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We hiked the highest peak on Margalla Hills

(Coordinates: 33° 49' 49" North, 73° 08' 20" East)

(Shaikh Muhammad Ali)

3D Google Map of the Highest Peak of Margalla Hills: Elevation 1,597 Metres

“We travel, then, in search of both self and anonymity -- and, of course, in finding the one we apprehend the other”……George Santayana

The highest peak of Margalla Hills

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About a month ago, a very dear friend and ex-Colleague Syed Waqar Hashmi shared information about a place called ‘Charouni’ in the local parlance up in the Margalla Hills. ‘Charouni’ in Potohari language means a place where cattle can graze. The interesting thing about this place is that it is a ten minute hike from one of the highest peak in the Margalla Hills and thus I was again tempted to take out my hiking shoes. As usual, I discussed this venture with Hassan Zaidi (my hiking buddy) and we decided to scale this peak on Sunday, 2nd October 2011. This time around we also decided to take Adil (my older son) with us since this was supposedly a comfortable and a short hike from Pir Sohawa. Come 2nd October 2011 and we met at the parking lot of the Islamabad Zoo at 5:30 a.m. and from there the two of us i.e. Father and son shifted to Hassan’s Jeep Cherokee and off we went to Pir Sohawa. We reached the location as was conveyed to us by Waqar and parked our car there but incidentally took a wrong route after asking a local to visit Charouni.

(The starting point of the trek to Charouni)

The highest peak of Margalla Hills

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The actual trek started further up on the road which was a ten minute walk from the location in the above picture but since we were slightly misguided, we started from here. Very soon the trek became steep and we had to take a break within the first half hour. We stopped for air and a few pictures at this spot.

(Adil and Hassan taking a break)

(Hassan & I at the same spot)

The highest peak of Margalla Hills

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After taking a quick break, we started to ascend and since we had taken a slightly wrong route, we almost got lost in the woods. With the perseverant nature that we have; we kept on walking till I realized that something was terribly wrong and we were constantly walking on a trek which was not ascending the way it should have and we were just by-passing the peak on our left. We finally stopped and readjusted our mental compass and finally decided to do a cross hike on the left and ascend. This sudden ascent was a tough call since we were leaving the trek and were chartering into unknown territory but we had to take this risk since we had almost lost two hours and there was no peak in sight. After doing a tough and a risky climb, we could see a peak although this was not the peak that we wanted to scale since our peak had a cell phone tower at the top which was our landmark. Nevertheless, we reached this peak in a total time of almost three hours while reaching the top we could finally see our peak which was actually another hill top. It was quite painful to appreciate the fact that after climbing for almost three hours we had scaled a wrong peak. As ardent, hard core climbers we immediately shared notes and decided to descend from this peak and continue our journey towards the actual peak. This has happened to us for the first time probably because this trek was not frequented by many and had no clear marks for hikers. Now that our peak was in view, we were more desperate to reach that one. Slowly and gradually, we got on the right path and kept on pursuing our goal like a mountain goat with slow and steady steps. Eventually, we reached the peak but somehow missed the place called ‘Charouni’ which was at the base of this particular peak. But we decided that we can revisit ‘Charouni’ at some other time. It took us another 1.5 hours to reach the maximum height at this particular peak which happened to be 1,597 metres.

The highest peak of Margalla Hills

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(Adil and I at the summit, Elevation: 1,597 metres) Although, I have read on the Internet that the highest peak on Margalla Hills is 1,604 metres but it is quite possible that the calibration of our altitude gadget was slightly out by 7 metres. Nevertheless, we were really excited to reach the highest altitude in the Margalla Hills and especially Adil who is just twelve years old was overjoyed to have accomplished this gargantuan task.

(Adil next to the tea getting ready)

The highest peak of Margalla Hills

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As usual, once we were at the top; Hassan made us a wonderful, hot cup of tea and while relaxing; we feasted on peanuts, chips and other knickknacks.

(Enjoying a hot cup of tea with the Master Chef: Hassan Zaidi) After having tea, we walked around for a while and later rested with a few puffs on Hassan’s Shisha. This shisha always goes with Hassan on all such trekking expeditions.

(Hassan & I relaxing with the Shisha)
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After spending almost an hour at the top and enjoying the serenity of the place, we decided to call it a day. We were almost dead tired on our descent since we had been barking on wrong trees so to say.

(The highest cell phone tower on the Margalla Hills)
Nevertheless, it took us almost two hours to return to the base camp where our Jeep was parked. On the way back, we did notice the arrows and signs made by the Asian Study Group (ASG) which showed the directions going to the top but since we had taken a wrong route to our destination thus missed these signs altogether. The entire expedition took us around seven hours which was a rather long time just to reach a height of 1,597 metres as per our dictionary but we were all too happy to have scaled the highest peak of the Margalla Hills.

‘The Wandering Dervish’

Shaikh Muhammed Ali

E-mail: Cell: +00-92-321-5072996 10th October 2011, 04:59 p.m. (PST)
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