In order to travel to Haramosh, one has to travel upon the road from Jaglot to Skardu, (in the Gilgit-Baltistan Region) to the town of Sassi, an hour-long drive if no landslides and windstorms await you! We luckily escaped one.
I vividly recall the mountains I saw during this hour. They had some astonishing, light yellowish, horizontal patterns. The Sassi area is well-known because of the minerals found in these mountains, including aquamarine, a green-blue gem stone and hydroxylherderite. The wide valley, which the road cut through, was covered with scattered clouds. A muddy river flowed alongside at a torrential speed.
From Sassi, we travelled onwards in jeeps to the village of Dache (Dassu), located at roughly an altitude of 2400m. Ten minutes into this 17 km ride, heavy winds started blowing and when the rain came down, the jeep began to swing precariously. However, merciful nature allowed us to safely emerge after fifteen minutes, under a bright sun. The driver carefully maneuvered through risky turns, with drops of hundreds of meters on either side. We travelled through mostly barren topography, with occasionally stunning views of green pastures. These cultivated lands of the villagers amidst large brown mountains reflect the challenging living conditions in the region.
As the sun was setting, the camping site for the first day was reached after 2 hours of trekking alongside a man-made fresh water stream, on a soft pasture like ground.
Early next morning, I feasted my eyes on the 6069 metres tall, Laila Peak while enjoying my breakfast. The initial trek comprised of an ascent through the village where the farmers had demarcated their plots of land through wooden fences. A few hours into the trek, it became clear that the drill was the same: climb, climb and climb. By noon time, after trekking through forests, the group reached a wide, calm river with a riverbed full of greyish stones. I got lost here for a while, because the rest of the group was either ahead or behind me. The deforestation in the area was alarming, and the widespread scale of this illegal logging needs to be addressed immediately and urgently by the authorities.
Meanwhile, a shy and charming local girl emerged from the distance with a herd of goats. I asked her if I was on the right path to the jheel, but she did not comprehend me. Through gestures and her own language, she tried informing me that I should wait there, since the rest of my group was nearby.
When I rejoined my group, another challenging ascent followed, in light rain, which made our movements slippery. The temperature dropped as dark clouds hid the sun. After an hour's trek, we waited next to a glacier for better weather. We had to now walk through this large volume of moving ice to reach the other side of the valley, which required technical skill and training. There were no alternative trails that we could follow, but instead, we had to search for the particular man-made pile of rocks that could help us navigate the crossing. Moreover, we had to cover the distance speedily, because even one wrong step into the deadly crevices would be dangerous. After one hour thirty minutes, the 25 trekkers and porters managed to cross this glacier. Every now and then the thudding sound of melting glaciers gave me goose bumps.
On the other-side of the glacier, after another hour of trekking up the forest we ended up in a valley blooming with wild spring flowers, and a few villagers looking after their cattle grazing on the verdant pasture. The trek that followed was through spectacular vistas of meadows, surrounded by tall snow clad mountains. Just before dark, we reached Kutwal Emerald Lake. Since it had started to drizzle, the camps were set up without wasting time, and a fire lit to help fight the biting cold.
The clouds had veiled the view when we reached the lake. But in the morning, the vibrant Haramosh Valley was stunningly beautiful. The lake reflected its own beautiful version of the valley; a mesmerizing sight. After savouring the beauty of the Haramosh Valley for a few hours, we headed back to Dassu village.
On the way back, I came across an old man who was supporting himself with a stick. His face was pale and he had covered himself in rugged, warm clothes. He stopped and asked me for painkillers for his aching knees. I shared the Panadol and Dispirin I was carrying and it brought home to me the difficult living conditions of the locals.
Haramosh is one of the most scenic treks in terms of the diverse views it offers. The trek provides a combination of the beautiful villages with snow covered mountains, plentiful livestock, forests, meadows, glaciers and the enthralling Kutwal Lake.
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