Three Months Shikar from Kamptee to Baltistan
F.A. Dixon R.H.A. and A.H. Hopwood, Lincolnshire Regiment (Xth)
This is F.A. Dixon's original diary. There is a second one, written for his mother, Alice Dixon which was also hand written. Both go with an album of photographs, some of which are reproduced here.
Friday, 5th July 1907
Left Kamptee by mail train 1.30 PM. Changed Bushaval into the Punjab mail.
Saturday, 6th July
Had a good Europe morning and settled down for another day in the train, with books and smokes. Jhansi very hot, but Delhi took the Huntley and Palmer s. Ice was at a premium all day owing to some of the passengers having bought up all the iceman s stock.
Sunday, 7th July
An excellent night s rest and again settled down to another day s imprisonment - nothing very exciting happened. Arrived Rawalpindi about 9.45 PM and had dinner in the Refreshment Room. After dinner we removed our kit to Imperial Hotel for the night.
Monday, 8th July
Europe morning and a good breakfast. Then to Danjiboy to order a Tonga. Left Rawalpindi 10 AM by Tonga and did 38 miles to Murree with numerous changes of ponies. Road nearly all up hill and very hard and slow work. Arrive Murree 4 PM and went to Mount Oswald (very much family) Hotel. At this hotel they have two dinners - the first for the common or garden people and the second for superior persons. The proprietor looked us up and down and decided that we were of the former class. Dinner at 8 AM and two other very fat and friendly N.C.O.s' wives from Pindi dined with us and we soon got very chummy, especially Pop. We then retired to our respective bedrooms, which were very small and none too clean.
Tuesday, 9th July
Chota Hazari 4 AM. Packed up our kit and started for a long drive of 96 miles in a Tonga. Stop for breakfast Kohalli (29 miles), lunch at Cahoti (33 miles), very good Dak bungalow, recently done up for the Viceroy. Thence to Uri (34 miles) of which the last 14 miles were all up hill and we arrived at 10 PM. Hopwood not feeling well so I dosed him with some success. Meet two fellows of the Guides (Banks and Ogilvie). Retired to bed after a very good dinner.
Wednesday, 10th July
Called at 4 AM. Hopwood not well (over dosed) so both sleep on till 8 AM. Then breakfast and started for Srinagar at about 10 AM (63 miles). Lunch at Baramula and then on without any delay to Srinagar where we arrived at about 6.30 PM and found Bahar Shah on the road, 7 miles from home, rubbing his hands and most anxious to please. He conducted us to the river and there we took a small boat to his shop, where our Dunga awaited our arrival. Settled down to tea first, did a little business and then dinner. Our new cook did us very well. Bed.
Thursday, 11th July
Called at 8 AM. Breakfast and then interviewed Bahar Shah. Introduced to Shikaris and showed them our guns, rifles and revolvers with which they were very pleased. Bought kit from Bahar Shah and others and then the Post Office for English mail, the library, stores and back to Dunga. Having made final arrangements all round we had dinner and then set sail for Bandipura, via the Wular Lake at 10.30 PM. Made up our accounts and had a long talk with our Shikaris who both seem very confident of success and a good bag. Retired to bed after a very busy day.
Srinagar is a very nice place built up on the river. One can either go about in a boat or drive to do one s shopping. We chose the boat. The Maharajah s Palace overlooks the river on the left bank. On the road from Pindi to Srinagar the scenery is very fine indeed and reminds me very much of Norway. The hills which are very numerous are high and very steep. The road runs along the right bank of the river Jhelum and is cut out of the sides of steep hills. On the left side it drops straight down several hundreds of feet in places, with the river below, and it is unfenced. The Tonga ponies go for all they are worth downhill and at a good steady pace uphill, so no time is wasted on the road. The ponies are changed every 5 miles on an average.
At Srinagar hundreds of tradesmen bother one to buy their goods. Jubbar Khan sells some very pretty carved boxes and tables. There is a museum and a very fine polo ground with English turf. The majority of visitors live in houseboats, similar to those on the Thames. A Dunga is practically a houseboat, but the top is made of matting and thatch.
Friday, 12th July - Krallpura
We awake to find our Dunga still on the move down the river and very near the Wular lake. As we were having Chota Hazari, the Wular Lake appeared but much to our surprise it was nearly dry on the Srinagar side and our boatmen were able to punt us along. About halfway across it began to get deeper and the weeds disappeared. Our Shikari pointed out the Tragbal Pass to us, leading zigzag up a very steep hill and then out of sight over the pass. Having packed up our kit, the coolies carried it ashore and packed it on ponies. Then, oh! then we made a start for our arduous tramp up hill and down dale for 8 days.
Our first camp was Krallpura, only 6 miles from Bandipura. Here we made all arrangements for supplies and riding ponies. The view down from here is very fine: on one side we overlooked the Wular Lake, and on the other side green mountains with snow tops towered above us.
Saturday, 13th July - Top of Tragbal
Called at 4 AM. Chota Hazari and packed up as quickly as possible. Then up the hill to Tragbal. We had luncheon here and afterwards up, up , up to the top of the pass where we camped for the night. We were now on the snow level and from our camp had a magnificent view: one side down to the Wular Lake in the dim distance just below us, and the other side snow tops of numerous hills. It was a terrible march. Hopwood and I came straight up the side of the mountain and at any moment could have turned round and jumped into our last camp, it was so steep. Every 200 yards we were forced to rest for a minute to get our breath. If the climate was not so very fine it would be almost impossible for us to have done today s march, we were both out of training. Our baggage ponies came up by the road which zigzags up in a cruel way. The whole climb is 50% worse than the worst part of the Stacherin Road. We arrived in camp at 1PM having reached a height of 11,000 feet and instead of being hot and clammy, as in our last camp, we are now wearing thick clothes and sweaters. The view all up the pass was ripping and every now and then the Shikaris turned us round and pointed out some peak or other which is good for Black Bear etc. The Shikari informed us that very few Sahibs ever walk up this pass as they always ride up by the road on a pony.
Last night we tried our rifles to let the Shikaris see that we can shoot straight and they were quite satisfied with our performance. I have taken photos of this camp and the view from our tents, also one of our baggage ponies and servants with baggage loaded for the march.
Sunday, 14th July - Gurais
Made an early start and marched downhill for about 6 miles. Fine view all the way, and tiffin at Kanjilwan. From here the road goes up and down and round about to Malik Kuddal (18 miles). Short halt here and then on to Gurais (27 miles). A very good road for walking but a very tiring march when one is not in good training. Both feeling very tired so had a hot tub, dinner and retired straight to bed.
Monday, 15th July - Mopinan
Started at 5 AM for a long and tedious march of 24 miles to Mopinan. Halt once for tiffin and once for tea. Nothing exciting on this march - view of course very fine. Took photo of small wire bridge. Camp at top of hill in very cold place. Buy sheep for 2/8.
