Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, an unfulfilled Odyssey

This post is about Kasmir Great Lakes  Trek (KGL) which has remained unfulfilled till date. Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, an unfulfilled odyssey cannot be called as a failure because there were some takeaways from this abortive attempt, yes the trek did not culminate by reaching the destination envisaged, but then there was something tangible which was salvaged.

Trek stories; there are few which culminate at the destination envisaged and then there are some which are aborted midway with goals changed or altered.  

For long, I wanted to write this particular post. As I completed the first trek of this year, I felt that it was an apt moment to revisit and reminiscise about the one which remains elusive. Trekking was a hobby which has transformed into a dedicated passion recently in the past.

To know why do i Trek , read my thoughts here

I realised that, along with photography and road trips, trekking has emerged as an outlet for my soul to feel satiated. I have never been a professional trekker neither I have the technical acumen/knowledge; however, I am a serious trekker and take each trek seriously.

If you are a passionate photographer and trekking is a hobby , read about gears on a trek out here

In 2017, I came across visuals about the  Kashmir Great Lakes, for almost a year I kept seeing visuals of this trek and finally in the year 2018  embarked on this trek.

My first impression on Kashmir is portrayed in this post.

2018 was a hectic year on the professional front with hardly any time for personal physical fitness upkeep. I still remember I was on a professional work-related course until just two weeks before the trek.

Come D day, and I landed in Srinagar to commence Kashmir Great Lakes trek in August. The initial days of the trek were fine as the trek is not a difficult graded trek. Do see some of the visuals in this post here , click Here.

The injury ….

However, on the fourth day into the trek, I suffered a rather random tear in my Right knee ACL ligament ( this is one of the four ligaments which ensure that the knee stays articulated and geometrically aligned with the movement of the leg.

The injury was so random that I did not understand how and what exactly happened. One moment I was fine and the next moment I was writhing in pain.

By next morning the knee was swollen grotesquely, this was on account of the blood accumulation, mixed with the synovial fluid. This break in the ACL made the knee unstable.

I lay in my tent two more days at the same campsite in the hope that this will subside, finally I had to cut short my trek and return to Sonmarg on horseback. Thus Kashmir Great Lakes Trek transformed into an unfulfilled Odyssey on a personal front.

The Aftermath ….

The ensuing months were painful as I struggled to cope with the aftermath of a knee injury, which resulted finally in me having to undergo major knee surgery to sort the injury clinically.

This was followed by months of physiotherapy, which happened alongside my professional work schedule, that was turning to be even more hectic than 2018.

I was plagued by bouts of listlessness, irritation and anger at myself for having let this happen to me. Knee injuries take a long time to heal. At this stage, I remember the words of encouragement and patient hearing of my rants by the one who was close. It made me realise that some individuals do matter when the time comes.

To cut a long story short, I eventually recovered to a large extent; however, the knee still pains and running is something that I no more indulge in. The physiotherapy paid off, and I was able to perform normal day to day activities. I decided to take up cycling as an alternative to running.

In all the months that followed the injury, I still remember that I was never critical about my decision to take up trekking as a hobby. In all those intervening times when I was bedridden, I did suffer from extended moments of withdrawal and sullenness but the joy that trekking used to get me was never sullied or soiled by these bouts of negativity.

I firmly believed that I should have been more prepared for the trek, and that was the primary reason to be in the state in which I found myself in.

Going forward ….

Forward to 2019, and I was eager to pick up from where I left in the previous year and against popular opinion decided to revisit Kashmir Great Lakes Trek in July where it all stopped a year back. Once again everything remained the same, and I was a bit apprehensive as to how would it pan out.

The knees and overall physical strain was generally acceptable, and was able to complete 30% of the trek. The apprehension within as to how the knee would behave when under strain was important to quell once and for all. However, this time, the physical elements of the weather were against me. The unfulfilled odyssey of the Great Lakes Trek continued to haunt me.

The snowed out conditions on the Trek were of such magnitude that the horses which were carrying the load could not proceed ahead and eventually we had to abort the trek for the second consecutive time.

The Takeaways….

The take away from two aborted attempts made me realise that perseverance is the key to a lot of such activities and notwithstanding the two attempts KGL remains very much in my bucket list, and I will revisit the valleys of Kishansar once again shortly. Till such time i will keep this unfulfilled odyssey of the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek close to my heart.

Trekking remains my pure love, and I still hold on to it for the days ahead. So what did I learn over 24 months and two attempts

Physical preparation is essential
Analysing weather conditions using online tools is essential.
Exhaustive discussion with guide before trek commencement to discuss all possibilities.
Commitment of the trek team is of paramount importance.
Medical support in case something goes wrong is so important.
Apt gear in terms of shoes and clothing is beneficial.
HOPE is what has to be by one’s side at all times even if all the cards are down
Keep negativity at Bay and think on what moves you the most. Start planning once again. This helps to get a GOAL

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