The Tiny Trekker on the Way

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August 26th 2014
Published: August 26th 2014
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The Tiny Trekker on the Way

Dunga Gali-Mukshpuri Trek


Text & Photographs by: Muhammad Kashif Ali aka Kashifthegipsy

Feeman Ali, the tiny trekker (of four and half years only), selected the Dunga Gali-Mukshpuri Track with the help of his Baba Jani, in September, 2009 for his debut trek in any mountain range. It was the month of Ramadan (1430 AH), when he set off for Galliyat Tract of NWFP, now Khyber Pukhtoonkhawa.

He stayed with me (his Baba Jani, Muhammad Kashif Ali), and one of my friends, Saim Mughal in Snow Land Hotel, Dunga Gali. Dunga Gali is almost four kilometers away from Nathia Gali, and around 30 kilometers from Murree on Murree-Abbotabad road. Dunga Gali is around 8000 feet above sea-level and is engulfed by some of the finest pine forests. It is a part ofAyubiaNational Parkwhich has the total area of 8184 acres (3312 hectors). It is an area of the densest jungles ofPakistan.

Feeman Ali left his bed early in the morning at the time of Sehri on 5th September, 2009. But after taking the Sehri, we accepted another offer of the goddess of sleep and went to bed again. Finally we arranged our track rucksack, camp, sticks and waterproof uppers, each for one because Galliyat Tract falls in the monsoon belt and the monsoon season had not yet ended.

The tiny trekker, Feeman Ali started his debut full length trek at 10:00 AM sharp. It was slightly cloudy and birds were chirping in the vast blue skies over the Galliyat Tract. I realized that there was a little chill in the air when I kissed the forehead of Feeman Ali; his forehead was very cold.

The carpeted road we had started on disappeared after about 500 meters and we were walking on a jungle track, only 4 to 5 feet wide, but the width shrank as we moved ahead. On some places it was just 2 feet wide.

Feeman Ali, very happy and excited, started asking a volley of questions from Saim and me. Along the way, he was collecting feathers, leaves, flowers and cones from the mighty pine trees. The track was slightly treacherous as there were needle-like leaves of pine trees. Those leaves appeared to be the custodians of Mukshpuri Top as they did not allow us to touch the Holy Mukshpuri Top, so they were trying to push us downward, but the tiny trekker was determined to touch the top. Climbing with his small sized walking stick, he was leading us. He was staring deep in the gorges on his right and was frightened of these new experiences in his life.

After one hour of trekking, we saw the face of Feeman Ali, but there were no signs of fatigue yet. However, considering that it was his first full-length trek, we decided to have a short stay. We erected a canopy (manmade) off the path under the pine trees and put off our bags. A bag was opened and chocolate, juices, dates etc., were brought out for the tiny trekker. Both of us were fasting (roza) in the jungle during trekking.

It was a short stay of some 15 minutes and the tiny trekker was again on the way, taking our test about botany and zoology. He was working as a ‘mini zoologist’ as he discovered three types of snails: brown snail with shell, brown snail without shell and black snail without shell but brown spots on its back. He pinched the snails with sticks and said, “O Baba Jani! Please, listen the sounds of the snail”. He neither disturbed the snails nor tried to kill them. He also noticed a snail having its ‘lunch’ of a semi-dry leaf, and more questions about the food of snails followed.

Butterflies were another subject of our ‘mini zoologist’ who took interest in different colors of those beautiful creatures. He tried to chase them but we had to pull him back, reminding him that he was in the mountains with deep gorges, not inLawrenceGarden. He was deeply fascinated at seeing them in such large numbers. Unfortunately, we could not take a snapshot of any butterfly in ‘cat-fly’ pose to paste in this travel report.

He asked the names of different flowers again and again, but we could not tell him many names except only daisy; white daisy. But Feeman was considering it sunflower. It was hard to tell him that it was not a sunflower but a daisy because he was arguing, “It’s a sunflower but it is small in size.”

Now it was clear and day was very shiny. Birds were playing hide and seek in pine jungle, we were enjoying the chirpy music. Trees were wavering and air was kissing us and trees too. Now hands of Feeman were jam-packed with needle leaves, feathers, flowers and walking stick. And he was beating the path, gaining the height with each step. Going above so high ‘across the skies’, I think was the motto of tiny trekker.

On the way Feeman suddenly came across the Love; really I am talking about the Love and this Love was personified, carved on the track. The carving was handled so skillfully. Feeman Ali sat down close to ‘Love’ and tried to fill it with stones, leaves and loam but Saim ran as savior, “Never destroy love; the reason of the creation of this universe, we will preserve it for other trekkers” Saim screamed, and he climbed on nearby edges and collected some sharp pink flowers while Feeman plucked white daisies from the brim of the track. After this I transformed the Carved Love into Floral Love.

