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Gulmit, Gojal
Upper Hunza Valley, Northern Areas, Pakistan

Northern Areas Pages

KKH-Ascent | KKH-Kohistan | Gilgit | Hunza-Main | Hunza-Altit | Hunza-Duikar | Gojal-Gulmit | Gojal-Pasu

Moving along the KKH toward China, the KKH turns sharply north to enter Gojal. After crossing the river, we came to a stop in front of a monstrous glacier extending from the mountains to the river. To cross it there was a large path bulldozed, on the other side of which the buses from the north waited. This is a common efficient practice, allowing rock and snow falls to be crossed by foot with passengers trading buses.

After crossing and waiting for everyone to get their things together, we rode north to Gulmit. We were to later find out that this same glacier had caused a blockage of the Hunza River in 1992 which completely cut off the valley for over a year. Along with causing extensive damage to Pasu, it was our secret wish for it to recur when we were in Gojal.

Gulmit was the `perfect spot' on this trip.
The apricot trees were just in bloom, covering the village with pink petals and a lovely fragrance. We stayed as the only guests at a place on the south end of the polo ground. Lying in the center of the main town, this gravely field serves as the pitch for the rare polo games as well as the nightly cricket matches by the village boys.

Our rooms were traditional, meaning that they were a second floor square room with smoke hole. Right outside the room was a small patio with a small wall. After a long day, this was the perfect private spot to watch cricket, relax, and write.

Terraced fields just sprouting and scattered houses in Gulmit. While there is a concentration of houses and a few shops near the KKH and around the polo grounds, residences surrounded by fields make up the majority of the settlement.

View of a `jeep road' and house above Gulmit. Here we questioned the sanity of those even thinking about a jeep, with the drop off, angled rock path difficult on foot.
Yet later in the day we saw a jeep across the hillside, we prayed we would not be offered a ride.

Hiking above Gulmit was incredible. As the first Westerners of the spring, we enjoyed fact there was no Coke in Gojal.

 

After coming to a village, we ran into this young girl. Cute and outgoing, she followed us as we passed the village. About the only thing she could say in English was to ask for a dollar. We asked about a path, she got determined for her dollar.

We thanked her, took a great picture of her, and tried to continue on. She followed behind, yelling for her dollar.

We walked faster. She kept following, waving over toward the edge of the mountain ridge. We could not see anything, and kept going. She kept following, more urgent.

After twenty minutes climbing an increasingly rocky and difficult path, we came across water. Crossing streams and climbing boulders, we continued along for close to another hour.

Eventually, we came to a vantage point to realize that we had climbed the terminal moraine of the local glacier. Leading nowhere, we had climbed a boulder filled mess. We took a break, bathed our feet in the instantly numbing water, and drank some of the mineral-rich water.

Considering our situation, we realized we could see what the girl was pointing about. Along the edge of the ridge ran canals which formed the backbone of the paths to the farm and grazing spots. While we were a tortuous hour away, we strolled back down along the old local paths.

Crossing to this ridge, we came to fields where we were warmly greeted by Karim Ali Bahadur, a university student. He was on break from school, helping his uncle plow his high fields.

They finished up the field, and we relaxed for a tea break. It was a very classic Pakistani moment, having tea with a rural high mountain farmer, a Pakistani in a flannel and jeans, and discussing movies and music.

We enjoyed some afternoon sun with them, and then made our miles heading down the mountain.

Karim Ali Bahadur

 

Here is a young boy, out in the fields with his father for the day. He just smiled and watched us climb up and past his fields. His father shouted that it was ok to take a photo, and we gladly did. Everywhere cute children checked us out, all with warm welcoming smiles.

After Gulmit, we proceeded further north, to Pasu.

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KKH-Ascent | KKH-Kohistan | Gilgit | Hunza-Main | Hunza-Altit | Hunza-Duikar | Gojal-Gulmit | Gojal-Pasu
All Material Copyright Mark Felten 1999 - All rights reserved.