I saw snow. That’s the tl;dr of this short post. You have to grow up in a tropical, ever green part of India that experiences six months of rains and six months of heat to truly appreciate the reason “seeing snow” is in my bucket list.
In my head, I was planning a trip to Switzerland at some point to experience this snow, but Covid-19 put a block on any such plan. It was partly out of frustration and partly out of desperation that we planned a trip to Gulmarg and Srinagar.
When we made the booking, the expectation of seeing snow was remote except in the higher ranges of Gulmarg, but we headed closer to the trip weather forecast was promising snow, at least a bit of it.
The first thing that surprised me about Gulmarg is how close by it was from Srinagar. The second thing that blew me away was the whiteness of the place. It felt like someone had taken out all the colours from the place and replaced it all with white. The third in the list of surprises was the way rains transitioned into an icy rainfall which then turned into snow as our car climbed higher up the mountain.
Once there, the roads were slushy with ice and mud mixed in making grip a luxury. The hotel on the other hand was well heated and we barely felt any cold even though the temperature was in the negative outside.
We quickly got into our snow attire, which was multiple layers of thermals, sweater, jacket and an overcoat and headed out into the whiteout.
After stumbling around for a bit to get a grip of the feel of walking on slush, we headed off the main roads onto the faint paths we could see in snow. It was here that I picked up snow for the first time in my life.
To be honest, I expected it to feel a bit more icy and not as ridiculously soft as it was. It was not free flowing like sand, it was not hard like ice. They were gentle flakes that would crunch under my feet and squeeze into a ball within my palms.
And we took photos, lots and lots and lots, but I feel we should have taken more. And more videos.
The thing with trails though is that it is very easy to get lost and step into a mound of snow that is so fresh and soft that you would fall into it. On our first outting thankfully a mountain dog tagged along and guided us through the trail on to a road and from there on to a snow field which was again amazing!
The night was even crazier. What was a gentle snowfall turned into a heavy one and we saw the green tips of the trees completely covered with snow. When we stepped out the next day, what was ankle deep snow was now knee deep. The snow was now even more softer, flakier and it drifted in the wind like soot.
The rest of the activities we did in snow, were just an icing on top. If you ever get a chance to visit Gulmarg in winter please please do it! It was a truly amazing experience and I’m better off for it.