Finalizing the major trek to be done for a particular year is always a very interesting exercise to do. For every trekker, there is always a list of to-dos ready either explicitly or somewhere in the back of mind. Input comes from fellow trekkers, some past shared pictures on social media or finally the relevant books mentioning treks in the North.
This year was different. Till last week, I wasn’t sure if and when I am going for the major trek of year. I was waiting for the confirmation of my official out-of-country trip that had to happen somewhere in the summer and it had the potential to jeopardize all of my trekking plans for the year. Finally last week, I got that other trip confirm and dates finalized. It is going to be 6-7 weeks post Eid including whole of August. That comes with a problem – these were the dates I was planning to go for my major expedition for the year. I had to reevaluate and reconsider all the options. I must be home before the start of Ramadan and so that left me with only one option – leave on this weekend – weekend of June 6th.
It was thus a very quick and raw brain-storming. I had pretty much locked Chilinji as the target for 2015 but as I observed in the Babun valley trek a couple of weeks back, there is still a lot of snow present above 3000 meters altitude. That raises some concerns as the descend from Chilinji to Ishkoman side is 1500 meters – steep and mostly on scree. I would rather prefer to do Chilinji in July/August time frame. So what are the other options?
Maybe I could do something in the Ghizer/Ishkoman area where there are some very interesting low altitude treks including Asumber and Thui – and it finally got locked to these two. Now the question is who else can join on such a short notice? Some of my regular trekking partners had already planned for Kachigani and Bashkoro during the same dates – I had no interest in visiting same area that I had been to last year. So I excused them and contacted my 3-4 other regular trekking friends. It was a very short notice of course, and quite unexpectedly one by one they dropped off – the latest yesterday. I would have preffered Thui pass because that is more worth the major trek of year – starts from Yasin valley and ends up near Mastuj. However, maybe not a very good choice if I am going alone!
So here I am – with a one way NATCO ticket to Gakuch in my hand – heading towards the Ishkoman and Asumber. The bus departs at 4 PM – it’s 1 PM right now and I am sitting at my office. My rucksack is half ready – no food yet purchased with many other small things to be purchased as well. This is going to be one of my most unplanned treks 🙂
Trekking alone however would not be an entirely unique experience for me. I did Shimshal Pass trek back in 2009 – alone with a porter and I quite frankly enjoyed that. Walking alone gives you unmatched freedom and solitude. Plus, if you are alone, you really get to interact with the locals and live with them like them. The hospitality you receive from people of North in this case is unmatched. I will mainly be moving along the settlements which makes me less worried about the food. I don’t plan to go beyond a single rucksack and a tent and all I can afford is what can fit in that rucksack. Let’s see…. 🙂