Tuesday, 16th July - Chota Deosai
Made a start for the Burzil Pass. Halt for tiffin at the bottom of the pass and two other English Officers returning from Baltistan told us of their bad luck in losing their Shikari down a Khud. From here we began up the preliminary climb of the pass on our way we are shown the spot where 24 coolies and all the shooting kit of two Sahibs who were going to Astore were washed down by an avalanche. I took photos all up the nullah. At last we come to the Burzil hut which is the beginning of our climb up snow and rocks. It is a terrible three hours work.
At the top of the pass which is sheet snow we see the water parting of two rivers. We had some little difficulty with our transport: the ponies kept slipping into the snow up to their necks. My photos will show what the snow was like: one photo of mine will show how firm the snow was.
Two or three men can stand on a snow bridge over a waterfall or rapids. Well! Having got to the top, we had to go down the other side on the Chota Deosai Plateau where we camped for the night. Both Pop and myself had very bad headaches which we put down to the height, together with the sun on snow, which is very trying for the eyes. We ought to have worn blue goggles, but unfortunately we forgot to get them out of our kit boxes. After having a warm tub, I was sent for by my Shikari to shoot a marmot which I did, and killed another which fell back into its hole and was lost. After this I tried my revolver on the snow 10 yards in front of my tent.
It was not very cold here in spite of all the snow and ice, but during the night it got terribly cold and I had to get up and put all the kit I possess on top of my bed clothes. There was a fine moon which made the snow mountains look very nice indeed. Our baggage ponies were turned loose to graze and two did not return next morning so we had to leave them and start as best we could.
Wednesday, 17th July - Karla Pass
Started at 6 AM. Left two ponies behind. I got a shot at a marmot just outside camp, but hit him in the body and he got into his hole - this was a lesson to me and I decided to aim for the head and bagged the next three with three cartridges. My Rook rifle was perfect for these little animals. They are huge squirrels, which sit over their burrows and make a hissing noise as one passes.
On the Sarisanagar pass which joins the Chota and Burra Deosai Plateaux we met a Capt. Walpole who had been out for six months and got almost every possible head. He gave us some very valuable advice as to nullahs etc. He recommended us to try Tuk, Astore, Bulchi.
The Deosai Plateau is a very dismal place - snow hills all round and every turning looks exactly like the last. We were looking forward to Red Bear shooting but find, much to our disappointment that they have not come onto the plateau yet. I think the reason is that there is too much snow. We wore grass shoes and goggles today for the first time. Grass shoes are made by our shikaris - we carry a special kind of grass for this. They are worn over two pairs of woolen socks which have a separate place for the big toe. This feels very funny at first but one soon gets used to it and can walk forever in them.
We are both getting very sun burnt in spite of all the snow around us. My beard helps to keep me warm, what there is of it up to date.
Tomorrow we are going out armed for bear and marmots, but I doubt if we shall see many of the former. I have got a deadly cartridge waiting for the unlucky one that chances to come my way.
Total bag up to today is 4 marmots - all F.A.D.
Thursday, 18th July - Below Burji La Pass
Leave Karla Pani at about 6 AM and break the back of the Deosai by 5 PM. The track is very bad stony and boggy with several stream to cross. I kept my .297 rifle handy and bagged 10 more marmots on the way - one of which was mangy so I left it. My tiffin coolie had a very busy time skinning all day and did not finish til dark.
The march was very tiring and we were both dog tired on arrival and our camp which was again by the river at the foot of the Burji La Pass . Pop was unwell so went straight to bed. I tried my .303 then dinner and bed. Bitterly cold all night. In the morning the stream by our tents was coated in ice. We met a fellow returning from Baltistan with 4 Ibex and 3 Sharpu. I thought he was German but the shikari said he was the Sharzada of some place or other. He said the Burji La was a terrible pass and that he had had difficulties there. Camp at foot of Burji.
Friday, 19th July - Skardu
Start climbing almost at our tent doors. For one mile it is more or less easy going and then we struck snow and ice which was very difficult for ponies and master. The Burji is almost straight up and covered with snow as my photo will show if only it comes out correctly.
The Kashmir ponies are marvelous little animals - they stick to it with heavy loads and tacked their way up to the top. It was the best part of an hour to climb which looked from the bottom quite a simple hill. One false step at any moment and down to the bottom in a very few seconds. Once at the top we were rewarded by a magnificent view - one side beautifully rounded snow clad hills and on the other side, Baltistan with rugged sharp and angry looking peaks to numerous to count and covered with snow. From here Mt. Godwin-Austen (28,000 ft. - K2) can be seen.
Our path down to Skardu looked anything but inviting. Of course we couldn t see Skardu as the nullah twists and turns round the mountains, as it descends. After a short rest at the top we being our awful 8 hours down hill trek. We started off somewhat badly by one of our baggage ponies making a false step and turning cartwheels down about 50 feet into a bank of snow. A coolie who was walking by just behind the pony saw it fall and promptly sat down on the snow and tobogganed after it. The pony lost his load and got up smiling as though nothing unusual had happened. A few minutes later, we had breakfast.
It was bitterly cold at the top of the pass, midst snow and ice and as we descended it gradually got warmer and so we discarded various articles of clothing. At the top we noticed a stream flowing down the nullah and after some little time, it had disappeared. Our shikari informed us that it had done a short cut under the mountain and would come out again a little lower, which it did - seemed to come straight through the thickest past of the mountain. The whole march was very difficult going, there being no road and the track led us over the most rocky and stony places. It was a treat to get a bit of up hill work for a few yards now and again.
I took several snapshots on the way down, which will be most interesting if only they come out well. It sounds nice and easy to go down hill all day, but when one descends 9,000 feet all at one go, bad going all the time, it is rather too much of a good thing. We had breakfast, luncheon and tea before we reached the bottom. The hills on either side of the nullah are very bare, steep and rocky. At intervals we got a glimpse of Skardu at the bottom and it looked quite close. At last we do really get to the bottom and find Skardu, quite different to what we had pictured: a village in such an out of the way place.
We stepped out of the nullah into a grove of blue gum trees and on our left an apricot orchard where we spent a very pleasant five minutes and after giving the coolie in charge 2d, marched on to our camping ground 3 miles further.
Skardu is surrounded by enormous hills as bare as your hat, except for snow at the summit. This is the sportsman s base for all the Baltistan nullahs. The whole valley from hill to hill on either side must be 10 miles, but only about 3 miles are cultivated. Mostly fruit and grain, all the other land is quite bare not even a bush growing.
On arrival at our camping ground, tents are pitched and ponies paid off. From here we took very little baggage, which had to be carried by coolies to the shooting ground. It is almost incredible that one can march in one day on flat foot from snow and ice to a climate which is almost tropical and where fruits like apricots etc are ripe on the trees. This makes it somewhat difficult to know what clothing to put on.
