Trekking in Kashmir is covered with green lush hills and grassland surroundings, river accompanying on the side.
Yes, you were assuming the correct route because that is what someone describes after trekking in Kashmir.
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Katarnag Lake Trek
Katarnag Trek starts from Aru Valley that is in Pahalgam town, district Anantnag.
It is a short trek mainly of 2 days, and for locals, it is not even for a day (I did in 1 day but a hotchpotch). The lake is situated at 14,107ft (Via Indianexpress) above sea level. It is a 12km trek starting from Aru in Pahalgam.
Although a lot of info could not be found on the Katarnag lake trek on the search engine, very few people opt for this trek.
Things to pack before the start of the trek
Now, you must jot down these points or take a screenshot because it will help you during the trek.
1.Wear Full Track Pant
You – Cannot we wear shorts?
Me – No, because the trek is full of thorns, and if you wear shorts, your leg will be exposed to get cuts from thorns.
No one told me this, and I got cuts.
However, I do not want you to do the same. ( As seen in the image below, I wore shorts in the trek ).
2.Tight Grip Shoes
Shoes with a grip on the trekking are an important essential, not only in this trek but anywhere.
You will be passing by a mixture of small and big stones in half of the journey. Hence, it is necessary to hold a tight grip if, by chance, you misbalance.
When trekking in Kashmir, you cannot trust the weather anytime. From irritating sunshine during the day to a thunderstorm by evening to cold during the night.
As been told by the locals and it turned out the same, it started raining in the evening when we are coming back.
An Essential during any trek – Energy bars, light to carry, and keeps your stomach healthily packed.
Trekking in Kashmir is all about the lakes on every mountain that every person leaves to conquer.
Therefore, if you feel thirsty at any point in time, the river will be right there accompanying you all over.
Start of Katarnag Lake Trek
Let us start the trek,
I heard an enchanting yes.
(Me and Ubaid)
Ubaid is an advanced Skier, trekker, and adventure lover. He is still in school, and I was shocked when he told me this ( He could be seen in the image below ).
So, we started at around 9 a.m. from the grassland area (greenery all around) in Aru valley.
*Let me tell you right at the starting that the trek is steep and gradually increases over time.
After walking a few minutes, and stopped at a place. We were just talking about how beautiful this place is, in terms of greenery all around.
Ubaid replied that this is not green for us.
Earlier, it used to have 1ft of grass all around and increased tourists in this area. As the people and horse activity increased, it made it difficult to grow long grasses.
Reached Kooth Pathri
We reached a place called Kooth Pathri after an hour of trek. This place is even not on google maps, and so do I have not heard of it. I took some rest, and we headed towards our journey.
I took some rest, and we headed towards our journey.
Now the steepness takes place at every step we take forward.
Ubaid was doing so smoothly, and I was talking rests for the small interval after every few minutes of walks.
Slowly and Steadily, as we were inching heights, the interval time started increasing.
The thirstiness was not a problem because we were continuously accompanied by a waterfall on our right. We reached a point where we have to cross the waterfall.
We crossed the waterfall where it was less inflow and reached the other end.
Now, the steepness becomes even more after we have crossed the waterfall.
We can see a local carrying few clothes on his head and approaching the top where he stays.
We asked him about the distance left, and he replied 2 hrs more to go.
It is already afternoon and still 2 hrs more, and we have to come back as well.
I thought and told Ubaid that this is not a day trek, it requires 2 days, and he somehow agrees with me that only local people can go up and down in a day.
But we are left with no option instead of completing in a day.
I learned that moving slowly in the steep mountains is the way to go. I started applying it, and gradually we reached a point where few houses appear close.
Two boys saw us and asked –
Boy – Where you want to go?
Me – Katarnag lake
Boy – Katarnag?
Ubaid – Chotah Nag
Boy – okay, come with me.
Ubaid to me – They call Katarnag as Chotah Nag lake
Finally Reached Katarnag Lake
They both took us on edgy rocks, and finally, we landed on Katarnag lake, and it was blissful.
One side with flowers and another side with snow mountains. In between the Chotah nag lake (Katarnag lake).
Kashmir is truly a heaven, and that to trekking in Kashmir is like an added blizzard in heaven. The lake is crystal blue, like the color of these children’s eyes. The weather was cold since we are present at such a height. The boy stated that the lake is not deep as such.
Locals use the water from the lake to utilize for day-to-day work.
The locals cross the lake on horses if it is that necessary to cross the lake.
It was around 3 p.m., and we are still at Katarnag lake.
I told Ubaid that can we stay in the houses up there for a night because the network is available there.
*Only BSNL Network is available.
If we are staying, we can call at Aru heights that today we will be staying here.
Kids – We do not have any phones.
This made us think that we have to go down before sunset and rain.
It is easy descending as compared to ascending in any trek, to be honest.
It took us 5-6hrs to reach our destination from ground level, and the way back took 2-3hrs.
Managed to reach back before the rain.
Here is the second video on my Youtube channel. Let me know what you think about the trek or video or anything you want to ask in the comments below.
I know you have some questions in mind like –
I know you have some questions in mind like –
Where to hire the guide?
The guide can be available near the horses, and you can spot them easily. Ubaid is a member of the family that manages Aru Heights. So, he acted as a guide to come with me.
Although he is going for the second time.
What are the charges of the guide?
The charges depend upon whether you are asking separately from the ground level or from where you were staying.
If asking separately, they will be telling the fixed price.
If you had asked from where you were staying, there is a likelihood that you can bargain for a discount.
Can we do as a Beginner?
I do not think a beginner should try this because of the continuous steepness that I feel.
You know your strengths better.
If you feel confident about your strength, then you can opt for this trek in Kashmir.
If you are a beginner and want to get started with trekking in the mountains?
Then start with Triund Trek in McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh.
Perfect for someone who has not trekked before.
What Weight is Recommended to Carry?
Try to carry as light as possible, mainly below 2-3kg on your back.
I carried more than 3kg, have not weighted but what I feel from the weight. At some stage, it started causing the problem that every time I thought of walking for long distances, it acted as a barrier and stopped me for small intervals.
Carry as light as possible.
What Type of Clothes Should You Pack?
Ditto, as light. But carry a full sleeve sweatshirt/ jacket because on top it will be cold.
And as the day comes towards the end, the temp starts to drop.
Which Season is Good for the Katarnag Lake trek?
Likewise, I had mentioned before, always carry an extra pair of clothes because it can rain any time. The climate changes in the blink of an eye, the temperature starts to drop.
Especially when you are trekking in Kashmir must focus on these conditions.
Apart from this, the summer season is good and pleasant for the trek. Mainly May-Sept, and take care of monsoon seasons July end – Aug end.
Can You Camp During the Trek?
Yes, you can camp at Kooth Pathri and not beyond that.
You will be thinking that why not beyond?
Because it is a steep trek
Therefore, the camp will not be on proper flat ground. Also, it is a kind of jungle after Kooth Pathri so, not recommended for camping.
You should keep your camp until Kooth Pathri if you are planning for one.
How Far is Kooth Pathri from the Starting Point?
Kooth Pathri is about a 1-2hr distance from the starting point. I know you will be left with the whole day after reaching early (If you camp there).
There are 3-4 houses, and probably you can talk with the locals, play with the kids, and learn how the people live there and how difficult/easy life there.
You can opt to go to Aru Valley and Green top. The time spent there will be good, and the next day you can continue your trek towards the destination.
We spent about 1hr on our return. We were feeling so hungry that we cannot move a step further. So, a local aunty gave us chapati to eat, spent some time with the kids because it is summer holidays (July) there and kids play all day.