The last day of the Greater Lakes Trek was the most difficult. I started at Tosamaidan and the trek ended at Yousmarg. I walked a lot, battled altitude sickness, and experienced complete exhaustion. The weather gods were against us and it rained nearly every day. It was cold and foggy and at times, we could not even see the hands in front of our faces. After a day or two of trekking in the rain, our clothes no longer dried and our shoes were heavy, wet nasty muddy messes. We crossed icy rivers; climbed non-stop over the quintessential stony moraines of Kashmir, and walked through ankle-deep mud. On the second last day, we hired horses and I rode non-stop for 8 hours each day.  Somehow, it’s always the last stretch which seems to be endless, and reaching Dhiksal Meadow from Chanze Meadow via Ashtar Valley was like torture. First of all, it rained non-stop and we were wet, tired, and nearly blue from the cold. A local Bakarwal family sheltered us and we were glad to take a break from our exhausting journey.

Making a move towards Mazekhanen in the torrential rain

The last day of the Greater Lakes Trek in Kashmir

The previous night at the hospitable Bakarwal’s hut was cramped. We shared a small square piece of dry ground with nearly 8 people and many goats and woke up with goat pellets scattered on our blankets. The hostess’s spicy lamb curry made my tummy run and it was not a comfortable situation to be. It continued raining nonstop and Kashmir’s glorious meadows became swampy. Streams and rivulets became raging rivers and crossing them was difficult. The paths became slippery and once I fell so hard that I saw stars in the daytime. On our way, we passed broken bridges, fluorescent mushrooms, and swollen bodies of dead sheep. Stories of men being swept away due to broken bridges were rife and I was scared for the first time when crossing the raging Doodhganga river. Today, I cannot remember how long I rode in the rain that day but we crossed Mazekhanen Meadow, Frasnag

meadow, and lots of dark, brooding forests. Sometime during the early afternoon, the rolling meadows of Yousmarg appeared and you can imagine the relief and pangs of sadness we all felt. Yes, there were moments when I cried, “I want to go home”, but it was difficult to say goodbye to this amazing experience. Would I do this again? – Yes, at the drop of a hat.

Heading over to Ashtar Valley; I rode for more than 8 hours that day

Javed and me

Shuib and me

The flower-filled Ashtar Valley


Chanze Meadow

Overnight at a Bakarwal´s hut at Diskhal

Chanze Meadow

Heading over to Ashtar Valley; I rode for more than 8 hours that day

One of the rare sunny days

A rare sunset

Our Bakarwal hosts at Dhiskal Valley



Yousmarg, the last destination of the Greater Lakes Trek in Kashmir