Our shikaris came in to warn us to pack all our boots and slippers away tonight as the Skardu dogs are never fed and have often been known to run off with any leather article they can lay hold of.
This pass is fairly bad to descend but I dread the day when I shall have to climb up again. Our shikaris have decided to go up the Shigar valley to two nullahs close together where we can get our four ibex and then return to one of the nullahs near here for three sharpu and possibly markhor.
Sending films in to Srinagar to be developed today. Marmot skins to old Sultana to be cured. Camped near Dak bungalow. Pop did his shopping and to bed early.
Saturday, 20th July - Shigar
A late start with coolie transport. On the river bank we had to wait about for one hour whilst the dug out took our kit over and then returned for us. The Indus is a very rapid river and the ferry boat very fragile as will be seen from the photo. The coolies push it out into the stream and hope that it will touch the other side some time or other (time is no object).
Having crossed the river we trekked along the opposite bank for about eight miles and then turned through a winding nullah into the Shigar valley where we camped for the night. Get very fine apricots here. After tea the Rajah of Shigar paid us a visit with his brother, they were both very genial, smoked a cheroot etc. Then one of his attendants brought round his hooker and wanted us to take a pull but we were afraid of it rather. He also brought a very funny old teapot and gave us tea in our own tents. The tea was flavoured with cinnamon and spices. Rather good but we were again afraid and after he left, threw it into the brook in front of our camp. He asked to see our rifles etc and was most interested.
At this camp we decided to part company and go for different nullahs so of course, divided up all our stores etc which was rather a business. Finished a letter home and sent it in by a native runner.
Sunday, 21st July - Barndu
Pop and I make a start together up the Shigar valley and said adieu after crossing the river again. The ferry boat is quite the funniest things I've ever seen in the whole of my life. It consists of 24 sheep skins blown up quite tight and lashed to bamboos. When out of the water and turned upside down to be blown up, which operation takes place after every voyage across the river, the skins look just like dressed sheep from the butcher's shop lashed in lines of four. It makes an excellent raft and quite safe (photo). Having negotiated this part of the river, we came into another branch and had to ride over on coolies shoulders. From here we took entirely different lines after wishing each other luck etc.
My camp was a very nice place at the bottom of my nullah, apricot trees all round me, a waterfall in my camping ground and a very fine view of the Shigar valley. My plan of operations was as follows - finish English mail and diary today and a rest. Tomorrow climb up to the top of my nullah and sleep there, so as to be near the ibex next morning. I expect to get one in this nullah then shall trek on to another and having bagged my four shall return down the valley to sharpu ground. Two sharpu in my bag, I shall go on again for markhor but am afraid my leave will be up before I get quite so far.
The Balti people are awfully good sorts. They cannot do enough for one. One man brought me a huge basket full of mulberries and another a basket of delicious apricots which I kept having a go at - they re top hole.
When I go up the nullah in the morning, my camp will still remain at the bottom. I shall sleep under a small tent, at the top of the hill, which will be carried by one of my coolies. This spot is simply delightful, should like to live here - ripping air - climate just right. The view all round as fine as any in the world I should say. Very similar to Norway except that it is a river and not a fjord that divides the mountains, which go straight up and are topped with snow. There is a polo-ground in Shigar and the natives play for hours at a time on tiny little ponies. I believe the Rajah is a great player. A great many of the natives dye their whiskers red up here. The old Rajah s are nearly pink and he cuts a very funny figure all round.
I am learning lots of Hindustani here, none of my people speak a word of English, so I have to talk to them in their own poisonous language.
The yak is the beast of burden in these parts. He is very like an English bullock with a fluffy tail. They cannot be worked at an altitude of less than 8,000 feet.
I can quite understand why so few people visit Baltistan for shooting. We have been on the trek for 17 days solid and yet not on the shooting ground. Every day of the 17 seemed worse than the one before it. The 2 days in the train were very tiresome - 3 days in the Tonga poisonous and every day after that on flat foot, worse than ever. I have thoroughly enjoyed it all but it really is a business and one deserves to get good sport for all the trouble of getting here.
Monday, 22nd July - Top of Baruda Nala
Sorted out kit to leave in village from kit to take up hill with me. Had breakfast and started at once to climb as far as the first line of snow. There had an egg and cob of bread. Very stiff climbing all the way, rest about every 100 yards. In several places I had to stand on the coolies back and in one place the coolie went before me making footholds with an axe as he went. At this point there was a shingle bank running down to the bottom which I don t think would hurt one to slip down but the awful thoughts of having to climb up it again made me more careful than if it had been dangerous. At every turning we examined the rocks and grassy slopes most carefully for ibex or bear. There is also a panther in this nullah. A steep ascent up a bank of snow brought us to the spot chosen by my able shikari for the tents and this will act as our base for the time being.
My tent debris had just been pitched and I was standing near it, when I saw a musk deer jump out of the scrub, 50 yards away, and down the rocks at 60 miles an hour out of sight. These deer are a present closed.
A late tiffin and tea combined then paid the wretched coolies who carried my kit up hill. 4d is correct pay but I felt generous and gave them 5d each for which they gave me plenty salaams. Sultana and the village shikari go out to watch the slopes for ibex and then having marked them down will return to camp and I shall go out before daybreak and try to get above them. Ibex never look up hill but it is impossible to get within a mile of them from below as they always look down hill for danger. They have wonderful noses and if approached down wind they put up their noses and away at once before the sportsman is within anything like shot of them.
Sultana and the servants are living in a cave just by my tent at present and jolly cosy they have made it too. These shikaris are excellent fellows for making bandobusts . Mine has even brought goats up here, so that I may have milk in my tea.
This is a very cold spot now at 4pm, so I am looking forward to a very cold night. Am glad to say I have lots of blankets and warm things for my bed.
Tomorrow I hope to see my first ibex and if within range I trust it will fall to my rifle. From this camp I can see right across the Shigar valley to the nullahs at the other side. Distances are awfully deceptive - in some lights the opposite nullahs look 500 yards and in others they look 5000 away.
Tuesday, 23rd July
Am called out early to see three small ibex just above camp: two does and one small buck lying on a grassy slope. Chota Hazari then a very stiff climb over snow banks and very steep rock to the highest point we can get to.
From here we examine all grassy places but see nothing of interest - all the way up we came across marks of ibex and also panther. We sit down at the top and wait, one man always on the look out. My shikari informs me that we are not likely to see anything til afternoon so I have lunch and make myself very comfortable for a sleep - awfully cold.
At about 4pm, Sultana calls me up to see 8 ibex, all young bucks trotting along a snow bank just under our position well within shot. On they go til they get to a very steep bit with a little grass growing here and there. I should have thought that this place was inaccessible even for ibex but they strolled up and about it, just as if it was flat.
