Monday, July 21, 2008

Time to hit the KKH

July 21 '08
between the two days that we stayed in Islamabad and our arrival in karimabad via the KKH - much had transpired to make the journey happen (that's a story in and off of itself, which i wont get into here).
By now Gul, and his brother Mirzaw, who was accompanying us on the journey, knew all about our mix up. however over very tasty local dinner at 'hidden paradise hotel' in Karimabad, my response to his very direct 'why did you not choose me?' was almost blurting out the truth, but for nadirs nudge and scowling face and everyone else's gaping mouths and 'NO DON'T' looks - i gave him a muddled bullshit answer. he didn't buy it of course - there would still be some explaining to do.

July 23 '08
we rode into Shimshal village in full style - two jeep loads of 'samaan', three overly cheerful youngsters and two very satisfied mamas for having even gotten this far!

July 24 '08
a day to acclimatize, get to know our Shimshali surroundings, meet its people, eat its food, and just absorb our beautiful surroundings.

sadly that rest day we came upon a fast failing rescue operation. a 27 year old British climber hadn't made it back down from Shimshal white horn. much against the advice of his two fellow climbers he'd attempted to go solo. before heading to the mountain by foot, the two of them (Bruce and Peter)were now waiting for a helicopter rescue to see if they could spot his whereabouts from up above. by this time he was 7 days overdue. an earlier team hadn't found any trace of him. two weeks later we were to find out that two helicopter rescue attempts were made, including his team mates attempts to walk in, but ----- was never to be found - shimshal's white horn had claimed him as one of its own.
we also met a very pleasant Scotsman, Simon, in the village - traveling in full Scottish gear to boot - whom we met up with later at Shimshal pass, and at the Woolio festival. i invited him to visit us in Pasadena, which he said someday he might do. This was his first trip to Pakistan.

July 25 - 8am to 8pm day
our first days walk to 'past furzins' campsite was one grueling day for each and everyone of us. the trail endless, loosing and gaining elevation all the time. we all got to camp at different times, nafeesah making it much before anyone else, nadir not too far behind her, nargis next and finally Kamila and myself trailing in a couple of hours later!!! the very last section was 'dry skiing' just running down scree all the way to camp! so physically exhausting but mentally exhilarating. wed had our first day under our belts, now prepared well for long tiring walks in the days to come. each day the terrain would be similar yet very different. each day wed marvel at how the villagers had built these trails themselves, each section dedicated by a different family to one of its own. all to make it easier for their women, children and men to walk up to the high pastures of shimshal pass and beyond every year. no cranes, no dynamite, no fancy equipment - just sheer 'man power' and good engineering sense mixed with love and respect for not just family but the land they inhabit and revere.

cant seem to get the pictures where i want them - will figure it out by the time i end this story I'm sure - more to come----------

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