ISLAMABAD: The existence of water anywhere induces life into the monotony of a place. Every summer, ponds and streams of clear water anywhere becomes a blessing for the people of that locality, providing them with a haven for enjoyment and refreshment.
The very same thing happened at Trail 5, a famous hiking track on the picturesque Margalla Hills, where dead streams have started flowing again after heavy monsoon rains, adding to the scenery along the track.
Strangely, the track is now attracting more swimmers than hikers. A large number of people, both young and old, were seen spending most of their time in the cool water under the hot sun.
“My husband used to come here for hiking but after the rains, the flow of the streams made him decide to quit hiking and start swimming. He also brought our children, who now have become addicted to swimming and spend hours in the water,” said Shehla Riaz.
The place remained an attractive spot for many during Ramazan as well, but more so on the second and third day of Eid, when the weather in the capital also improved. A large number of people, instead of going to parks, went to the trail and turned it into a picnic spot.
The parking lot, normally only occupied by a handful of cars, was jammed packed.
Visitors came with big picnic baskets, mats, lifejackets, flotation devices and even tyres for their children.
“I have come with my cousins and we are really enjoying the water,” said Naufil, a six-year-old boy.
“We planned to go to Lake View Park, but the children insisted on coming here for swimming because they enjoy it more than anything else. We came here at around noon and now it is 4pm, yet the children are still not willing to come out of the water,” said Natalia, little Naufil’s mother.
Other families were more than happy to absorb the scenic beauty while relaxing along the water.
“This place looks like heaven in the scorching summer heat. A flowing stream on a hill surrounded by trees, it’s just so refreshing. It is unbelievable that we have such a calm beautiful place within the city,” said Nosheen who lives across the trail. She came there with her 50-year-old mother, Najma, to have lunch along the stream.
“It is the very first time I have come here, even though I live so close. I used to think that this place is for young people, but now I realise how refreshing it can be for people of all ages,” said Najma.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Mudassir Khan, a regular hiker who has been coming there for the past seven years, said, “Water flowing in the stream changed the entire scenario. Real hikers vanish and swimmers take their place.” However, hikers who like walking along the water change their route and instead of using the normal track they walk along the stream, he said.
“It is mainly because in Islamabad, there is no place for the common man to go swimming, as existing facilities like Islamabad
Club and others are unaffordable for many. Here, it is free,” he said.
Khan said that during this time of year, animals like monkeys and boars vanish from the trail, making them much safer.
However, there were some regular hikers who complained about picnickers littering the trail by throwing leftover food, wrappers, plastic bottles, juice packets and shopping bags around it. As one asked, “If they enjoy it so much, why do they destroy it?”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2011.