Later we see 5 very nice heads coming down the opposite slope but not within range and it is impossible to get at them from our position so abandon the idea of getting a shot and return to camp leaving one fellow to watch them.
Wednesday, 24th July
Sultana called me at 2.30 AM and said that he knew where the 5 ibex had rested for the night and if we were out quickly we might get a shot at daybreak. I got up with great speed and when nearly dressed Sultana came with a very long face and said that it had started to rain. I had another hours sleep and when the rain cleared off we began our climb up the other branch of the nullah where the 5 ibex had last been seen. We came across their marks and followed them up but no signs of wily animals could we see so we again rested at the highest point til 3 or 4 o clock, then the look out man called me up to his position and showed me the 5 going over the next snow crest into the next nullah where we should never see them again. Sultana told me to fire one shot in hopes of making them turn back. I judged the distance to be about 500 yards and fired at the furthest away - the one aimed at twisted around suddenly and disappeared over the top whilst the others stood for a few minutes and then all ran in opposite directions. My shikari thought that one was hit in the quarters and decided to send coolies up the next day to look for him
Thursday, 25th July - Baradas Village
Balti Shikari and tiffin coolie go out in search for the said wounded ibex, personally I don t think he was hit. Sultana packs up my camp and we remove to the bottom of the hill. On the way I try my rifle and find it absolutely fine. At the bottom I find camp all correct and my post runner with letters but no English mail. The Lumbadar of the village brings me some lovely mulberries and apricots.
Dr. Husband s post wallah calls at my camp and informs me that they have left Neamen nullah having got 4 very fine ibex. Sultana decides to trek there at once - 4 marches
Friday, 26th July - Tisa
An early start for a long march along the Shigar River to Tisa about 23 miles mostly very bad going: either soft sand, soft clay or clinging to the side of perpendicular rocks overhanging the river like flies on the wall.
A few miles from Baradas we met Dr. Husband who was returning from Neamen nullah with 4 ibex (41 , 38, 38 and 36). He told us that there were at least 5 others about 40 but Sultana thinks it better to again change our plans and make for Kero nullah with all speed.
Our march today was very bad indeed. Owing to the proper path being flooded by the river, we had to take a very rough road over the rocks, one minute crawling along a plank, another descending a perpendicular slope by a native made ladder which was only secured to the rocks by roots of trees used as rope. I took photos of the road in places.
Dr. Husband informed me that he had seen Hopwood and that the was suffering form a severe strain of the knee which de bandaged up for him and told him to rest for a couple of days.
This is the most unpleasant camp I have struck up to date, the flies are nearly driving me mad at the present moment. They are the small aggravating kind that persist on settling on our nose at any cost. Several have already lost their lives in their attempts but this fact doesn t seem to daunt the remainder, who have not yet achieved their object.
This is a great fruit growing country - every village along the river has acres of apricot, apple, walnut and mulberry orchards and the trees are all drooping to the ground with the weight of the fruit. They also grow a great quantity of wheat and native vegetables. Their houses all very quaint and very dirty - flat topped mud huts with a wickerwork upper story which is thatched and well muddied to keep out the snow and rain.
The river is very muddy and rapid and its banks are quick-sandy in places which makes it a somewhat dangerous obstacle to cross. The Balti people, like the people of India, are very clever in making use of any little stream that passes through or near their village. They work a system of damns and can turn the water on to any orchard or crop by simply removing a few large stones from one place and putting them down in another thus turning the water down a different canal. When no one wants the water they just turn it down the footpath which is their main and only road to the outer world.
The Balti people are a very jolly good hearted lot and it is quite a pleasure to have to deal with them after the disrespectful Indian coolie one meets in the larger towns or Cantonments. Today I passed through several small villages and in almost every case the head man (called the Lumbadar) came out and offered me fruit and gave me his Salaams.
Every coolie salaams as he passes and if riding, dismounts whilst I pass. Some of them stop and have a chat, ask where I am making for and wish me the best of luck etc.
Before starting on this trip I had very little idea what a nullah really was - in India we call every little stream a nullah and it was difficult to picture ibex, markhor, sharpu etc. crouching in nullahs such as I knew them. When I arrived or rather approached Baltistan and saw in the dim distance huge mountains with millions of tons of snow separating the different peaks and was told by my shikari that the snow was the head of the nullahs, my idea completely changed and I began to realise what ibex stalking meant.
On arrival, I camped at the foot of Barndu nullah and my shikari then told me all about it. From my camp it looked as though one could climb to the very top in a couple of hours and I was very surprised when told that halfway up would be a good days work.
Next morning I was called at 4.30 am and proceeded to pack my bedding and small tent. My cook packed up what stores he wanted for about six days - the remainder of my kit and big tent were left below with one man to look after them and do my washing.
The climb to my secondary camping ground was very stiff indeed - the first half hour was over huge boulders then came a course of shingle and from that we came onto a stone ledge which ran up a straight rock for about 200 yards and averaged about 18 inches wide, from here one could kick a stone into the water below (100 or more feet). Having negotiated this I asked for a few minutes to breathe before starting up a snow bank which I was told was the remains of an avalanche. The natives went up at this just like ibex but I could not get along at all - every few strides I either fell down or slipped back a yard in spite of having a 5 foot khud stick with a sharp point to help me. After having a good laugh at my helplessness one of the Balti coolies came to my assistance and we eventually got to the top of it. Then a short spell of moderately easy going on a steep grassy slope brought us to more rocks which even beat the Burji La Pass . Every 20 or 30 yards there was a gap in the path of about 3 yards and a drop of 200-300 feet. I nearly gave it up as hopeless at the first one but again my Balti friend came to my assistance and made himself into a bridge but even them I was not quite happy. As I was crawling over his body with the shikari on one side pulling at my coat and arms, and my tiffin coolie on the other holding on to my trousers, I began to laugh at the absurdity of the thing, which put the finishing touch on and made me quite helpless. I managed the next one rather better being a little bit ashamed of myself for being so foolish. The natives stride over these places as if they are simply avoiding a pool of water in the road.
After this triumph we came to more grass and shrubs which led us to the camping ground where made tea for me and pitched camp. I lived in a small tent and the natives in a cave.
The next day I had another climb, quite as bad as the one detailed above, to the grassy slopes where the ibex feed. This point was about 2/3 of the way up the nullah, the remaining 1/3 was all snow and one huge block looked as though it might slip down any minute. I pointed this out to my shikari which made him laugh. However the following day when we were up the other arm of the nullah, we heard a terrible row going on next door and I found afterwards that my lump of snow had fallen.
It is simply marvelous to see the Balti coolies carrying one s baggage up these mountain passes - one man with a heavy yakdan on his back kept pace with me the first day and needed no help. His pay for such a day s work was 4d but I thought it well worth 5d, which I gave him and he salaamed me til I disappeared into my tent.
Am rather tired, so must go to bed.
