This was during the nineties when we were in our prime youth always ready to experience something new and novel and ready to brave challenges thereof.
One such great adventure, that we embarked upon was when the three of us, Ch. Shafaat, Imran, and I made it to Skardu and Gilgit. We flew, we drove and even walked intermittently on foot wherever we deemed necessary, because of the massive landslides on the way. We journeyed through one of the most perilous mountainous stretches ever. Traversing a long long way we found ourselves in a rickety Inn which stood atop a mountain in a small qasba whose name I tend to forget now. We were picked up from this eerie kind of ghost place where we had spent a night about 50 miles off Gilgit. A harrowing experience, yet excited to witness more. And there an army officer drove up from afar in a typically designed Toyota jeep usually available to the officers on duty, very fervently we hopped in.
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Exhilarated with joy and ensconced in the seats we heaved a sigh of relief at last. We were exhausted, and tired. The thrilling part was still to unfold slowly and steadily. Now we headed out for Gilgit Our tour now had formally commenced. We went straight to the GOC House. Treated very warmly there we were greeted and welcomed with open arms by the then GOC Irshsd Ullah Tarar. He seemed like a gun-slinging macho of the wild west. What a great man he is. He did his best in entertaining us, even organizing our trip to higher climbs. We were trekking, we were hiking.
During our long trip, we saw places like Paeja, Dasu, and the convoy saddle on the Siachen glacier so to speak. These are the three most strategic points where the battle-hardy soldiers of the Pak army are deployed. I salute their indomitable courage for they bear the toughest of weather conditions in a bid to defend their motherland the contouring lines on the merciless vertical peaks. We went around, cruising in a helicopter. The snow line is another absolutely stunning sight. It was a jaw-droppingly crazy adventure. One gets completely mesmerized. One could go on to live with the hypnotic effect for years. The viewer is totally bedazzled and gazes in wonderment every single minute. Only to think of Allah s magnificence.
Imagine how terribly interesting our visit to Naltar would have been, when trying to scale and ski, just came tumbling down from the icy slope never again mustering up the courage to perform the act relentlessly rather recklessly. The General was adept at skiing. Seemed like a pro. The day was wrapped up with fun frolic and amusement.
Our final goal was to actually go hunt down a trophy, one of our main objectives, hence we were shown and taken to a designated spot where the probability of finding the markhor was maximum. It was a heavenly sight. Through the precision telescopic SIGHT, one could spot the hazy pack of markhors which were like a mirage a moving deceptive image. Imran shot a markhor at a place called Byecha. This was very adventurous. How we recovered the animal is another story… putting a dingy in the fast-flowing rapids getting across the river. Climbing up the mountain. Recovering it and positioning it in the back while making a rapid descent. The majestic animal hung LOOSE on the very back of this intrepid officer who didn’t find the job cumbersome a bit The taxidermized animal is still hung by one of the walls of our humble abode in Gt. It was a remarkable trip of course.
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My heartfelt thanks to General sahib and the valiant team of brave officers who had been there from the start helping us every step of the way. Some of them may not be living now, but the very thought of their passing is deeply regretted. May they have a higher place in Jannah. I have never done anything as dramatic as this one. Absolute fun – could feel the adrenaline rush and the blood pulsating through the veins incessantly. We saw the vast nothingness while aboard a helicopter.
The snow-capped mountains and the majestic peaks were breathtaking sights. A treat to the eyes and feast to the soul indeed. It was so fabulous!!
I wish I could do the same once more. I mean for those young aspiring adventurers, they must go and try out. I must thank my friend Shafaat here who actually conceived the idea of this amazing trip and thanks to his brother-in-law Ch. Riaz who had hooked us up with the head honcho in Gilgit. Surely without his help, we wouldn’t have made it.
Pakistan is a country of exuberant plains, mighty rivers, majestic peaks, and deep oceans. It is time to save the grandeur, the beauty. We must devise ways to clean our altitudes. Keep them clean always. Even the Swiss alps are a no match to our massive mountains that catch the attention of travelers across the globe. We must do our best to conserve and preserve the flora and fauna.
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