July 5th (Saturday) – Shimshal Pamir

Mobile health clinic conducted by Dr Bill Hanlon, Basic Health International, for shepherds based at 4700 m Shimshal Pass  (known locally as Shimshal Pamir) reached from Shimshal village, Hunza Valley, Karakoram Range, PakistanWe awoke to some fresh snow and cooler temperatures. We started out a little later than originally planned (7.15am) because of the conditions. We started up a very muddy, steep incline in fresh snow. Our single poles came in handy to get some traction along the steeper muddy trail.

Fortunately the snow stopped about 90 minutes into our travel. Shortly after this the clouds lifted and we were gifted with warm sunshine and no wind. It gave us the opportunity to dry out some of our gear and improved the trail conditions.

We continued the long hike along the banks of an extensive river drainage.

Further up the drainage, we met Susan, an OT from Calgary with a guide and porters. They had come down from Shimshal Pass after a few days of trekking. She had been bicycling with her friend Liam from Calgary and had taken a little time to visit Shimshal Pass. We stopped and had a tea break and nice visit in the warm sunshine. We continued along the river drainage, with a gradual ascent through a yak pasture, crossed a small bridge and had a chai break at a larger shepherd settlement. It was a beautiful setting, close to the river with great views down valley. We then started the ascent to a small pass above the huts and valley. At the top of the pass we marvelled at the great views down valley and the open meadow towards the Pamir pasture.

After a short break, we continued the long walk across the grassy meadow towards Shimshal Pamir. We watched many yaks happily grazing on both sides of us. The lush green of the Pamir meadow was in stark contrast to the arid rocky slopes of the approach. On our way we met a shepherd friend of Zulfi as he herded the yaks back to the shepherd settlement. A little later we got some more snow and the temperature dropped. The conditions confirmed we were close to 4700m at this point.

We passed 2 beautiful lakes to our left and continued along a muddy, yak trodden path towards a small

Zarat leading to the summer pasture settlement of the Shimshal community at 4700m. It is an idyllic setting with a wide open meadow, lakes and high snow-capped surrounding peaks. It is located very close to the China border.

We were greeted enthusiastically by Ashraf’s mother, Tai Bibi outside her stone pasture home. She prepared a lovely meal of yak cheese, chapatti and chai for us. We appreciated very much her giving up some of her valuable time away from her animals. Her great hospitality during our stay was very much appreciated.

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