Saturday, 27th July - Chutron
First day of fourth week and still not got to my ibex ground proper. We made a good start this morning but found our path completely under water owing to the height of the river. I was carried across a branch of the river eight times, shoulder high and when we got to Chutron, the head man said the road ahead was very bad, the greater part being 3 feet under water, so decided to stay here for the night.
This is a very famous little spot for Baltistan sportsmen as there are hot springs - sulphur and plain H20 - and it is ripping to go and lie in them at intervals. A great quantity of water comes from the springs which insures its being fresh, clean and very hot. The natives have divided it (the one at my camp) up into 5 different baths of about 8 feet square which are set in cobbles very nice and clean. It is always as well to get the bath nearest the spring. The flies here are again terrible, have been forced to lock up my tent and write my lamplight.
Letter from Hopwood today, his knee is almost well and he hopes to be able to go on to his nullah Chogolund in the morning. I hope to reach Arandu tomorrow (20 miles) in spite of the water.
An enormous glacier starts at Arandu. I believe the second largest in the world, over 30 miles long. If I go to Niamul this will have to be crossed, but I think not for Kero nullah. At this time of the year it is more of or less easy to tackle but when crossed with soft snow is very dangerous work.
It is very much colder here than Barndu and I regret to say the apricots are not nearly ripe.
Lumbardor asked for lotion for his eye. I made him some strong tea and sent it to him.
Sunday, 28th July - Chota Arandu
Leave early for a double march to Arandu. Change coolies at Doko, where two Balti children were brought to me to be dressed, one had a burnt hand and the other a scalded leg. The first of my patients will, I think, soon be better but I fear the second, a boy of about eight, will die - his wounds were in a horrible state but I cleansed them thoroughly with a strong solution of carbolic and left them looking more or less healthy. With hospital attention, he might get well but not in a place like Doko, where the flies and dirt are awful. Having only a limited supply of drugs I was unable to leave much to assist the poor kiddie. Condy s crystals came to the front again - I gave the father a small quantity of the above and told him to keep it thoroughly clean and always covered up to keep the flies off.
The road was very rough and there were numerous streams to cross which delayed my baggage so was forced to halt one village this side of Arandu.
As soon as my tent was up one of my permanent coolies came to me to have his foot dressed where he had cut it on a rock in one of the streams so on the whole I have had quite a busy day.
Hopwood s dak coolie called for cartridges and some lotion for this tiffin coolie s eye.
Passed Bisil nullah today on opposite side of river. The hills round this village are often good for Red Bear but no information as yet. Am going to make a great effort tomorrow to drive my baggage coolies as far as my nullah. It is really two day s marches, about 28 miles all bad going so I very much doubt if I shall be able to do it.
Sorry to say the village from here on, do not grow fruit.
Monday, 29th July - Camp below glacier in Kero Lungma
March first to Arandu (4 miles) and change coolies. Here the coolies simply fight for my baggage.
On the way to Arandu, the road was very bad and to finish up with, we had to ford a river close up to the huge glacier and the water was terribly cold, made one s legs ache again.
After leaving Arandu we had to cross the glacier which is about a mile wide. In places it is bare sheet ice and others covered with shingle, sand and huge rocks, the debris brought down by various avalanches. There are some very ugly looking cracks in the ice, 50 to 60 feet deep - to fall down one of these means a very cold grave. In one or two places it was tricky going, especially one sharp ridge of ice, which came to an edge at the top like a knife. The natives walked along this like walking a tight rope but I protested and made my Balti friend cut footholds all along (about 50 yards). On either side of this ridge there was a deep crack in the ice, so I was not really happy til I felt myself on rocks again at the other side.
At the foot of Kero nullah the natives had a khana and I read my book Pelham. Then on for a couple of hours fairly easy going and tiffin in a cave.
The river down this nullah is very bobbery and the water very muddy.
Light shower of rain at about 2pm. Arrive at half way halt and camp at 4pm (then 2 hours sleep). Dinner at 7pm.
Shikari brings news that the road ahead is blocked by an avalanche which has completely covered the path, so wants me to have a Europe morning till about 10am. He proposes sending the coolies at daybreak to cut a sort of path in the ice and snow which he thinks will be finished by 10am. This will, I hope, be my last obstacle, the ibex are all waiting for me just beyond and I mean to bag 4 or 5 of the best of them in quick time and then return for some other kind of animals, markhor, red bear etc...
I was pugs of a bear this morning but were some weeks old - still he may be waiting above with the ibex, who knows?
I rather take this abundance of snow and ice as a good omen - the animals will be lower and what is still more important the village sheep have not been able to cross the barrier.
In these large nullahs there are summer sheep farms or grazing depots. All the villages up the Shigar valley send their sheep and two or three coolies to look after them, to graze on the young grass. I am now camping close to one of these farms. This is what makes summer shooting so much more difficult as the ibex go up higher and higher to keep away from the sheep. If my idea is correct and the sheep have not crossed this barrier of ice, the shooting beyond may be very good indeed and moderately easy.
It is beginning to get very cold again up here.
Tuesday, 30th July - Head of Kero
Coolies go out very early to find the best way over the ice and improve it as much as poss. After a long sleep I breakfast and make a start at 10am. Sultana leads the way and by degrees we cross the glacier. It is about 3 miles wide by the path we took and is nearly all difficult going. Some parts sheet ice, others thawing snow, others rocks and shingle, but the worst of all are the huge cracks. In some places the stones are very difficult to walk on - they were originally carried down from the head of the nullah held together by snow and as the snow melts very gradually, so these rocks lean up against each other like a house built of cards. Consequently the weight of a man makes them fall in, in a manner which is now and again very disconcerting to the novice (FAD).
Beyond the ice, it is a very clean grassy nullah for about 8 miles and as I was congratulating myself on having crossed the last obstacle and that straight sailing would bring me to my final camping ground, anther enormous chunk of ice confronted me, so I there and then decided to have luncheon.
After lunch I read a few chapters from Pelham and smoked a cigarette, then having searched the surrounding hills with my telescope for bear, we make a final effort to reach camp. This obstacle proved to be very much easier than the last - we pitched camp just beyond it, in a very cosy spot at the foot of the two branch nullahs where I hope to get my ibex. After tea, a tub and a smoke, I wrote a chit to Pop , which I sent by a Balti coolie, together with 20 rounds of 303 and By wit of woman . Sultana had a walk around with the telescope but saw nothing.
Tomorrow is the last day of the month so must try hard to get my first ibex. It is 26 days since I left Kamptee.
Wednesday, 31st July
Start at 4am and tramp to top of right branch nullah. On the way saw fox cubs playing about in the rocks and further up came across the fur of red bear on a thorny shrub which looked as though the bear had been up the nullah during the night. Whilst we were talking it over we heard rocks falling into the river which Sultana said was the bear retreating so like a shot we all took up commanding positions where we could see every nick of the nullah but no bear came in view. It was a long and uninteresting day, no difficult climbing, mostly grass. At about 5pm we returned very down on our luck having seen nothing.
