Last summer, I went on a beautiful trekking journey into the heart of Hunza, Nagar Valley, also known as the home of Karakoram’s mightiest peaks. The journey was an exhilarating, thrilling, soulful, and an extremely rejuvenating experience. I had the opportunity to venture deep within the wild, and feast my eyes on the astounding glory of snow-capped peaks and breathtaking landscape of the Karakoram. We were on our way to trek the mighty and magnificent Rakaposhi, and I had little idea of the magnanimity of the task that was waiting for me.
Prior to this trek, I had a laughable trekking history, having covered only a few swamps and lakes in Punjab. I was not prepared for the task ahead of me, and I had no realization of this fact until I started walking along with my few other friends. From the very first step, we began mounting a very sharply steep incline, which was extremely exhausting for an exercise-deprived person like me. After covering the first mountain, a small topping on a gigantic cake compared with what lay ahead of us, the realization that my stamina is lower than my ankles, hit me hard.
I walked panting, ranting and raving, stopping every now and then, catching my breath before I began the laborious trek ahead. Why did I get myself into this? I was climbing a dangerously steep mountain in Nagar Valley, an experience I had conjured up in my mind as a pleasant journey where I swiftly walk in the meadows wearing my hooded fur jacket. In contrast, the reality was different; I was walking under the scorching heat of the sun, and its blazing gaze frying my back and skin popped the bubble.
As a matter of fact, it wasn’t all that bad. Every now and then, we would come by a beautiful little stream with icy cold water running down from the melting glaciers. I would dip my head inside, wash my hair and it would rejuvenate me all over again. After walking for over seven hours, we reached HapaKun, nature’s very own gardening masterpiece, and there I had the pleasure of eating Maggi Noodles in the mountains. Isn’t that amazing?
With every step deeper into the terrain, the beauty of the region grew denser and more astounding. Suddenly, the exhaustion and difficulty of the trek faded. I was delighted; I feasted my eyes on the breathtaking scenery around me. While some parts of the trek was dominated by beautiful and lush meadows surrounded by sky high peaks, some areas were filled with dense vegetation, mountain cows, and tress that disappeared into nothingness.
It took us five more hours to complete the rest of the journey. We had to cross over six mountains in total, of which the last three were the deadliest; and the last one nearly killed me! It was frighteningly steep, and I was so terrified of falling on my face that I began walking like an old hunchback. When we reached the Mina Pin glacier, the barely-there track that led us to the basecamp, took the life out of me. I named this treacherously deadly trek, “The death trail”, and little by little, like all dark and dangerous turns in one’s life, it too came to an end.
But we made it to the other side alive. Feasting my eyes on the beautiful and magnificent Rakaposhi upfront, was an ethereal and spiritual experience that nourished, healed and beautified me in more ways than one.
Journeys deep into the wild are journeys that one takes within oneself, and the track runs as deep as one is prepared to go. Sometimes, the wisest thing to do is to disconnect your Wi-Fi, power off all your devices, throw away your Evians, and leave your air conditioned safe havens to explore the uncertainty, adventure, and thrill of the mountains.