IJC Summer Camp 2016, Rama, Minimerg, Domail, Deosai, Skardu, Shigar August 26-30th! - JeepForum.com
 
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post #1 of 3 Old 09-12-2016, 04:14 AM Thread Starter
aamir567
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IJC Summer Camp 2016, Rama, Minimerg, Domail, Deosai, Skardu, Shigar August 26-30th!

Trip report by NN.................

IJC summer camps have always been very popular among IJCians n friends. This time it was no different. Having done two trips earlier in the summer, made no difference to the enthusiasm of all. The dates were planned so that Nomi1234 could also join us from US. As usual various destinations were discussed n eventually all agreed that this time it had to be Minimerg! People who have visited there know, it requires permission to visit the area, and for a while the permission was touch n go. But eventually it was all sorted and for that we were all thankful to Rehan n his brother.

We were 32 in all on 10 rides! The trip began at mid night between Thursday n Friday. Night travel may have many disadvantages, but avoiding traffic while travelling in big convoy is its biggest advantage. Our progress was varying between steady and fairly brisk during the night. First stop was Balakot for fuel top-up. Than next was early breakfast at Naran. After which it was back on the road. During day time progress was steady as people were stopping / slowing down for capturing pics of the amazing beauty of the region!

I was travelling this time with Zohaib on his Vigo. It was just the two of us in the ride, so I had seat reclined back n just chilling, capturing snaps. The Vigo ride with ARB upgraded suspension was very comfy indeed. We had enough luggages at back of ourselves as well as food stuff of others for the trip, so there was no bounciness from rear either!

The travel with our ongoing chit chat on radios is always great fun! We continued thru Babuser top, and with steady progress it was decided that we will make it to Astore/Rama, in one go! Some of us stopped in Astore for quick lunch. While we tried to go directly to Rama PTDC, but got stuck in a post Juma Prayer Jalsa. The road was blocked, so we just waited it out for over n hour! By the time we reached Rama, it started drizzling, and by the time the room allocation was done it turned to full fledge rain. Rama lake route had a glacier en-route blocking the way, so with constant rain, I don’t think people managed to go to the lake. Having been to the lake 3 times before, I wasn’t interested in getting all muddy. So we just chilled at PTDC after lunch followed by hot doodh patti. Rest of the evening was spent in either chit chat roaming around and some of us went for a nap back in the rooms before dinner.

Day2, we had a switch of drivers in our ride, I took over the steering and Ehsan Kiani joined me in the passenger seat. The route to chillum chowki and than onwards to Minimerg is gorgeous to say the least. The fact we had a very slight cloud cover and the rain from previous night had made everything bright n fresh and the greens were just awesome, starting straight when coming down from Rama. The water flowing besides us through-out was fresh blue / turquoise. Everyone was snapping away. We had to wait at chillum chowki for convoy to re-group, than it was on to Burzil pass. It was my first time on this side, and must say it’s mesmerizing. Burzil top greeted us with rain. Burzil top was almost 14000ft, so slightly higher than Babuser top, Noori top and Batugah top!

We were made to wait by the check post people until rain slowed down before we were allowed the descent. Minimerg was lush green, very serene n amazing. Our stay there was a short one, coz we had to proceed onwards to Domail. With constant drizzle n rain everyone wanted to not stop un-necessarily. Soon we made it to Domail, we went first to rainbow lake. A man made lake, and very beautiful it was! Our stop there was made short by the constant drizzle.

We managed to get permission for the army mess for our lunch. Not sure if they regretted allowing us in, as our 32 strong bunch was loud and full juggat mode. Had great fun waiting for the food to get ready. We had good chit chat with the officers there, who were very kind with their hospitality.

Than it was return time, we drove steadily back to Burzil top. The Vigo 1kd had enormous power, it made it up easily in 2X4. The only issue was its Thai origin, which meant no defogger or heater and with all the humidity from rain and freezing temps at the top, it was not a comfortable place to be in!! It was then when I realized, why Zohaib left me in Vigo, and went for the comfortable heated seats of Tundra! Ehsan n my hands n fingers (and many more body parts) were frozen numb by the time we made it back to chillum chowki!

We managed to get dry wood from chillum chowki for our bonfire camping night. An oncoming vehicle informed us that a LC 70 Prado was stuck in mud near Sheosar lake, and if we could help them. Those who have been to Sheosar will know that the area next to lake coming from chillum side has lot of slush, n that’s where we found the LC stuck. They didn’t have any towing gear, and struggling using electrical wires as ropes!! Anyway, IJC gang went up to them and sorted it out. They were out in no time. In the mean time, our mighty tundra in its aim to rush for help got bogged down itself in muddy slush. It completely dark at the time, so not easy to see the surface under tall grass. Anyway, tundra pulled itself out with the winch by anchoring to the Vigo.

We decided to camp very close to the same place we camped few years ago, next to Sheosar Lake. The bonfire was lit, the tent were set up. Everyone prepared the tents for water proofing as it was still drizzling intermittently! There we had music, bonfire, food and everyone had a great time. We had a cloud cover through-out so couldn’t do star gazing. The night was freezing as expected. The chit chat and laughter continued till mid-night before people started disappearing in there tents. Zohaib n I joined Salman n Saeed bhai in their large tent, there was a snoring competition going on, the rain continued through the night, which muffled the sounds quite a lot.