Feeling rather cheap - go to bed early.
Thursday, 1st August
At 2.30am my shikari came to call me. As a rule it is about one minute before he gets an answer out of me, but today to his astonishment I was wide awake, having been so most of the night. I was too bad to tramp up the left branch so told him to send the coolies out to see if there were any ibex to be seen. This he did and himself went out with the telescope to look round. I remained in bed.
Sultana returned at 4pm with no news. The coolies did not return, so I closed my tent and retired for another very bad night.
Friday, 2nd August
Feeling no better so remain in bed and wait for return of coolies. At 5pm they return having searched the whole nullah and seen nil. This news made my heart sink into my boots but Sultana cheered me up by saying that we had climbed past the ibex and we should find them lower down - this I was inclined to believe.
Retire once more for a bad night. Raining.
Saturday, 3rd August - Halfway up Kero coming down
Fed up with things in general, I decide to shift camp one march lower down the nullah. It rained the whole day. The coolies were sent on in advance to look out for ibex and returned with better news, in spite of rain and mist they saw 5 or 6 in the distance.
I was not feeling very energetic so marched very slowly and as soon as my tent was pitched went to bed.
Saturday, 4th August (note wrong day)
Still unwell and being a wet day stay in bed again. Towards evening I begin to feel myself again, but not as fit as I was by a long way. Bed.
Sunday, 5th August
Another misty wet day so have to wait. At about 8am mist shows signs of lifting so send coolies out to be in the spot when it becomes clear. Dress for first time and feel as weak as a kitten. Decide not to venture up that beastly hill until I know definitely if the ibex are there or not. 10am get letter from Pop . He has had good luck. On the 29th shot 3 ibex 37 , 42 and 42, the two last were only wounded and picked up the next day, dead, but the skins were completely destroyed by vultures. On hearing of his good luck my spirits again fell below zero. I sent for my shikari and told him that something must be done and done at once as time is getting short.
This is the first day of my second month. Am now feeling more or less well thanks to Somatose and other friends. It is so disappointing after getting into such good condition for the stalking to have all my efforts undone by illness. Oh! I should puff and blow up those hills tomorrow. I should be more at ease if I only knew where the ibex are, but as yet, haven t the foggiest notion.
Coolies return at 1pm having seen 20 small heads but not our shootable - so we leave this nullah, never to return again, I hope, in the morning. It was wasted 10 days of my leave and have seen nil. Tomorrow I am going to attempt a double march to Bisil (24 miles). Cannot afford to waste any more valuable time. They say there are three very fine ibex there, which I sincerely hope is true.
Monday, 6th August - Bisil Village
Start early over the avalanche feeling very feeble and short of breath. March on slowly till be come to the glacier at the foot of my nullah. Halt for lunch here, then cross the glacier, leaving Arandu on our right and cross the river which is under the ice. Took several photos of the glacier, showing our road. On the other side if the river (i.e. left bank) the going is terrible for several miles, then we drop down again onto the river bed for some distance. Here the river is exceedingly rapid and full of enormous lumps of ice which go bounding down at about 30 miles an hour. I sat here for about 5 minutes then on again up the sides of the hills. At about 2pm I could see Bisil and said to myself thank goodness we are nearly there but the road went in and out and over nullahs etc. in an extraordinary way and we didn t reach Bisil till about 5.30pm. Oh! I was so tired - too tired to sleep at first. 24 miles after 5 days in bed is too much of a good thing, especially when it includes an avalanche, a glacier and other very awkward places to cross.
As I was waiting for the coolies to come in I shot three pigeons for dinner. There were a great number of them but I was not in a mood for following them up, shall have a good go at them on my return visit. Bisil smells just like the sulphur pump house at Highgate. There are hot sulphur springs in one or two places and the water is allowed to run down the centre of the main roads of the village.
Tuesday, 7th August - Left arm Bisil nullah
Six o clock have breakfast in bed, then walk down to nearest sulphur spring and there sit for about 20 minutes. It was ripping. Water awfully hot and beautifully refreshing. Then return to camp, dress, scribble a line to Ethel and send it by runner who is going in for money (from Skardu). Start up nullah about 8am and try rifle on way at 200 yards. Two shots were sufficient, both in a sheet of notepaper opened out. Rather a tiresome march up and down the whole time. Arrive camp 4pm. Walk round with telescope and see one solitary ibex grazing very high above us. At last he lies down for the night and we are going to try to be there in time to call him in the morning. Being alone he is probably old and may be good head. Dinner and early to bed.
Wednesday, 8th August
Track up nullah and use telescope from high rocks. See 5 ibex right at the top of an enormous mountain which Sultana decides to climb. It took us several hours but eventually we got on level ground with the ibex and watched them some time lying in the sun just out of range. At 4pm they got up and began to descend in the right direction for me to bag a couple of them, but something or other turned them and over the crest they went never to be seen again. I then made my way down and arrived in camp at about 10pm nearly dead and awfully bad tempered. I told me shikari that I would never go up such a place again without my bed.
Thursday, 9th August
Go up same nullah with bed this time. See one ibex lower but don t get a shot. Sleep up nullah.
Friday, 10th August
Very early start, hoping to get the ibex marked down the night before but as daylight appears are hopes are dashed to the ground. Our bird has flown. See nothing more all day so retire to camp awfully bad tempered. No English mail.
Get chit from Pop, he has got his 4 and is going for Sharpu. Tomorrow I try to get another nullah and hope for luck this time. Not been well for the last ten days, awful indigestion.
Saturday, 11th August - Centre arm Bisil
Take small tent up another branch of nullah. Terribly bad going all the way, all over stones remaining on the top to ice and snow which comes down from the hills continually. Follow the tracks of a very large red bear most of the way up. Pitch camp at the far side of glacier and retire early for an early start in the morning.
Sunday, 12th August
Trek up those terrible stone and ice for about 3 miles and then use telescope and glasses but see, as usual, nothing. Then look for red bear but do not see him. Come across tracks of herd of ibex that were evidently traveling very quickly towards next nullah probably cheetah after them. Make straight back for small camp, pack up and return to big camp at foot of nullah.
Monday, 13th August - Right arm Bisil nullah
Start early for another branch of Bisil nullah where we arrive at 4pm. Heavy rain and mist. Coolies not satisfied with 5d, so go away without any pay at all.
Nothing in sight of camp.
Tuesday, 14th August
Heavy rain all night and hills all obscured by mist in the morning, so send out coolies to look around. I stay indoors until midday.
Coolies return having seen some ibex very high up, but mist still very bad, so stay in an write mail all day.
Wednesday, 15th August
Heavy rain all night and morning also dense mist on hills so again stay in. At 2pm see 60 or 70 ibex just above camp. Go closer with telescope and find them all small heads, does and kids. This looks rather more cheerful, it is quite a treat to know that there really are some ibex about.
