Saturday, August 06, 2011

Trekking in Kashmir: Day 2

Harmukh Mountain - as seen from Trunkol.

If the first day of the our Kashmir trek was mother nature testing our strength and determination, then the second day of our trek can only be described as mother nature apologizing for the hardships thrown at us the previous day, and showing us the beauty that it had kept hidden from us the first day

We woke up and were greeted to a glorious Kashmir morning. Harmukh peak, that was hidden by clouds the previous evening, dominated the landscape with a background that can only be describe as a picture perfect postcard. The sky was a brilliant blue with white puffy clouds. We were awestruck and just wandered around our tent enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Close-up of Harmukh Peak.
Early morning scenery at Trunkol.
Our second day schedule was just an easy trek from Trunkol to Gangbal lake. We were in no hurry to either start the trek or to reach our destination. Our guides cooked us a hot breakfast and we just lazed around the Trunkol meadow. I kept on clicking the pictures.

Another dramatic view of Harmukh peak.
Trunkol is a tiny village with few shepherd houses and plenty of sheep that graze on the fresh grass. The children of the village are always running around, curious to see the few visitors. Prepare to carry plenty of pain killer medicines in your bag - because every other shepherd that you come across will ask you for pain medication and they appreciate the small gesture when you hand them a strip of paracetamol.

A local shepherd girl at Trunkol - accompanied by her father.
We eventually packed our bags and headed off towards Gangbal lake. There was no climbing today. Just walking in the green meadows. If we walked briskly, we could have covered the distance in 1 hour, but since we were in no hurry, it took us around 2 hours to reach Gangbal. The trail is around the Harimukh mountain -- skirting the bottom of the mountain from one side to the other side.

Compared to day 1, this was going to be a joy ride.

My son navigating through the lush green meadows.

You get a sense of deja-vu when you reach Gangbal lake and look at Harmukh peak. It looks exactly the same as it did from Trunkol. Later on, I came to learn that the mountain is named because of this peculiarity. Harmukh in Hindi means "same face". 

Harmukh peak overlooking Lake Gangbal.

The glaciers from the Harimukh peak melt and flow down to form the Gangbal lake, and the excess water flows downstream to eventually form into rivers. 

The water from Lake Gangbal flowing off into icy cold streams.
To reach our tent area, we had to cross one of the stream. The only problem is the water is icy cold. My legs were frozen to the bone by the time I reached the other side. I quickly dried myself and put on my shoes. 

We had to cross this icy cold stream.
We had the whole day to relax at Gangbal. My brother (who is a passionante angler), wasted no time getting his fishing gear to catch some rainbow trout from the fast flowing stream. He had never done fly fishing before, but he still managed to catch 3 rainbow trouts which ended up on our dinner plate later on in the evening.

My brother fishing for Trout fish.
I decided to check out the twin Gangbal lake that sits across a small peak. The trek from one lake to the other is no more than 20 minutes. One of the guides came along with me to ensure that I don't get lost.

The twin Gangbal Lake. 
The second lake is much bigger than the first one. True to its name, Harmukh peak again looks the same from this side as the other 2 sides. I spent an hour around the bigger lake, just exploring the surrounding area. The sun was going down so we decided to head back to the tent.

View of Harmukh peak from the bigger of the Gangbal lake.
Some campers around the bigger Gangbal lake.
My guide relaxing - while I do the hard work.
Our hot dinner was accompanied by the fresh trout caught by my brother. We hit the bed early in order to get some strength for the tough day ahead for Day 3. As it turned out, we would need it.

But not before I spent some time playing with long exposure shots in the dark.

Surreal view of Lake Gangbal at night.
That was the end of Day 2. A very easy and relaxing day. To read about Day 3, click here.


Anonymous said...

Breathtaking!!! Please continue sharing your trip details and pictures.

Anonymous said...

which lens did u use to take the photos

Cajie said...

The lens used is the Nikkor 17-55mm f2.8.
This is the exact lens.