Exploring Rush Lake: Pakistan’s Shining Alpine Gem
Nestled at a breathtaking altitude of 4,694 meters (15,400 ft) within the picturesque Nagar Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, Rush Lake stands as a true marvel of nature. This high-altitude alpine lake, ensconced on a ridge in the mighty Karakorams, boasts an awe-inspiring backdrop of snow-capped mountain peaks. Rush Lake is accessible through a moderate yet challenging trek along the glacier. The trek starts from Hoper village in the Nagar Valley. The pristine lake is more than just a geographical wonder; it’s undoubtedly an experience waiting to unfold.
Unraveling the Name – Rush Phari: The Shining Lake
Known as “Rush Phari” by the locals, the name carries a poetic significance. “Rush” signifies “shine,” and “Phari” refers to a “water reservoir” or pond. Together, “Rush Phari” paints a vivid picture of the “Shining Lake.” The moniker seems apt, as for a significant part of the year, the lake’s surface glistens under a crystal-clear ice crust. It reflects the sun’s rays and creates a mesmerizing spectacle. Even during the balmy summer days when the icy shroud begins to thaw, the lake mirrors the majestic mountain peaks. It cast the shadows of surrounding mountain peaks upon its clear waters. The verdant surroundings come alive during peak summer, adding to the lake’s allure.
A Panorama of Splendor: Attractions Galore
The Rush Lake experience is not limited to the lake itself; it extends to the surrounding beauty. Perched on a high-altitude ridge that marks the junction of Barpu Glacier and Bualtar Glacier, this location offers a 360-degree vista of awe-inspiring mountain landscapes. Gaze upon the regal Spantik (Golden Peak, 7027m), Mair Peak (6824m), Diran’s summit (7257m), and Rakaposhi (7788m) in the Nagar Region, along with Lady Finger, Ultar Peak (7388m), and the Batura series in the Hunza Valley. On clear days, you can even spot the summit of K-2 (8611 m), the second-highest mountain in Skardu, along with Broad Peak and Hidden Peak from the lake’s vantage point.
Adjacent to Rush Lake stands the prominent “Rush Peak,” intrinsically linked to the lake’s name. Rush Peak’s elevation of 5,098 meters (16,726 ft) makes it easily accessible from the lake’s vicinity. A short excursion to the peak, usually included in the trek, takes only a couple of hours from the campsite near the lake.
The Journey to Tranquility: Accessing Rush Lake
The Rush Lake trek, renowned among international trekkers, commences in the charming Hoper village of the Nagar Valley, situated opposite the Hunza Valley and accessible via a well-maintained metalled road. The trek’s starting point at the eastern end of the village treats trekkers to breathtaking views of the entire route and the encircling mountains.
To reach Rush Lake, embark on a trekking route that runs parallel to the Hopar Glacier (Boaltar Glacier) and Miar Glacier, originating from the Miar and Phuparash peaks. Starting from Hoper Valley, the trail descends to the Hoper Glacier before leading you across Barpu Glacier, culminating at a serene pasture trail. Much of this path is smooth and enchanting, offering captivating views of Baricho Kor, an overnight campsite. The uphill stretch from Baricho Kor to Chidin Harai, lasting 3 to 4 hours, tests trekkers’ resolve and stamina, particularly those yet to acclimatize. Along this ascent, revel in scenic vistas of the glacier and the imposing mountains of the Nagar Valley. An additional hour’s hike will bring you to the lake’s shores.
For international and Pakistani tourists alike, the journey to Rush Lake typically begins with a car or bus ride to Gilgit via the Karakoram Highway or Naran-Gilgit road. A 55-minute flight from Islamabad to Gilgit by PIA is an option, though flight availability depends on weather conditions. From Gilgit, a 100-kilometer, 2.5-hour drive takes you to the Hunza Valley. Continue to drive for a 2-hour jeep ride to the Hoper Valley.
Timing is Everything: Best Time to Visit
To witness Rush Lake in all its glory, plan your visit during the summer season, spanning from June to September. In June, patches of ice still grace the landscape, while late summer sees the flora in full bloom. The ice usually melts away in July and August, revealing the alpine vegetation along the route and around the lake, creating an enchanting spectacle of natural beauty.
Preparing for the Journey: Essential Guidelines
If you’re considering a trip to Rush Lake, thorough preparation is key to a successful and safe adventure. Here are some essential guidelines to assist in your preplanning:
- A personal backpack for your belongings and a sturdy walking stick
- Layered clothing for warmth, including a raincoat
- Trekking trousers or a tracksuit, along with an extra T-shirt or sweatshirt
- Proper trekking shoes or ankle-high joggers, a pair of flip-flops, and warm gloves and socks
- Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a cap
- A camera for capturing memories
- Rechargeable flashlights or torches
- Personal medications
- Towels, handkerchiefs, and shampoo or soap
- Optional: A sleeping tent, sleeping bag, and mattress
For both international and Pakistani tourists embarking on the Rush Lake trek, it’s advisable to enlist the services of a licensed tour operator. These professionals can provide the necessary support. Services include the staff, food, equipment, tour guides, and emergency services, ensuring a safe and enjoyable journey.