Trekking from Gangbal to Naranag is a totally different kind of experience that I had. It was through the meadows followed by the long steep descent through the Naranag Pine forest. A rainy day and the visibility was poor, hardly 10 meters in some of the places. The distance between Gangbal to Naranag is about 11 to 12 kms and you will be trekking from an altitude of 11,600 which drops to 7,500 feet. It’s all the way down and there is no climb on this last day of Kashmir Great Lakes trek. Gangbal is the last lake. So, once you have enjoyed enough at Gangbal twin lake it’s time to pack you bag and start with Day 7 of your trekking.
If you have not gone through the previous 6 days of Kashmir Great Lakes trekking posts then don’t forget to go through these link:
Crossing the little stream near Gangbal camp site is the start of the day 7 trekking. Followed by this is a small gradual ascent and a long flat walk in the meadows. To the left is the deep valley and a stream and to the right is something that looks like a river of boulders. The visibility can be poor on a rainy day. Continue to walk till you reach the govt guest house. This is place after 7 days of trekking where you will find some human activities. Soon after the guest house is where the pine forest starts and you will find the man made trail which is to be followed all the way till Naranag. The trail is not continuous and there are mud trails which can be very difficult to walk when it rains. It rained on day 7 and the entire trail was full of mud. Most of them had their cameras inside and no one had the patience to bring their camera out on the last day, that too after trekking for 7 days.
There were small streams down the trail which were good enough to fill our water bottles. At one point there was a Maggie noddles shop. Our entire trekking group just rushed into this small shop/hut. It was raining outside and was cold. But, we were lucky to get some buns, hot Maggie noodles and some tea. Maggie point is where you get the first telephone signal and I called up home to say that everything was fine. After taking rest for a while, we continued to trek down hill. The scenery was just too good. Our local guide told us that there was forest fire few months back and we were at the right time to see all those half burnt trees and the greenery around. The burnt trees had young fresh green shoots as it had rained for few days now.
Gangbal is a famous trekking spot and is known for a weekend trek from Naranag. As you go down hill you will find many trekkers climbing up who are on their way to Gangbal for a weekend. There are few view points on the way down (not man made). The view from this place is too good like the one above – view from Naranag Forest. In the forest and above, you will find some wild bright yellow colored flowers. Trekking on a rainy day might be difficult here in this trail as it will turn out to be too slippery and muddy. Better to keep your camera in your backpack unless you are a like me. The zig zag trail goes all the way down and as you walk further down you will hear the water flow from the stream/river far below. At the final stretch is the man made trail and you will find the Naranag village which is the base camp for trekkers climbing Mount Haramukh/Gangbal. Most of them are dead tired once they reach this place after 7 days of trekking. But, don’t forget to visit the remains of a 8th century Shiva temple which is just 50 meters away from the final point. This temple is a famous tourist spot and is one of the important archaeological sites of India. There are taxis available from this place and is about 4 hours from Srinagar airport. Checkout this video as well and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel and to follow me on social media for latest updates.
— Ravindra Joisa (@ravindrajoisa) May 29, 2014