Day 3.........Next morning most were up by 7. In view of drizzle, it was decided to pack-up and leave, and have tea / breakfast at Bara Pani area. The drive through Deosai is always an amazing experience! It was my 5th time there, and each time I am mesmerized even more. This time we even came face to face with Golden Marmot. Now in the past they always run n hide away in their burrows, this time it stood 3-4 feet away from my door and almost seemed it was ready to jump to push us intruders away! Its long claws used for digging these burrows were worth a watch!

Due to ongoing rain, most of the track was muddy n slushy. Zohaib was enjoying mud bashing to the fullest and ventured onto several small side tracks and few times I really thought we will get stuck/ bogged down, but Vigo was in its element and just eased through!

Brief tea with cake rusk stop at Bara Pani n then it was onwards to Satpara lake, where after a brief stop we moved on to PTDC Skardu. PTDC Skardu boasts a phenomenal view from its back gardens of the river, the mountains and the small sand desert. After room allocation it was lunch time. After which some of us wandered to the city, some to Shangrila Hotel / upper Kachura Lake and some went to the sand dunes!

As we had camped the previous night, most people retired to their rooms early, but for us the gupshup sessions went on for long. We were up till almost 4, discussing 4X4s through out! Next morning we were leaving at 8 sharp, so getting up at 7am was not easy at all! But as I was sort of leading the program…………martaa kiya na kartaaa, uthna hee para!

Day 4.....We left for our day visits, first to Mantoka village in Mehdiabad region for the Madhupur waterfall. The waterfall was amazing, Had a brief shower in the freezing waterfall along with Ali n Hayzin, we were all shivering for quite some time afterwards!

From the waterfall it was onto Shigar Fort next, After a round of the fort with the guide it was on to the cold Desert, not very far from main Shigar town! The dunes were amazing! Asad our original Desert Devil, who also happened to spend last year n a bit in UAE, had good experience of dealing with dunes, and so did Ali who spent his early years there. They guided everyone else on how to deal with dunes driving. Soon, most got the hang of it! It was at that time, I missed my LC and NPP quite a lot. All rides had their engines screaming attempting various inclines, slopes and crests crossings! We had to change Tundra tyres, which got de-beaded.

Than there was a quick lunch break, than it was onwards to the bigger Sand Dunes desert which is visible from PTDC Skardu. Now this was even more amazing, it had huge dunes, many insurmountable even by the mighty tundra! It was like children in sand pit area, no one wanted to come out of the dunes, but than it became dark and eventually we left back for our hotel.

People had their car serviced and air filters cleaned up, all full of dirt n sand! Tyres were inflated back to standard pressures. Minor vehicular repairs addressed. Things organized for next day long return journey.

Day 5....Next morning there were two convoys. Half wanted to leave real early, and did leave before 4:30am. I was in 2nd convoy, we had breakfast at PTDC and checked out of PTDC and on our way by 7:30am. Roads were still empty at 7:30, so we made best use of it and everyone seemed to be in brisk mode. Mashaallah, we made good time, first stop was at KKH petrol station, fuelling for some, tea for everyone! We decided next stop would be after Babuser top at Moon Restaurant near Jalkhad. Alhamdolillah, all rides made up Babuser briskly. A few pics on top n we hit the road again.

Moon restaurant has been a good experience for us this year. They can cater to order any size (like our 32 people group) there food is good and prepared quickly. We were back on the road in 35 minutes. We travelled steadily, no major stops. Road condition was good thru out, traffic was moving along nicely. Radio banter was continuing. Tufail had minor fuel crises during this part, he didn’t fuel up at KKH, and when we speeded up Babuser, he followed us all, and didn’t realize that the 1KZ would gulp down fuel like mad in this mode. His fuel light came on, so we slowed down a bit drove it steady, so he could make to next diesel stop. And he did make it, phewwww!

Balakot was the last fuel stop/ wash room break! Surprisingly traffic in that balakot Mansehra section n also Mansehra Abbotabad section wasn’t too bad! Abbotabad Haripur section was busy, but still moving. Everyone went quiet on radios………maybe we were getting close to home now………well maybe!!!………No, actually our car radio battery had died……….so we couldn’t hear anyone! ;p

Quick stop at motorway last services for good byes and shifting passengers back to appropriate rides. I was home by 10pm. Few rides from first convoy made it home just before us, while others after us. They had left early, but took more n longer breaks on the way and that 3 hour head start had almost disappeared by the time we reached Islamabad. Also Nomi’s Landrover was in the convoy and couldn’t push it much coz of some issues!

Alhamdolillah all went as planned by the grace of Almighty. Eternally thankful for his blessings upon us and for bringing us back safely from all of our adventures. Many thnx to all my fellow IJCians n their friends for being wonderful partners on this trip, for their help. Co-operation and most of all their great company!

Next the rally season is coming………………..so gear up BOYS!!!!

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post #2 of 3 Old 09-12-2016, 06:01 AM Thread Starter
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post #3 of 3 Old 09-12-2016, 06:06 AM Thread Starter
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