The large bucks I hope to find as soon as the rain and mist clear off. Still raining.
Thursday, 16th August
Missed this day. Rain all day.
Friday, 17th August
Dak wallah leaves with mail and also films for developing.
Still very misty so do not start for up the hill till about 7pm. Having got to the top of right nullah rain some on very heavily and turns into snow storm later. We lie under rocks for about one hour then return to camp. Soon after getting down the snow stops and a fine day sets in. I again climb the terrible hill at 12am. I see tracks of very large ibex. Evidently only just gone along the hill. It certainly had been there since the snow so it was hard lives, not seeing him. I wanted to wait up the hill but Sultana was convinced that the storm would get worse instead of better. Search the hill but see nothing so return to camp.
Aundo who had been up the opposite hill reported having seen 5 large ibex on the maidan, so I arrange this for the following day s trip. Weather still very doubtful.
Saturday, 18th August
With much difficulty I get to the summit of the hill on the left of camp and for sometime my hopes are shattered but suddenly a large ibex comes into sight on the opposite hill just visible through the telescope. The place is inaccessible so hopeless trying to stalk him. Lie about watching him for some hours, then he descends for food at about 2pm out of sight. I send down for bedding and dinner having decided to follow him up the following day it he does not come my way. Never see him again so put down my bed as near his hill as I dare go. Sleep very well. Ripping moon.
Sunday, 19th August
Awake at 3am have a piece of dry bread and start up the rocks. At about 5am when quite light we see tracks of ibex only a few minutes old, they are just in front of us so the greatest care is necessary in stalking for fear of suddenly coming in sight out of range. However we get warmer and warmer until we reach a very steep nullah with a twist halfway up, down which stones occasionally come rolling so we are very near though out of sight. Suddenly my Balti shikari fell as though someone had shot him, his face was a picture of anxiety. He had seen the ibex quite close round the twist and as it afterwards turned out the wily ibex had also seen him and was off up the hill with all speed.
Sultana caught hold of me and dragged me up some most awful places until we came onto a steep grass bank for a few minutes or rather seconds we thought the beggar had got over the crest and out of our reach but all at once he seemed to spring out of the earth and was making for the crest as quickly as he knew how, as we were in the open and he could see us as well or better than we could him. I dropped at first sight and leveled my rifle as well as possible under the circumstances being so out of breath that I was literally gasping and thought it hopeless. To add to my discomfort I was clinging to a steep bank and could not get a rest for my rifle so had to shoot in a cramped crunching position. From the moment of first seeing the ibex we had a run of about 30 yards to get clear over the crest so I had no time to waste. I fired and he gave a jump then over the crest and away as we then thought but as we got closer we saw him trying to get up from where he had fallen about 4 or 5 yards on our side of the summit of the hill.
As he gave his last kick he rolled over and down the nullah about 400 yards. We tried to stop him as he passed but it is too dangerous a game, so let him rip. However he only went a short distance past us and then stuck against a big stone. He was quite dead.
Sultana then immediately commenced operations and offered his head I quick time, the other coolies began on the skin and soon we were on our way back to camp with a 39 inch head.
I shot him at 6am after a very long stalk. My tiffin coolie again came up with news - he had been down the hill when I fired and saw the other 4 ibex clear the hill and away into the next nullah. They must have just cleared the crest as I came up - bad luck to it - I might have bagged a couple more, though I think the one I got was a very lucky shot - 200 yards - running and I terribly blown and uncomfortable. I hope this will turn my luck. Tomorrow I am going to try to find the other 4 in the next nullah.
Dak wallah very seedy, so unable to do duty.
Received letter whilst up the hill - father and Ethel.
Monday, 20th August
Shikari goes off very early with telescope I follow with Balti and tiffin coolie but take a different route, consequently miss the shikari who, it afterwards turned out, had seen a very large red bear going up the hill about half a mile away and was looking for me everywhere to follow it. This is just my luck all over. Well having lost the bear we go on up the nullah to look for our four ibex see the large herd mentioned some days back but no shootable head, so after a long wait and quite sick of looking up at the bare rocks in rain, we return to camp.
Tuesday, 21st August
Again try the nullah on the right of camp. Late start owing to mist and rain. Find tracks of ibex half an hours march above camp and also panther pugs following which looks like more bad luck, however we continue our march up the hill and soon find the ibex tracks going back again and further up my Balti shikari spots a herd of ibex grazing on the maindan quite low down. We then proceed to make a very rapid stalk over awful shale falls and nullahs until we get the herd 200 yards below us. There is only one shootable head and whilst my shikari was pointing him out to me the beasts scented us and were away up the hill as fast as possible. I fired and knocked the big one off the rocks over which he was running but up he got again and as he was just disappearing over the crest I fired again end on shot which pushed him over and out of sight. My Balti coolies went down with glasses and telescope to find him but unfortunately returned without the head. They both saw him trying to get up the hill, every few yards stopping to lie down, he was them making for an inaccessible point where he will probably lie up and die, however my coolie said he is certain to get him in the morning, so I hope he will. He must be very badly hit in two places.
It was quite an exciting morning, there were tracks of panther or snow leopard , red bear and ibex so I hardly knew which to expect to meet, all or any were welcome.
I think my shikari wants to move to another branch in the morning, where he has got news of 5 others, two of which are reported to be 42 or 43 inches, so well worth going for. I wish I could get a really nice easy shot for a change both up to date have been running and in awkward places. I have ordered my coolie to tie up a goat in the nullah tonight for the panther should be happen to come our way. There are two red bears knocking around this nullah but I cannot come across them, worse luck.
Shot at ibex at 8.30 AM.
Rain from 12.30 PM til 3 PM then fine afternoon.
At 2.30 PM I interviewed a partially blind man who had come to me to be cured. Having thoroughly explained to him that his case was beyond even my skill as a medical man. I recommended him to stay in a dark room for a month.
Receive information from Chutron that there are 4 ibex there and from Barndu that crowds have over from Neoli where our Sahib has just shot 3 (all small).
The Sahib in Shigar nullah has shot a red bear.
Three coolies drowned in the river, the sheep skin boat turned over in midstream.
Have walked through all my puttee boots find 3 pairs not nearly enough for time of year.
Wednesday, 22nd August - Bisil Village (down)
Send Balti shikari out with field glasses to find ibex. I shift camp to Bisil village and await further kubber.
Shoot pigeons before tea and then retire early to bed.
Thursday, 23rd August - Doko Village
Called early for a move to Doko. Get news from Balti shikari that he has found dead ibex and is bringing the skin and all complete to Doko. Cross wood rope bridge over the river also take photo. Doko shikari gives kubber of very large ibex across the river in nullah 45 inches so he says so I am going to try my luck. He has had many escapes as several sahibs have shot at him and all missed.
