Hiking in Northern Pakistan

September 27, 2009 at 6:32 am Leave a comment

I needed out of the city, out of the day-to-day routine and for five amazing days I escaped into the mountains of Northern Pakistan.  Certainly the four day hiking trip to Gilgit and the Hunza Valley was one of the highlights of my close to five months in this complex and fascinating country.  Thanks to a colleague’s contacts, I was well taken care of and safe, safe, safe (really!). 

Crossing the Glacier

Crossing the Glacier

Our team consisted of two porters, a guide, a cook and a driver all for me.  It was a little embarassing.  But never more gratefully needed as we hiked over the Passu Glacier for two hours and the local porters faithfully and unerringly found our way over and between crevices from one side to the other in about two hours.  And thanks to the cook – who knew that the local apricots are a cure for altitude sickness!  And thanks to the guide for keeping me company and carrying my pack while I desperately told myself with every little step that the miserable side-effects of altitude sickness was really only a function of mind over matter! 

But oh the rewards were so worth it.  We arrived to the Patundas viewpoint peak of over 4,100m in excellent weather and wonderful 360 degree views of 16 peaks – many snow-covered.  After a night in 2C temperatures, we then traversed the sides of many shale mountains before slip-sliding over 1,500m down a mountain and even further down into the bowels of the Batura Glacier. 

Along the way we met absolutely no one except for a large number of boy scouts cleaning up the summer hut by the glacier.  Watching the boys in the closing ceremony singing, dancing and having fun was such pleasure.  Turns out our porter is also a Scout Leader in his village and he gave a short inspiring speech to the boys.  When the boys left for the two hour trek to their village, they lined up like the dwarfs from Snow White and off they went, singing and shouting like 10-16 years boys do.  So inspiring.

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