Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Trekking in Kashmir: Day 1

Packed and ready to go for the trek.
We started our 6-night, 7-day trek (that would take us from Naranag to Sonmarg) on a cold Saturday morning on 16th July. We were supposed to be picked up from our house at 6 A.M., but the vehicle was delayed and reached only by 7:30 A.M.

It was a 3-hour drive to Naranag with frequent delays at various security check points in Srinagar. At one check point, the cops were actually refusing to let us through - due to the unstable weather in the mountains, but our guide Muzafar (who was also with us in the car) managed to convince the security that he knew what he is doing, and they let us through.



Naranag, Kashmir.
We reached Naranag at 10:30 A.M. Naranag is a small town at the base on the Naranag mountain. Naranag is approximately 2200 meters above sea level. Muzafar  happens to have a house there, and he invited us into his house for a quick and hot breakfast prepared by his wife.

After breakfast, we immediately started our trek. Muzafar had to pack all the horses with provisions (Gas cylinder, stove, tents, sleeping bags, food and even some live chicken). He instructed us to start the trek with just 2 of the horses (one for Shawn, and the other containing basis necessities). Muzafar would come with the rest of the horses (after packing and loading the rest of the stuff).

The steep trek up Naranag Mountain.
We had been warned that the first day would be difficult, and I could now understand why. It is a very steep ascent up the mountain. After about 10 minutes into the trek, my son Shawn gave up saying it is too hard. I felt relieved that we had the foresight to have a riding horse added to our package. We signaled the horseman and Shawn immediately jumped on the horse, while we toiled upwards.

Shawn taking the easy way out on Day 1.
After nearly 2 hours of hard climbing, we reached our first (and much-needed) rest point on top of Naranag Mountain.

Taking a break.
After a quick snack and some rest, we continued with our trek. It had started raining now and the trail was becoming slippery and dangerous, while we were feeling cold and miserable. It was important that we reach our destination before it becomes dark, so our guides urged us to move a bit faster. I was beginning to wonder what the heck I was doing here, climbing steep mountains when I could be sitting in a cozy houseboat in Srinagar - enjoying the calm lake and a cold beer. I shut my mind and continued on.

Nasty and miserable weather in Naranag Mountain.
It was at this time that I realized the importance of good trekking shoes and walking sticks. The shoes and the sticks helped us to keep a good grip on the trail and avoid slipping and falling.

The rainy clouds make the mountains look dark and ominous.
After 6 hours of trekking, we could finally see our destination. The only problem was our path was blocked by a series of boulders.
Wet and slippery rocks block our path.
On a normal (dry) day, it would be a simple matter of navigating through these rocks. However, today was no ordinary day. The rains had made the rocks slippery. Navigating each rock was a task in itself and our trekking shoes were no match for the smooth and slippery surface of each rock. It took us nearly 1 hour to navigate through this tiny section of our route.

Tronkul - overshadowed by the mighty Harimukh peak.
We finally reached our destination. Tronkul, a small gypsy town that is dominated by the mighty Harmukh mountain that sits 5,500 meters above sea level.

Shawn shivering from the cold and the rains.
Cold, hungry and miserable - we waited for Muzafar to come with the rest of the horses that contained our provisions and the very important tent that would protect us from the cold and the rain.

Our tent getting ready.
Muzafar finally reached and the rest of the crew quickly set up the tent. We rushed into the tent and huddled inside our warm sleeping bags hoping the rest of the trek was not going to be this hard.

I managed to take this final picture before zipping up the tent and going to sleep.

The beautiful Himalayan Range covered in clouds.
You can read about our Day 2 adventures by clicking here.

8 comments:

mir said...

nice pics and summary , i think ur guide's name was zafar ..... and wat about mentioning me the Planner ;)

Cajie said...

@Mir..The correct name of our guide was Muzafar. However, everyone (including ourselves) refers him to as Zafar.

And you should have joined us on the trip - then I would have definitely mentioned you. lol.

Anonymous said...

Cajie, look forward to hear the rest of the trip. Thanks for sharing.

Prajakt said...

Hi,

Can you please let me know the name and contact details of you guide who arragned this trek for you? Also can you please let me know howmuch did he charge per person per day for this trek. Request you to please reply on prajakt.parab@gmail.com

Thanks

Prajakt

Prajakt said...

Hi,

Can you please let me know the name and contact details of you guide who arragned this trek for you? Also can you please let me know howmuch did he charge per person per day for this trek. Request you to please reply on prajakt.parab@gmail.com

Thanks

Prajakt

Rishabh Kaul said...

Hi

Your trip, pictures and stories are nothing short of inspiring. So much so that I am planning to do it myself.
Like the poster above, I would like to contact the agency or guide who arranged the trek along with daily charges. I'd be grateful if you could drop in a short mail at kaulrishabh@gmail.com

Cheers, Rishabh

Cajie said...

@Prajakt and @Rishabh,
A trip like this costs approximately $35 per night (about INR 1,500). We paid about INR 15,000 per person for the whole package.
You can contact the Baktoo Group in Srinagar, which arranges these trips.
http://hotels-india-en.ghix.com/srinagar/ms_baktoo_group_of_houseboats_1949835en.html

Prajakt said...

Hi Caijie,

I have just completed this trek but from the other side. Here are some photos from my camera in case if you want to see same landscapes in slightly different weather conditions..


http://www.flickr.com/photos/21806550@N08/sets/72157630696628570/

Regards,

Prajak
prajakt.parab@gmail.com