A Journey to Remember

On a chill evening having a cup of tea with my friends, I received a call from my colleague who asked me, do you want to go to fairy meadows? without any hesitation, I said yes because I had never been to Fairy Meadows. But there was a catch I had to lead a group of 10 people.

I work Tourism Industry, had an office job, never done that before but I said I will manage.

Abdul Moeed Shawl at Nanga ParbatOur Trip started from Islamabad in Mid-October, our first stay was in Sharan Forest, wind whistling around trunks, disturbing the leaves. The trees lashed and crashed against each other, the forest was so dense, and the continuous sound of wind disturbing the leaves and brisk forest air made it so peaceful.

For The next day, we had to visit Naran and Saif ul Malook, we reached Naran after a short drive, took jeeps from there, had an easy 45 min off-road drive, and reached Saif ul Malook, I had been there many times but every time Saif ul Mlaook gave a new sensation, the lake is exceedingly clear and pure, it was statute still, beautiful and delightful. The Snow-capped Mountains and their shadow in crystal clear lake made its serenity. We had a night stay in Batakundi which had lovely views.

On the third day we had the plan to reach fairy meadows via Babusar top, but when we reached Baisal, the road was closed and there was the prediction of snow, and they won’t let anyone cross the top. It was a very big disappointment for me and the group, I gave them different options either we can visit swat, Kashmir or travel two more days to reach Fairy Meadows via Beesham, Dassu. They said as it would take 2 days going and 2 days coming back so our 4 days would be wasted during travel, they opted for Swat. My heart shredded into pieces, and I did not want to continue the trip, but I had the responsibility of 10 people. So, I put myself in a good mood and started our journey back to Beesham, we had the plan to stay in Beesham and move to swat for the next day as it was very nearby. The next morning, I Woke up late because we did not have much travel for the day, as I came in the lawn of the hotel, the group was having a discussion and when they saw me they all shouted “we want to go to fairy Meadows”, it Sparked a new life in me, I replied in excitement “if you want to go  I would take you there”, as we all knew this journey won’t be easy, we had to travel a lot, we started our journey around 1 pm and it was going to be long day traveling and road sections in Dassu region will break your bones and never-ending Old Silk route will take you down. But we kept on going, we were tired but still had the feeling of accomplishment as we were conquering the road. We Finally reached Raikot Bridge around 2 am and told the group to get as much sleep as they can because we had to get up at 6 am.

At Sharp 6 am I woke them up, they started getting ready and within an hour we were ready to leave for Fairy Meadows. We Booked the jeeps from Raikot bridge and started our journey the road was quite good in condition, not many bumps, but it was so extremely narrow which makes it dangerous and adventurous. Before Hiking, we had our breakfast there. As we started, I knew I was going to be faster than others, because I was born in mountains and I have been doing a lot of activities like this, every year I go tracking and camping. I told them the Hotel’s name and started my hike alone because I had some other plans in my mind, During the Hike, I suddenly saw the Nanga Parbat aka Murshad, it was breathtaking I sat there for a few minutes and kept staring at it. After a short break I started my hike again I knew I was near Fairy Meadows, but I kept on going fast because I planned to do Bayal Camp the same day as we had one night stay. I reached fairy meadows in 2 Hours. 4G was working on S.Com so I searched for Bayal Camp it showed that Camp was straight ahead but it was not showing any track on the map but I could see a track going there, During the hike to Fairy Meadows I asked locals how much time it would take me from Fairy Meadows to Bayal camp they said as you have good speed it would hardly take you 45 mins.

So, I decided to stick to my plan and moved forward towards Bayal camp. I did not tell anyone that I was going to Bayal Camp, neither my group which was still on way to Fairy Meadows nor my hotel because I did not go to the hotel, I came straight to Bayal Camp track. I Started my track, after 20 mins of hiking the forest got denser and the track started to fade but I kept going. I reached a point where there was no track and trees were fallen due to a strong flood or glacier, I crossed that section by climbing over fallen trees and some footprints of locals and I did not realize that I made a wrong turn there instead of going straight I was moving along the left side, and it been almost 50 mins I was hiking continuously without taking any break. I realized that I should have reached camp by now, so I decided to climb a mountain on my left side and see what is there, my thoughts were camp was behind these mountains. When I climbed the mountain, my jaw dropped and I went into shock I realized I have been hiking along Riakot Glacier, I opened the maps there were no signals even though GPS was not working.

I Sat there I was hungry too because I had only breakfast and kept nothing to eat with me while hiking, this was where I made the biggest mistake. I planned to reach Bayal camp and eat something there. But I was there, sitting hungry, tired, and lost. It was around 3 Pm, so I decided to move back to Fairy Meadows because I wanted to be out of Forest before it turns dark, and I did not want to take any more risk, that was enough for today. I started to move back and reached that flood point again, after crossing it, I realized that I took the wrong track because I knew I did not come from this track. I was lost again in the middle of Forest, do not know where to go I was feeling so weak due to hunger and tired too. This is where I got scared. I started getting hallucinations, felt like, from every direction, people are calling me on the right track in this way.

I started to remember Allah and promised Allah that I would never do that stupidity again in my life. I gathered some courage and started to find my foot prints this time I was marking points that I was crossing in a bid to find the right way the area was a total mess, as I was looking forward and moving backward, I bumped into a fallen tree and fell. By the Grace of Allah, I was not hurt or injured, I knew If I could not make it out from here before evening, I would be dead, because no one knew where I was, and the mobile network was not working. As I stand up from falling, I saw my footprint in the snow behind the fallen tree. It was help from Allah, I got back to the right track and reached back to Fairy Meadows. I thanked Allah and rushed straight to the hotel kitchen and fell on the bench. The caretaker of the hotel came to me asked me if I was alright, he knew me by my name as it was the first time, we were meeting we were in contact, I told them who I was and what happened to me and told him to give me something to eat he quickly gave me a cup of tea and two full-sized biscuits as the meal was cooking, I ate all of it.

Then I Went out on the hotel lawn sat facing “Murshid” and kept looking at it. The craggy mountain keeps attracting you like it is calling you to come more closer to it. You know it would be suicidal, but you will take the chance due to its allure. It Stands like a Giant there and another mountain around it feels like they are not present there, you won’t be able to keep your eyes off Nanga Parbat.

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