On this day, we begin our hike to Gangabal Lake by crossing a stream, which is followed by a boulder section of the trail. This is difficult because they are enormous and there is no proper trail. Then it’s an uphill climb until we reach the pass, where we get a breathtaking view of Mt Harmukh, the Gangabal lake, and How to Nundkol lake. This is a twin lake that appears stunning from this vantage point. The hike from here is all downhill, crossing a stream and camping next to Gangabal Lake.
How to reach Gangabal Lake?
How to reach Mt Harmukh – Arrive at Naranag’s ancient but pillaged temple ruins complex. The hike begins near the temple complex and continues through the pine forest. At the upper end of the forest, there is only one shop where you can get snacks but not a full meal. This is followed by the government guest house area, and then a kilometer or two of walking on meadows until you reach Gangbal Lake. This is a fantastic weekend getaway.
However, this is only one of the stunning lakes on the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. The other option is to take the KGL Trek trail, which begins in Naranag and takes 5 days to complete. More information can be found here:
Crossing the stream and boulders
The sixth day of our trek begins with a crossing of an icy-cold stream right next to the Satsar campsite. The view from the Satsar campsite is simply breathtaking. Soon after crossing the stream, the gradual ascent begins, which is littered with massive boulders. It’s best not to use your poles here because they’re useless. Crossing these boulders must be done with caution because one wrong step can be fatal.
Continue trekking across these boulders for another 1.5 to 2 kilometers, after which there is a steep ascent but it is very manageable due to the hike being on meadows. Remember to turn around. After many days of trekking in the mountains with almost no trees, you will arrive at a mountain range densely forested with pine trees. On the mountain slopes, you’ll even come across a few shepherds’ or Gujjar’s huts. Continue walking until you reach the 13,400-foot pass.
The strikingly impressive view from the pass
This is the most beautiful view of the entire trek once you reach the peak. The Gangabal and Nundkol lakes appear to be twins. To be honest, it was well worth the effort. “Wow,” I overheard many of them say. The scenery is absolutely stunning. The Gangabal and Nundkol lakes appear to be playing hide and seek in the cloud.
The twin lake
Gangabal Lake is much larger than Nundkol Lake. The stream of water can be seen flowing down from one lake to the other. Spend some time here to get some good landscape shots and to appreciate nature’s beauty. The view from this vantage point is so stunning that you will forget about your tiredness or illness of any kind. A few of my friends have even expressed a desire to spend their retirement years here.
The steep descent
The steep descent from this 13400-foot peak all the way down to 12000 feet. Be cautious as you descend further because the descent is steep and will last for at least an hour. There is a stream to cross once you reach the bottom. Once you’ve crossed the stream, take a seat and look back at the steep descent. The mountain slope appears to be significantly steeper than the Gadsar pass. Continue your trek through the meadows, gradually ascending and descending until you reach another stream. This is our campsite for the day.
Where to camp – Gangabal lake campsite?
Many people visit Gangabal Lake on weekends because it is close to Naranag, which is our final destination and a one-day trek away from Gangabal Lake. You can camp near Gangabal Lake or cross the stream over a wooden log bridge and camp near the stream or Nundkol Lake. The landscape of this twin lake is beautiful from afar, but once you get to the lake, human activities and camping remnants are common. On the next day, the hike is from Gangabal to Naranag.
Exploring Mt Harmukh Peak base
Nundkol lake, located at the base of Harmukh peak, is only a few minutes of walk from Gangabal lake. Harmukh has a massive snow patch that appears to be a glacier from a distance. If you arrive at this campsite early, you can spend time walking around the two lakes, which is also a great location for some amazing photos. You could try some timelapse shots, and this is the last place to get some great long exposure night shots because it is the last place where there is no light pollution.
YouTube video – Trek from Satsar to Gangabal lake
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