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Hiking on Trail-3, Margalla Hills, Islamabad

Total Distance: 5.5 kilometers (Approx.) Estimated time (Both ways): 4+ hours (Coordinates: 33 44' 31" North, 73 04' 54" East)

(Shaikh Muhammad Ali)

3D Google Map of the Trek till View point: Elevation 2,022 2,785 Feet

There are no foreign lands. It is the


traveler only who is foreign.
Robert Louis Stevenson
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Overview:
When I was leaving the USA after completing my Bachelors in Electronics Engineering from the University of Southern Colorado, Pueblo, CO in 1991; I had so much weight with me and did not know what to bring back. Although most of my books, I had booked through surface mail for Karachi, Pakistan but still since I had travelled to some 22 states up and down, East and West; I had gathered small curios from almost all the states that I had been to and every small souvenir had a story along with a memory and thus had to be carried back home since I had a hunch that I will probably never visit this part of the planet again or at least not in the near future. The bad part of travelling especially long distances through air is that for each story you carry back home has a cost. Well, the story was related to an item and the item carried weight. I wish the airline guys could understand, well why would they since they were not a part of that story and these stories belonged to me and only me. Thus, I had to unpack all my belongings again and had to take the brutal decision of leaving / discarding a few of my stories, I mean items. One item of relevance here was the fishing rod that I bought from Wal-Mart in Colorado. I had been to many fishing expeditions (mostly failed ones) in the Pueblo River off highway 50 where we hardly caught any huge catch but the travel and the outings were enough to write home about. Had I had brought the fishing rod back with me and now that I have been living in Islamabad for the last 9 years, we could have gone fishing at the Rawal Lake and the family could have enjoyed fishing escapades too. Nevertheless, life is like that. I stopped by in Legaspi city, Philippines (on the way back to Pakistan in 1991) where one of my cousins was doing his MBA and stayed here for 10 days and wanted to attempt a hiking trip to the Mayon Mountain also known as the Mayon Volcano which is also famous as the most perfect natural cone in the world. We could not go to the top since the mountain kept spewing lava smoke off and on. I came to love this country so much that I returned in May 1993 to do my Masters from the Asian Institute of Management, Manila, Philippines. This I will write about some other time. Here I bought my first trekking pole (read hiking stick) since I interacted with many foreigners who would visit the Philippines for hiking, touring, scuba-diving trips. Unfortunately, this pole I also had to part with since when I was returning from the Philippines to Pakistan, I was again over weight and had to let go off some dreams and memories of this beautiful country.

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Now lets return to the main theme of this article. Adil (my older son) and I ventured out on Sunday, 1st January 2012 to hike the Trail 3 on the Margalla Hills, Islamabad. I had heard that this trek was a little steep and thus decided not to invite Mohsin, Ayesha and their mother. We got up around 8:00 a.m., got ready and first stopped by at a Dhaba for a sumptuous Chai-Paratha breakfast. Around, 9:00 a.m. we left for the venue and by 9:15 a.m. we had reached the Trail 3 parking lot which was right across sector F-6/3. Around 9:20 a.m. we took our first picture and started the trek.

(Starting point of Trail 3 at the car park) Adil wearing a sweater and gloves shows that the temperature was around 5 Degree Celsius or less on that chilly morning.

(Adil at the Trail-3 Map) Although, we were missing the rest of the family but we wanted to check this trek first and see if this was possible for Ayesha to manage.
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(Adil at the 0 km marker) Within 15 minutes, we had reached the first resting place and stopped by to take the following picture:

(I am enjoying the canopy shade) Within two minutes of walking past this rest area, we saw a rather steep track which was a Fire Trail. Although, this trek looked extremely steep but after sharing mental notes with Adil, we decided to hike this one since it would save at least half an hour of walk.

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(The Fire Trek on Trail 3) After walking on the fire trail for some good 12 minutes, we had to take a break due to the toughness of the terrain.

(Adil half way on the Fire trail) Another 14 minutes on the Fire trail and we had to take our next break. We stopped here for water, took off our sweaters and enjoyed the beauty of the place. It was almost 10:03 a.m. when we reached this spot.

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(I am resting on a rock on the Fire trail) In the next 53 minutes, we were on top of the resting area called the View point. A family was already there enjoying the views, weather and picnic snacks. Three more groups joined us in the next 15 or so minutes one after the other.

(Snack time at View point) There were exercise poles at this rest area and Adil tried some gimmicks but was too young to have climbed them.

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(Adil trying to exercise) After spending some good 10 minutes at this view point and enjoying our snacks of Chips, Bananas and Oranges, we decided to retreat from this place. Although, the track did continue further for another one hour but we somehow decided to return. So we asked someone to take a parting picture before we descended the hill.

(Father & son at the summit of the view point) On the way back, we just realized that some people had littered and we decided to clean this mess. So we got hold of our plastic bags in which we had carried our snacks and we picked up plastic wrappers of chips, chewing gums, toffees, sweets, coke cans and water bottles and gathered three bags full of these discarded items and dumped them in garbage bins on the way back.
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(Adil with the garbage bags) Within an hour, we had reached the end of the trail and I ended up enjoying a cup of tea at the only kiosk at the Trail 3 car park.

(I am enjoying a hot cup of tea at the car park) The entire hike took us around 2:52 hours with enough time for water breaks, pictures and snacks. This hike was yet another feather in our caps although we still have to hike on the Saidpur trek, Trail -1, Trail 2, Trail -6 and Kalinger valley trek in the future. With this in mind, we left for home around 12:15 p.m. a bit tired from this escapade but with wonderful memoirs of this hike. This is what Wikitravel says about Trail # 3: Trail 3 - begins from Margalla Road, F-6/3 (the junction between Margalla Road & Ataturk Avenue). It is a little steep and strenuous in the first leg, which goes up to the Viewpoint and is about a 30 - 50 min. trek. After the Viewpoint you can continue on for another easy-going 45 - 60 mins and reach the Pir Sohawa, where you can
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choose from 3 restaurants for food, The Monal, Tree house and Capital View Restaurant. This is the most popular walk, hence litter levels are high1.

The Wandering Dervish

Shaikh Muhammed Ali

E-mail: dushkashaikh@gmail.com Cell: +00-92-321-5072996 12th March 2012, 04:22 p.m. (PST)

http://wikitravel.org/en/Islamabad

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