• Soulsearchnomad

Kashmir Great Lakes, what's in Store for you

Updated: Aug 31

The rugged mountains, splendid valleys of flowers, tricky boulder sections, challenging passes, mesmerizing lakes with glaciers, peaceful views of grazing sheep and horses, shepherds and their beautiful homes, interesting conversations with the army men, all of this and more to explore. Each day you are fascinated by the bounty that nature offers, as they say Jannat e Kashmir, the Heaven

It is categorized as a moderate to difficult trek, and also the most beautiful trek, I would agree with it completely. Throughout the trek, you are ascending and descending while walking at an average of 13 km each day.

I was here in August 2021. After exploring Srinagar and Pehelgam, we headed off to Shitkadi, the base camp of Kashmir Great Lakes. I will talk to you about what we did in Srinagar in another post.

Note: I prefer doing the sightseeing of the touristy places, atleast the most part before the trek, because after I am done with the trek I am assured I would have already seen the best part "Jannnat" of Kashmir.

We moved from Shitkadi - Nichnai - Vishnusar - Gadsar - Satsar - Naranag.

Maximum altitude gain during this trek is 13800ft after the Gadsar pass.

Shitkadi is a beautiful base camp overlooking the mountains. The trek lead provides a briefing about the trek, how to pack your trek bags, what to expect, shares the do's and don'ts of the trek, provides your sleeping bags, and allows you rest and acclimatize before you start for the trek the next day.

You see the Sindh valley, pass through forests, and some boulder sections on Day 2. I was dumbstruck on seeing the valleys from the top. You camp in Nichnai.

On Day 3 you will witness the first alpine lake of the trek, the Vishnusar lake. After passing by the mountains, the boulder sections, lush, green meadows, and some icy spots as well, you reach the Vishnusar camp. You stop by the streams for lunch. Make sure you reach the base camp before sunset, so you get a splendid view of the lake and get to spend time with the still, placid, and glassy waters.

The next day you are set to go through the Gadsar pass. This is a tricky pass. The weather has to be on your side. If it rains it is extremely difficult to cross the pass. But as you say it, you get the best view after the most difficult climb. You see the Vishnusar and Kishansar lakes from the top. You are now at 13800 feet altitude.

As they say, nature has its ways to refresh you. After the strenuous ascend, you are invited to the floral valleys. It is a unique landscape like they lay the flowers to welcome you, and you feel guilty to stamp the delicate wildflowers on your path. You see the Gadsar lake with floating icebergs in it. It is said that the Gadsar lake has a folklore. This lake is also called Yemser. The lake of Yama (death). It is not advised to get into the lake. It is said that those who have attempted to get into the lake have not returned.

Salutes to the Indian Army

On Day 4 you are already witnessing the grandeur of Kashmir Great Lakes.

You are headed towards the Satsar camp. We again say hello to army men here, after Shitkadi. There are bunkers here. You must provide your identification and the army men take the pictures of the group. It is better to be nice and cooperative with them. One army guy tells me, " Four people of the same family, cannot stay in a house. We come from different places and stay here together. There are extreme climates, packed food, sometimes we end up taking the bodies of our army brothers to their families. We do not fight over minor issues, we have a bigger agenda to stay together. We stay away from our families to keep you safe. So don't worry. Go as far as you want. You have our men protecting you." I was shaken. Feeling emotional and thankful as well. Hats off to these men.

Further ahead, after the Gangabal camp, there is an army base camp.

There is more scrutiny here. The army may check us and our belongings. We are asked not carry drones with us.

It is their toil, sweat, and blood that we sit down at ease and talk about the minor issues and discomforts.

So back to the Satsar lakes. This is my favorite lake on the trek. Satsar, as the name says, is a group of seven lakes. To view the 7th lake of this pass, you must climb another hill after you reach the base camp. The hidden treasure is behind this mountain. Imagine you have covered the day's trek, you reach the camp, and you are asked to climb another hill to see the Satsar lake. I was tired and hesitant. But I know, I am here for this, so I rather do it. And when you reach there.. you are served the grandeur of the lakes. Totally worth the climb.

On Day 5, you move towards Gangabal. You start this day with boulder sections. It is a long and strenuous walk. It is tricky and challenging. As you reach the shoulder, you are invited by the Gangabal, Nangbal lakes, and a lake hiding behind the clouds, Harmukh. You see also see some spots of ice that have not melted with the change in the season.

Thankful to the Mountains

In every post, I always would like to thank the mountains for letting me in. We were the fortunate batch of the season to make it so far. Two batches had returned as the climate was not favorable to cross the Gadsar pass. Some could not make it through the trek because of their unpreparedness. I was deeply thankful and emotional. Whenever I am in the Himalayas, it is a transformational experience. I feel the mountains stand there like a father to protect us. I insist we respect the fact that the mountains allowed us in. Here is another note I always want to share with my friends in the mountains

So after Gangabal, it is a steep descend. This day you again pass through the beautiful forests. You see pine, birch, and cherry trees, army bunkers and meet the civilization after 5 days on this trail. You start getting your mobile network as well.

Naranag is the base camp and you return to Srinagar

Summing Up

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