We were not expecting many visitors at Besal. It was anticipated that due to the unfavourable security conditions there will be a little interaction with other tourists. But when our jeep stopped at the only inn in Besal, we saw several groups of youngsters and two jeeps standing outside. We impatiently jumped out and entered the inn. This four-hours scrambling over the stony and muddy jeep trek in addition to frequent water crossings was a strenuous adventure.
This road side inn with simple woodwork was a typical Kaghan valley staying point. The climate was pleasant infect slightly cooler, so we wore light jackets. All three of us fell on the traditional flat platform built for rest and dine. It was Bashir, the jeep driver who asked the waiter to serve some food. A lunch of Red Beans and hot Chapatis was served in a little while. Subsequently, the hot tea enabled us to realize why actually we are here.
We headed up to the Besal with a mindset to excurse for 3800 meters high Dudipat Sar. ‘Sar’ is a local word used for water specifically for a lake.
The next morning, we started at 10:30. It was a lovely day with fresh air and clear sky. Herds of goats, sheep and horses were grazing on the grassy slopes of hills as far as the eye could see. In a very short time we reached at the bank of Kunhar River where the only way getting across was a Jhoola Bridge. A simple iron basket was hanged with a pulley, moving over iron rope across the river. This was an exclusive river crossing we ever had. A wild river with huge blare below and you are flying over hanging with a rope – unforgettable!
After thirty minutes of moderate walking, we were at the left edge of PurbiNarRiver. The river was flowing in a narrow gorge with steep rocky walls on both sides. This time there was no bridge or Jhoola to cross and we had to walk through this icy water. The next fifteen minutes were a struggle of how to maintain balance on sharp and slippery stones under a fast flowing river. In addition to the rucksacks at our backs, we were also keeping our shoes in hands.
Once we crossed the river, a steep trail on the right wall of this narrow gorge was going towards the sky. One and half hours of vertical walking took us to a levelled bowl encircled with the green hills. A cottage of local Gujars watching over uncountable sheep was installed amid. The surroundings were getting richer and on our left a lovely stream was flowing hundreds of feet downhill into the Prubi Nar River.
After two hours of taxing ups and downs, we explored a miles of wide grassy plain with a lovely river flowing in the middle. We saw some secluded snow covered green mountains guarding this broad and long valley. Perhaps the Dudipat Lake would be on the feet of these mountains. But it was still a long way to go.
It was getting harder and longer than we anticipated. A long steep climb caused us to feel weary and hungry now. We skipped carrying weight of food as we thought it would be two to three hours trek. Now we had to reach Mulla Ki Basti, where we could find some food and rest, but so far there was no sign of any tourist settlement in any direction.
It was the time when weather suddenly changed. Wind started blowing and dark clouds covered the sky in no time. It was the signal of a heavy rainstorm. As we looked in every direction for a shelter, rain started. The air was pushing backward in reply to any advancement we tried. I ran towards a large boulder for a cover. While I could reach the boulder, I was all wet. The other team members were disappeared. They must have found other shelters to protect themselves from this unfortunate situation. After half an hour, the weather got stabled but it was still drizzling. I came out of the boulder but the cool weather and over tiredness made it difficult to progress now. We were getting slower and slower on every step.
After crossing the river from a temporary wooden bridge, we saw some blue and grey camps approximately two kilometers away. By applying the last calories of remaining energy, finally we entered a small tarpaulin covered cottage. It was a canteen sort of arrangement to provide tourist food and tea. Jan Muhammad, the owner of the canteen prepared Chapatis and Daal. As it was the evening, we immediately installed the camp and entered into cozy sleeping bags.
When I waked up, it was still a sound of rain drops falling on the camp. I exited from the sleeping bag, opened the zip of the camp and came out. The weather was still hazy but magnificent 360° views opened up my eyes. Smokey clouds covered the snow-top mountains and miles of wide lush green grassy plains were offering the best ever morning views.
After the breakfast, we picked our way towards Dudipat. It was an easy walk on soft grassy path with sweet whistles of golden marmots and colorful birds. It took about an hour to reach under a mound restricting eyes to see the scenery beyond. We almost raced up. It was an unbelievable splendor from the top of the mound! It was certainly the most beautiful mere I ever seen. The tops of green mountains with white snow patches were still hidden beyond the smoky clouds. It was an incredible combination of white and green. There was a reflection of white clouds and snow in the Dudipat, and the green slopes were merging in the vivid water.
I imagined the grandeur of this heavenly land in a brighter day with a blue sky. I deeply felt that a better plan and preparation could make it possible to find the best view. With short term plans and no supplies we couldn’t face storms. And now, we had to go back with a lesson – to find a destination at its best, get prepared for dark clouds!