar, 100m additional up. Kishansar is a smaller and paler model of its bigger and extra sturdy cousin, Vishansar. The results of local weather change on Kishansar are clearly seen, with grassy tongues of land rising from its shrinking floor.
Descending the opposite facet of the cross, we handed Gadsar, a spectacular emerald lake and simply the prettiest one we encountered throughout your entire trek.
Fed by glacial streams plunging down from melting icefields excessive up, Gadsar is comparatively inaccessible and provides no first rate campsites, however its sheer magnificence will take your breath away.
Reluctantly, we left the lake behind and continued our descent via the inexperienced valley till in the end we noticed a big cluster of vibrant tents, with the Indian tricolour fluttering above the lone military checkpoint. We have been now past the midway mark, having lined 16km within the house of over eight hours this present day.
The following day, we crossed a snow bridge to get to the opposite facet of Wangath Nallah after which adopted a zigzag route up the facet of the mountain. Quickly this part flattened out adopted by a simple although lengthy stroll to the following set of lakes referred to as Satsar or Seven Lakes however thought-about as one when counting the lakes of the GLK trek.
These are extra like giant shallow ponds, and we handed three of them on our method to the campsite, selecting our method over the boulders. As soon as once more, I discovered a crystal clear and chilly mountain stream to have my second wash of the trek.
Our run of excellent climate ended that evening, as clouds had gathered the earlier night adopted by a brief sharp hailstorm, a loud drumbeat on the roof of the eating tent.
The ultimate cross of the trek, Zajbal (4005m), was hidden far above within the scudding clouds. We took a safer, decrease route traversing the mom of all boulder fields to keep away from the hazard of rockfall from above.
The ascent to Zajbal is steep and relentless, and we have been beset on all sides with the standard loud and noisy throng of younger trekkers. A minimum of, the clouds parted for just a few temporary moments to permit us a spectacular view from the cross of the final two of the seven Nice Lakes , Nundkul and Gangabal, seen far under.
Dropping down shortly to the valley ground, we walked steadily as much as Gangabal for a better look.
Each these water our bodies are a lot bigger than Vishansar and Gadsar – huge shimmering expanses of water mendacity on the foot of hovering peaks. Gangabal drains into the smaller Nundkul, and that is the place we arrange our camp. It’s a gorgeous location, with the imposing bulk of Mount Harmukh (5142m), which interprets as “the diadem of Shiva”, towering into the sky above the lake.
Far up its sheer rock face, the stays of an outdated snowfield bleed into the lake in a steady skinny stream of glacial water. At evening, with the reflection of the complete moon glimmering on the floor of Nundkul, the scene is much more enchanting .
On our final day, we traversed the path which bumped alongside above the treeline for fairly a bit earlier than abruptly plunging into thick pine forests.
The 1400m descent was lengthy and laborious, exhausting and demanding, however ultimately the pink roofs of the hamlet of Naranag become visible. I used to be completely and eventually finished with my final trekking journey !
GREAT LAKES OF KASHMIR
Fly from Auckland to Indira Gandhi Worldwide Airport in Delhi with Qantas and Qatar Airways, with one stopover in Melbourne or Doha. An onward home flight to Srinagar takes 1 hour, 35 minutes.
The author travelled with White Magic Journey Journey. We senior residents took 9 days to finish with two relaxation days included however it may be finished in as little as six days. The journey prices about $2000 per particular person unique of the Delhi-Srinagar-Delhi airfare. Srinagar is 80km from the beginning level at Sonamarg and 50km from the endpoint of Naranag.