Kashmir Great Lakes Trek – Day 3 – Nichnai to Vishansar

In continuation ofย https://ghumakkarindian.com/2022/08/26/kashmir-great-lakes-trek-day-2-shitkadi-to-nichnai/

Sleep was elusive again. How much can one sleep anyways when you hit the ground at 8.30 pm!! When there was a little daylight around 5.30 am I finally stepped out to examine the surroundings.

My humble abode on the trek

Morning tea had been requested for 5 am but there was no sight of it till now. Walked up to the kitchen tent to inquire & found that it was being prepared. Breakfast consisted of paranthas & omellettes yet again. A change of menu was badly needed!

Caught unawares by Mr Kannan ๐Ÿ™‚

Today was a day of great excitement as we were supposed to be finally seeing our first lake of the trek & we set off for our destination Vishansar exactly at 7 am.

The immediate challenge was to climb to Nichnai Pass which lay at an altitude of 4080 m (13400 feet), more than 2000 feet above our current elevation. The promise of a dhaba there with adequate supplies of Maggi though fuelled our enthusiasm ๐Ÿ™‚

The route ahead with Nichnai Pass beyond the saddle

It is surprising how easy a mountain track looks from a distance but how treacherous it turns out from close quarters! We were now at 11500 feet plus altitude & while every step required a conscious effort, the rocks & boulders were definitely not making life any easier!

The landscape otherwise was beautiful & made us forget some of the agony.

A 1000 feet up & an hour of trekking later I stopped for a breather. The surroundings were just right to pause & absorb the beauty. After all, the journey is as important as the destination, right?

We were making slow but steady progress. The biggest advantage of trekking in a small group is that its easier to keep pace with each other (unless of course you’re hungry & race ahead of everyone else in search of food ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ )

A backwards view of the surroundings with the Kannans negotiating a hill

A little later an unnamed small lake came into view on the other side of the valley. There was of course no time to explore it!

Let’s call this Nichnai Lake

The dhaba, of whose existence I had by now begun to have doubts, finally came into view.

 

A patch of flowers enroute Nichnai Pass

A couple of steep climbs which tested our willpower & some 2 hrs later since we started in the morning we finally made it to the Pass, almost cursing ourselves to be paying to undergo this voluntary torture!! The glacial source of Nichnai river was visible from here.

Hot kahwa & of course the magic noodles were ordered post-haste & soon took care of any feelings bordering on abandonment of the trek ๐Ÿ™‚

Mr Kannan slayed me this time !!

A few guides & porters from other groups had also reached the Pass by then & Mr Kannan again did not let this opportunity pass.

Pic courtesy Mr Kannan

With our hunger pangs satiated & tired limbs given some much needed rest, we set off again on the remaining part of our journey to Vishansar lake. Hereafter it was a continuous descent followed by a flattish portion to reach our destination which still lay some 2 hrs away from the top of the Pass.

The track was now becoming more & more beautiful with every passing step. Pink flowers had begun to appear in abundance & the landscape started to resemble its more famous & bigger counterpart, the Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand.

 

Another closeup of the beautiful track

I know I have said this before, but the whole terrain was so beautiful that had we not been short of time & on a fixed itinerary we could’ve stopped there & easily spent hours just gazing at the countryside!

 

We made it to our campsite at Vishansar around 12.30 pm. We were the first trekkers to arrive on the scene while the tents of other groups were still being set up at different locations in the area. Lunch was still being prepared so took time to organise my residence & have a look around.

A panoramic view of the Vishansar bowl (the water body visible is not the lake)

We had reached our camp but the lake was still not visible. Further inquiries revealed that it lay hidden behind a little hill some 15-20 mins of further walk away. Our first lake was definitely not coming easy ๐Ÿ™‚ The photographer inside Mr Kannan couldn’t wait & without wasting any time he was off to get some ‘first visuals’ of the Vishansar lake. Mrs Kannan soon followed in hot pursuit & both returned in time with glorious tales of the amazing sight that they had beheld! I was by now super curious to feast my eyes too on the ‘fabled land’ (in this case, waters), so to say, but decided to pend it till lunch & a little shut eye.

I had decided to proceed to the lake at 4.30 pm to avoid the blazing overhead sun. But it was equally uncomfortable inside the hot tent & so after a valiantly fought but lost battle with sleep, I got out at 3.30, wore my shoes & headed for my first encounter with the Vishansar lake.

The views indeed took my breath away!

Vishansar Lake – First Visual

The lake was deserted when I reached there. I walked around the perimeter to find myself a spot from where I thought I could get the best pics. It was time to put my GoPro to use & it yielded a satisfactory result.

The interplay between the wind driven ripples, passage of the receding sun casting shadows, clouds & the light created a beautiful effect. The whole effort of carrying the GoPro with its accessories seemed to be worth it.

Thus far I had not ventured to the lake bank. Dr Anupama happened to return again to the lake & happily obliged me with this pic.

Photo courtesy Dr Anupama

The lake had by now become crowded with hordes of trekkers of various groups, some of whom rather overenthusiastically had stepped into the seemingly placid waters & going a step further even decided to take a swim to a mixed response of cheering & shrieking from the onlookers. Right when we had reached the campsite we had been warned exactly not to indulge in such (mis)adventures as escapades of similar nature by visitors had resulted in some unwanted & tragic accidents earlier. We decided to walk back to the campsite hoping for better sense to prevail amongst the daredevil swimmers & praying for their safety.

Multicoloured tents of another company enroute our own camp

Our campsite by now had been overrun by hundreds of sheep who didn’t seem very happy at the unwanted invasion of their grazing ground by our tents.

By now it was twilight & a cup of hot tea later the light conditions were perfect to polish the camera skills further.

Another panoramic view of the area

Meanwhile Dr Anupama had a brilliant idea! It was full moon night, or so, & she suggested that when the moon would be up in the sky we walk to the lake to witness the effect of moonlight on the lake’s surface. We proposed the idea to our supporting crew who readily agreed to escort & guide us.

Dinner was announced bang at 7.30 pm & we took our designated spots inside the Mess Tent looking forward to a different fare than the usual sabzi (vegetable) & rice. Thankfully it was!

Candlelight dinner! Well, you can’t have everything ๐Ÿ™‚

Dinner over & the moon visible, we put our plan into action. Armed with torches & head lamps & with our guide Liyaquat in the lead we made a beeline for the lake, literally tiptoeing so as not to alert any other group of trekkers lest they stole a march & vantage point on us ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

The lake was pitch dark & even after waiting for over half an hour it didn’t appear that the moon would really reward us with the kind of sight that we had been expecting to see. It was almost 9 pm, well past our usual bedtime & there was a chill in the air. So after clicking whatever pics we could (I have nothing to share as my cameraphone doesn’t boast of a very great night picture shooting capability!) we returned to our sleeping bags & called it a day. It had been a long one.

 

3 Comments

  1. So heartening to keep track of the minutest detail of a week of our wondertrek through this blog๐Ÿ‘Œ

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