Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Trekking in Kashmir: Day 6

Early morning at Vishnasar Lake
To read about our Day 5 adventures, click here.

Day 6 of our Kashmir trek can be best described as "The day of Shawn". This was the first time Shawn completed the entire trek without using his horse. A solid 8 hours of continuous trekking.

I had slept like a log the previous night - no doubt helped by the Rum that I had taken before dinner. When I got up in the morning, it was yet another beautiful Kashmir morning. Clear blue skies and puffy while clouds. I walked up to Vishinsar lake to take some early morning pictures. The water of the lake was very still, reflecting the mountains and making it look as if the lake has disappeared.

View of Krishnasar pass from Vishnasar lake.
From here, I could see the Krishnasar pass, that we had crossed the previous day. The mountain looks imposing from this distance.

Enjoying the early morning serene beauty of Vishnasar lake.
There were a smattering of trekkers camped at Vishnasar. I later learned that most trekkers prefer to trek from Sonamarg (our final destination) to Vishnasar and then return back to Sonamarg. This makes for a much easier trek than the one we undertook, and avoids the steep mountains that we had to climb and descend.

Vishnasar is a beautiful place to unwind and relax. I felt we could have easily spent a full day here - enjoying the 2 lakes. However, it was time to pack our bags and move on.

The beautiful Vishnasar Valley.
View from Vishnasar - North
View from Vishnasar - North East.
View from Vishnasar - East
We started off fairly early at 8:30 AM. Our destination was a place called Shokhdari (also called Table Top). Muzafar (our guide) assured us that we could finish the trek in around 4 hours but it took us just around 8 hours to complete the trek. Later on, Muzafar confided to my brother that he knew it would take us  around 8 hours - but if we knew the trek was so long, we might have told him that we don't want to do it. He was right. We were tired from the previous days trek, and if we knew we had to cover a similar distance today, we would have surely insisted that we take a break at Vishnasar.

View of Vishnasar valley - heading towards Shokhdari.
Another beautiful view of Vishnasar valley.
Like the previous day, we set off with just some water, raincoats and chocolates, while the support team would pack everything and catch up with us.

Taking a break.
We took frequent breaks, as we started the gradual ascent up to Nichnai pass. This pass is not imposing as the ones we had scaled on Day 3 and Day 5. Shawn felt he could climb the pass without the use of his horse, so when our support team reached us, we told them to go on ahead and wait for us at the top of the pass.

Heading towards Nichnai pass
View of Vishnasar valley.
We finally reached Nichnai pass. Though it is not as high as Krishnasar and Zagibal pass, it was still a tough one to ascend and we needed frequent breaks before reaching the top.

At the top of Nichnai pass.
Shawn celebrating his achievement of ascending Nichnai pass.
The rest of the way was downhill or straight route. We thought we should spent some time relaxing at Nichnai pass, but Muzafar recommended that we get off the pass as quickly as possible as the clouds were turning dark, and it looked like rains will hit us any minute.

The climb down was pretty easy. More like a walk in the park when compared to the descent at Krishnasar pass.

Descent down Nichnai pass.
Nichnai Valley.
Fast flowing river in Nichnai Valley. ND filters used to slow down shutter speed.
As we reached the bottom of Nichnai pass, the clouds had turned really dark, and it started raining on and off. The problem with this is: When it was raining, we would put on the jacket to keep ourselves warm. But the moment the rains disappeared, we would start feeling hot. We were putting on our jackets and removing them every 10 minutes!.

The rains brought with it another problem. The trail had become wet and slippery. Even though we were walking a straight path, most of the trail is strewn with rocks which had now become slippery. Navigating these rocks was becoming a night mare.

The long road towards Shokdari.
The rocky trail is slippery after the rains.
It is at this stage that Shawn started getting really tired and must have regretted his decision to send the support team (along with his horse) ahead to Shokdari to setup the tent. Now he had no choice but to continue trekking with us. But one thing about Shawn is that once he decides to do something, he will do it - regardless of the hardships. Today, he had decided he would complete the whole trek, and he was determined he would do it.

Finally, after 8 hours of really tough trekking, we reached Shokhdari.

Shokhdari - overlooking Sonamarg.
Sonamarg mountain range.
Shokhdari is a small shepherd village that overlooks Sonamarg. After being in total wilderness for more than 6 days, we could see signs of civilization down in the valley. We were still not yet in the civilization, but the radio signals of the mobile phones reaches here - which means we could finally make the much awaited phone calls to our families who were completely out of touch with us for the past 6 days (we had lost the signal the moment we climbed Naranag mountain).

Our phone batteries were dead, but the local shepherds have moved along with the times and all carry mobiles. We borrowed a mobile from one of the shepherd and quickly made our calls letting our family know we are safe and sound.

That night, we slept like logs. W knew the trek was over. Only a short descent to Sonamarg awaited us the next day, but essentially, this was the end of the road.

You can read about our Day 7 by clicking here.


Anonymous said...

Cheers Shawn. Shawn, you must be extremely lucky to have a dad like Cajie.

hotels at kodaikanal said...

nice blog

wonderlust said...

It is really a nice blog! Can you give me the route plan & expense detail! I want to do this trek. Please mail me at -
I need your help! Waiting for your reply!

Thanking you,

Anonymous said...

hi Cajie

I am using to the kashmir great lake trek this july but it starts from sonmarg..will it be as difficult as the one you undertook?

Cajie said...

I am assuming the Great lakes refers to the Vishansar/Kishansar. This is a very popular and relatively easy trek from Sonamarg to the lakes and back.

Krishna Bhat said...

Very well captured. Thanks for sharing. I did this trek this July and here goes my shots.

Thanks for sharing this story on the wonderful and exotic nature trail.
I did this trek during this july. Travelogue and photos here.