Since I started travelling, you have been on my mind. I always used to imagine what it would be like looking at you so closely. You were always much occupied with your foreign visitors, but I wanted to see you personally. Living at sea-level, you can probably understand how far I was, but you were always in my heart.
Life is unpredictable, you never know what comes next. Routine in cities is quite hectic; especially as a housewife, taking care of kids, husband and household. It drained me. But your thought felt like a cool breeze.
Planning and prepping for the trek was my favourite task for six months. The excitement to meet you refreshed my soul, no matter how tired I was.
The trek is long and exhausting but I thought I should ask other female trekkers, who share the same passion and love, to join me on this heavenly journey. We came together as a lovely team of 12 strong women.
When we started our journey from Lahore to Skardu as a team, my heart was filled with overwhelming gratitude. While the team was enjoying the views of Kaghan and the mighty Nanga Parbat from the window of the airplane, I was lost in your thoughts, counting the days, hours and minutes. Right after landing, we found ourselves in the lap of mountains. Stepping down from the staircase to the airport in Skardu, I felt a cold whisper in my ear, welcoming me in the land of giant mountains. I knew it was you.
I don’t know why people call you the ‘savage mountain’. I was fortunate that you came in my dream to remind me that we were destined to meet. When we travelled to Jhola campsite on a jeep, I was reliving my memories of ‘K2 Kahani’ by Mustansar Hussain Tarar, which I had read multiple times to memorise the details.
First day of trek was tough on me, the vastness of Braldu River showing its true colours of wilderness. The thought of returning to my land of seas came to my mind but how could I break my promise, I had to fulfil my commitment. It was certainly a test of my patience.
The coming days were a bit sad and depressing for me. A few members got sick and wanted to quit the journey. Although it was very hard to say goodbye, life went on like the waters of Baltoro.
Urdukus is the place to live with the panoramic view of the Trango Towers and Baltoro Glacier in its glory and the grassy green campsite. According to our itinerary, we took a rest day there which was worth every second of our time. We did laundry, hair wash and a much-needed photography session.
When we stepped on the Baltoro Glacier, all the peaks surrounded us as our guards. Gasherbrum was the front, Broad Peak on the slight left, Mashabrum on the right and Muztagh Tower behind us. The pyramid shape of Gasherbrum 4 seemingly looked like you, but we still had a long way to get to you. I knew you we wouldn’t see you until our last day, but I was hoping for a miracle to happen. Our guide told us that we could call at our homes because at this point, we could only get signals through Concordia. I started seeing you in my imagination and sensed your fragrance in this thin air. I could feel the chills of the snow piled up on you since ages. While I was lost in this imagination, I completely forgot to call my home.
This was the most enriching day of our trek as the scenic beauty was at its peak. The excitement rose as the wait was almost over. We stayed in Goro 2, which was a few hours away from you. I knew you must be waiting for me. It was a cold and snowy night, apparently Mother Nature was furious. It snowed heavily for the entire day during our trek to Concordia. Mist and clouds wrapped the whole mountain range around us. I was close, yet so far. The snowfall prevented me from going out and seeing you through the clouds. But I could feel your presence. The wait was unbearable, but my body was too tired to go out of my tent. I silently requested you to lift your veil for me in the morning because I wanted to see you. I travelled from sea-level to the foot of the second highest mountain in the world. I did not want to return hopeless after spending so much time, money and effort.
You heard me! I knew it. I was in your kingdom and you accepted my request. This was the power of my unconditional love for you. When I came out of my tent, the most prominent peak looming over me was Mitre Peak, it was located completely opposite to you. Broad Peak and Gasherbrum were partially visible. Then came the king of mountains, Chhogori (Balti) or Mount Godwin Austin, 8611 metres high, right in front of me. The upper pyramid shape was clear, some curves were hidden in the clouds. I knew the weather around you was highly unpredictable, but I could not wait for the clouds to move away from you.
After taking some pictures with you I sat on a rock. I really hope you remember that I told you about all the struggles I faced: my knee injury, my toe pain and all those breathless moments. I told you that I wanted to be strong and firm like you, the way you chose people and let them come near you. The way you stand tall with your altitude and savage personality. I learnt a lot from you. I appreciate the way you patiently listened and taught me everything. The contentment in my life after talking to you was much needed and I could not thank you enough for that. I always believed… mountains heal. I saw snowflakes in the air, the sign of bad weather. With that, it was time to say goodbye. It’s always hard to say goodbye to your beloved. I wish we meet again someday, soon.