In fact this track was like an encyclopedia; the jungle encyclopedia. We have climbed 2/3 of our target and then Feeman again sat down near the rim of the gorge to explore something new and this time we felt easy and relaxed because we could answer the expected question from the tinny trekker. Mushrooms were the new subject of Feeman; he was excited to see so many mushrooms in bulk and was plucking them. But we tried to convince him that all the mushrooms are not edible but some are toxic. It was very first contact of tiny trekker with mushrooms. We are not expert of mushrooms so I made a call immediately, University of thePunjabto my friend Muhammad Hanif; a PhD scholar and researching on DNA’s of mushrooms. He told us about some kinds of mushrooms, on spot.

The tiny trekker, somehow, got tired now and we were very near to our destination, just 15-20 mints away from the top. But it was the time for short stay again. We were ‘seeing’ only and Feeman was eating chocolates and drinking juice. During the day I really observed that the kids really have marvelous stamina that is only due to determination. Although Feeman got tired but he was not going to cut his enjoyment, and now he was seated on a rock, in ridding style, and was beating it with a stick saying, “Chal Mery Ghoray Chal Chal Chal” in English, ‘Run fast my horse’, and his horse took him to top; the Mushkpuri top. The top has its own eco-system; lush green pine meadow, small rainy lakes, flowers of different types and green carpet of grasses. This top gives you chance to peep into theHimalaya, you are just surrounded by mighty mountains; some of them are covered with pine forests and most of them (far away in northern and eastern direction) are snow-capped. You feel that you are ‘so high’ and can touch the clouds, wavering over your heads. Believe me you feel yourself in clouds, you fall in love.

Now my tiny trekker was helping us to erect the camp on the top, he was very excited in real sense because it was his first camp on hilly areas before it we had camped twice on our roof in winter of 2009. When we were chatting inside the camp (on roof), Feeman said, while he was in my arms, “Baba Jani! Next time I will go with you on mountains.” It was a smiley request and how could I refuse it. Babies are the finest facet of the universe and the most blessed gift of ALLAH almighty, and sometimes it is hard to reject their wish.

Now he was arranging his first camping, it was time of transformation; dream to reality. It was shiny weather and Feeman both. Saim was offering Zuhar prayer on green natural prayer-mat and I was chasing tiny trekker because he was chasing happiness. He was restless and jumping, collecting feather & flowers and trying to catch a butterfly.

Meanwhile, when Feeman was chasing his bulky happiness, a team of the British tourists reached on the top, the team was working inPeshawarunder the umbrella of British Red Cross and they planned for visitAyubiaNational Parkin their off days. They people were very astonished, when they came to know that Feeman submitted the top by foot. They offer him chocolate and apple; we observed him eating and got jealous.

I was feeling tired and was in mode of taking rest but Tiny Trekker was restless and pushed me to accompany him at top, he was in mode of modeling and stood near a cow saying, “shot Baba Jani” and I just followed his orders.

I took rest inside our camp as it was very sunny now, I also offered rest to Feeman Ali but he denied and went to explore whole the pasture with Saim. We stayed at the top for three hours and observed the colors of weather ofHimalaya; sunny, partially sunny, cloudy and partially cloudy. We took many pictures of formations of clouds. I always seek cloud’s formations at hill stations.

The sun was slant, when we decided for down track and we rolled it back our camp; Feeman carried the camp, ‘don’t worry its weight was only two kg.’ The down-stream trekking is always panic for me but not for all trekkers. Saim and Feeman were comfortable with down-trekking. I love and feel comfortable with climbing because I feel that the mountain pushes the trekker on the down-track (when he climbs down) and a trekker has to control and reduce his speed and for this task he has to bear some extra pressure on ankles and knees. So, I always feel extra fatigue on climb down.

Feeman Ali was quite easy at climbing down. But after sometime he said, “Baba Jani! I am exhausted now” and I said, “You are brave, you reached at top. Never say that you are exhausted, you can do it.”

And then he really did not express his fatigue in words but we could see it on his face and by his gait. His pace was very slow and imbalanced but there was no word of complain on Feeman’s lips. When were about to reach at hotel, I said, “My son! You are brave, really very brave. You are not exhausted.”

“No! I am exhausted but you said not express it again”, complained the Tiny Trekker.

I argued, “Okay Okay! You might drain a little.”

“No”, he shouted, “I am tired at large extent and even feeling pain in my legs”.

I had nothing to say, just picked him up into my arms, kissed him deep and entered into Hotel.

Tiny Trekker on Mushkpuri Top

Tiny Trekker with his Camp

Tiny Trekker on the Track

Lake at Mushkpuri Top


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