Hitch Hiking in Kaghan Valley

Kaghan: The “Unseen” Rhapsody” Part-3



trek to Dodipitsar Lake
As part of the plan to camp at Lulusar, I unloaded my bag at one of the places closer to the lake and waited for the tourists to disappear.  Gradually as the crowd started thinning out, I spotted a place and started assembling the camp. Nature, however, had more surprises for me in store. As I finished up assembling the camp, I realized that strong wind has already picked up. The narrow mountain gorge was not only increasing the velocity of the wind but also directing it right towards me.

I waited, starring at my flipping and spluttering camp helplessly. I waited for an hour. It was 4 in the evening.  There weren’t any locals around who could have been asked for help. The clouds were building up, winds getting stronger by the minute. Tourists have gradually all disappeared, making me the lonesome visitor at the lake with no one close by miles.

It was now time to redo he calculations. I knew that the weather condition will not improve. Going back could take another painful stride of two hours, although downhill, but all my energy had already completely drained. There was however, no other choice. Without any further ado, I rolled up my tent, buckled up and started my way down. By the time I reached Baisal, slight drizzle had already started. I unloaded at the only hotel at Baisal- a stone brick construction with a roof of straw and wooden planks. It was hard for me to even talk, sit straight or even lie down. I ordered for some food- a corn bread and some grams- real bread in two days.

I located a site for my camp behind the hotel. Assembled my camp, put on my jacket and stood outside to memorize the precious moments of twilight at Baisal. As I stood there listening to the tumbling and winding Kunhar, I reevaluated the whole expedition. Although a jagged little pill to swallow, I had to accept the fact that my calculations so far, have all come to grief. The motivation to forge ahead with the expedition had severally deteriorated.

​Just when I was about to unzip the tent and hit the sack, I was approached by three local shepherds from the other side of the river.  They offered services of a guide to my expedition to Lake Dodipit. I realized that the locals have become well aware of the presence of a lonely traveler in the area, self sufficient in boarding and lodging and who has his plans of reaching Dodipit on his own. I received fresh info about the trek to Saral. According to them a huge glacier was still blocking the narrow gorge to Saral and that it was nearly impossible to make it to Saral without professional ice trekking gear including crampons and ropes. After a little negotiation, we settled down on a two day guide service to Dodipit and back, on a reasonable sum of money. As I lay quietly inside my sleeping bag, waiting to dose off, it started raining.  First a slight drizzle, which turned into a strong drizzle, then rain, followed by heavy rain. It rained all night. Luckily however, I and my baggage inside all remained dry.


A “Nullah” originating from Lake Dodipit.
I woke up at 7:30 in the morning the next day, had some snacks and a cup of tea from the local hotel as I packed my stuff. The guide showed up exactly at 8:00. A kid of 19 named mussaddiq. From the very first glance, I knew he would be just fine, following straight orders and not arguing or advising unnecessarily. The path to the lake is the most treacherous one and can only be attempted on foot or over mules and horses. We crossed the river on a wench-locally installed and manually operated- and scary enough to give you goose bumps all over. We started off slowly by the riverside. I was feeling weightless for once in three days as my heavy backpack was being carried over by mussadiq.  The path turned out to be more perilous then what I have anticipated. We had to cross many glaciers which were lying over the river, several meters thick and acting as a bridge for trekkers like us and many of the local shepherds and their herds. We reached“mulla ki basti” a small hamlet of houses made out of stone and mainly inhabited by the nomadic shepherds and their herds. The hamlet acts as a base camp before the final hike to Dodipit, providing small amount of food supplies and even tents on rent.

….to be continued
Part – 4