Continuing Up A “Non-Trail” Through The Mountains of Hunza, Pakistan
A new morning…new day…followed by a so-so breakfast which included exploding eggs. Yes, exploding eggs! ex-Marine went to toss Sue a hard-boiled egg at the other end of the table and it exploded mid-air. I supposed we shouldn’t have been surprised but this was a first for one and all. In the daylight, I looked around me at all the rocks, steep terrain, a huge avalanche chute directly in front of us. Naively I laughed…”We’re not going up there are we, Aslam?” “Yes, we are.” Struck dumb, I just looked at Steve in terror.
Camp struck, the porters led the way, once again hauling us up the avalanche chute by arms when the boulders were too big to climb up on by ourselves. Every now and then a dislodged rock would crash down by us. All you could hear was – heavy breathing….”I need help”…”watch out…rocks coming down“…and every now and then, Irene and/or Len would puke behind a rock from the altitude. More fun.
And then there were all porters…bless their hearts…carrying everything on their backs…and trying so hard to make our lives easier…
One of the funniest questions ever posed to me when hearing about trips like this was…”But Sheila, couldn’t you just leave?” Duh…no….
Once on top of the avalanche chute, the terrain became more manageable but it was beastly hot. We were at over 3,400m/11,000′ by this time and it had to be at least 100+ degrees. Years later we discovered that this was one of Pakistan and India’s hottest summers ever and we were dying. There would only be one way to finish this trek without one of us suffering heat stroke. Nigel and Aslam decided to start our hiking at 4:00 am to finish by 10:00 or 11:00 am before the temperature rose to a mere 120 degrees. It was already quite light by 4:00 am so no one had a problem with this.
Arriving at the next camp site in the heat of the day, it was impossible to sit in your tent without roasting to a crispy finish. There were no trees or shade anywhere around. The only solution? Start walking around the site looking for a rock to sit or crawl under until it cooled off a bit. “And, how did you spend your summer vacation, Sheila?” “Oh…I survived on candy…and spent the days sitting under a rock.” And…how hot was it? When Sue crawled into her tent one afternoon to get a new roll of film, the canister EXPLODED! Nothing you will read in this series on Pakistan is an exaggeration…hard to comprehend perhaps…but not exaggerated…the truth only, so help me God!
By this time, if we weren’t struggling to breathe, dealing with altitude sickness and the small food portions, everyone was laughing uproariously or slaphappy from the heat. How much funnier could this possibly become? A brief photo with the group showing what they thought of this trek so far. (Notice ex-Marine’s hands?) And Len showed his opinion by mooning the group, not a pretty sight…