Dak coolie arrives with two letters from Major Ford, one letter and 2 books from Dr. Husband, one letter from Ethel and some apples from Skardu and 100/-/-. Have run out of sugar and jam, so must send runner at once to Skardu.
Dr. H. has had a shot at red bear but failed to retrieve him. He recommends me to go up Bavra Pam and Lal Pam on my way over the Deosai. Says the red bears come strolling down the stream so all one has to do is to sit and wait. Flies awfully bad here.
Friday, 24th August - Sessal Nullah
Take kitchen tent and the inner fly off my own up Sessal nullah. Dak coolie leaves.
Hopwood has moved to Skardu. Awful pull up hill to my camp which is at 2nd sheep huts. Find mushrooms and rhubarb growing all round
Saturday, 25th August
Another terrible trek up to top of hill. Wait for one hour without seeing anything then spot about 30 ibex on opposite side, some grazing and others lying down. Watch them for many hours hoping they will take a certain nullah which is out of sight and where we can stalk them but as my luck would have it, they never got out of sight once and we had to retire to camp at 6.30 PM. They were then all lying down on the grass where we first saw them. There were 4 very large ones one I should say quite 45 inches.
Sunday, 26th August
Start at 2.30 AM. Very fine moonlight morning. Very surprised on reaching top of hill to find the ibex out of sight. Decide to go to closer and peep round corner of hill there find tracks of snow leopard. This accounts for the sudden disappearance of my ibex. This beastly leopard seems to haunt me this is the 3rd time he has sent my game away. However we see another herd of ibex on the opposite side of the next nullah, very far away, so decide to make for them. It is an awful march over snow and shale. We finally get to their rocks at 3.30 PM and I shoot 2 of them. One not stone dead but very seriously wounded, 38 and 35 . Have lunch and then make tracks for camp which is a very long distance. Sultana takes me by a short cut which is down the snow and ice in the centre of nullah very dangerous in places, but much care taken by F.A.D. I arrive back to camp without any boots on, having walked through my daily supply of grass shoes (2 pairs).
I have never before done this so must have covered a lot of ground. At any rate we were out from 2.30 AM til 6.30 PM and with the exceptions of a halt for lunch and one or two to look around with telescope, we were on the go all day.
Our beds were sent out to us having shot my two ibex I decide to go to camp so as to get down the hill in the morning.
Heads and skins and shikari and tiffin coolie not arrived.
Monday, 27th August - Doko Village (down)
Heads arrive safely 6.30 PM march down hill and over rope bridge for the 3rd time to Doko. Camp there for night, pay off Balti shikari etc. Lots of apricots.
Now for the straightest route to Deosai Plateau where I hope to encounter a red bear. No time to go for sharpu and no inclination to climb up another hill for a few days.
Tuesday, 28th August - Chutron (down)
Leave Doko at 8 AM. Dress skins for 2 hours before starting. Arrive Chutron at about 3 PM. All my followers bathe in the hot springs and also do my washing (not before necessary).
My cold is rather bad so do not go in the springs much as I should like to. Post coolie not returned so am without sugar jam and English mail, all the sweet things.
Wednesday, 29th August - Golapur (down)
Leave Chutron rather late 7 AM for Golapur nothing very exciting to report. Stop in an apricot orchard for about an hour they were very fine, having had more than enough I came across walnut trees, so commenced on them, they were just right and perfect. On again not quite so nimbly as before til I came to an apple orchard about 8 miles on, so of course tested them. No one asked for money in either place. A little further and I met my post coolie with jam and sugar, so I at once ordered lunch and tea combined. Sorry to say, no English mail. Arrive Golapur at 4.30 PM and eat walnuts and apricots til coolies come.
This is a marvelous valley, they can grow anything. Irrigation is all done by small canals and they never have any unexpected rain to spoil their crops. I should say it is a very rich valley wheat, broad beans, turnips, potatoes, peas, apples, pears, apricots, walnuts, melons, cucumbers and all other kind of vegetables imaginable grew here.
Letter from Pop .
Thursday, 30th August - Shigar (down)
Arrive Shigar after many small difficulties with the sheep skin boats at 4.30 OM and find Capt. Gates R.A.M.C. in camp there. We dine together and have a long chat. First white man I ve seen for 5 weeks. The Rajah of Shigar called and invited us to play polo the following day but both too anxious to get on.
Friday, 31st August - Skardu
Leave for Skardu rather late owing to some difficulty with coolies. Arrive Skardu about 5 PM.
Sunday, 1st September
Find my days are wrong have got two Saturdays running on the 3rd and 4th so am making the correction here.
Unable to get ponies so have to go on with coolies to Satpara and there change to ponies.
Halting here today too late to start and Sultana says there are heaps of things to arrange about. Visit stores and interview P.O. master. The Tehsildar pays be a visit.
Monday, 2nd September - Goat quarters, Satpara
Start with coolie transport to Satpara. Leave my camera behind and send tiffin coolie back for same. Sultana forces a man to carry my luncheon basket and afterwards finds out that he is a very big fellow in his village so has to be compensated with 4d. He then goes through some ceremony to regain his cast. Get ponies at Satpara and go on to the goat quarters. Loose our sheep on the way so the coolies have no meat and I have to live on chickens. Arrive at camp at 6 PM. Road very bad for 1 mile.
Tuesday, 3rd September - Ali Malik
Start early and have a very hard climb for about 4 hours. See ibex on hill above. Lunch on Maidan. Camp at Ali Malik.
Wednesday, 4th September - Karla Pani
Leave this camp prepared to shoot and tramp all over the hills. I fell into a river and had to change every stitch as it was freezing and rather cold.
Arrive Karla Pani very late and awfully cold.
Thursday, 5th September - Secabatchen
Send baggage on to Secabatchen. I and shikari go over hills for bear follow tracks for some miles and lose them, then try another direction and finally see a red bear digging a hole for himself so we go round the hill to get a closer shot. My shikari made an ass of himself and sent the bear off before I was nearly ready to shoot. He passed within 30 yards of my coolies and thence the over the hill and was seen no more. Had I been alone I should most certainly have got him, but as it was didn t even get a shot.
I have given my shikari a very long lecture on stalking though he knows more about it than I do. Still I m sure he was to blame today. The man with the gun ought to go first.
Red bears are not a bit what I pictured them - they are the colour of a stone and awfully had to see at a distance but make nice big targets. Everything was against us today, the wind was awfully strong and cold made our eyes water terribly and carried the scent to the bear.
Oh! If I could only have the day over again. My coolies caught a great many fish in the river. I had some for dinner. A1.
Friday, 6th September - Chota Deosai (down)
Leave Secabatchen to look for read bears on the way to the corner of Chota Deosai. My camp goes direct. Tramp all day and see nothing.
Camp just above the Chota Deosai.
Saturday, 7th September - Mopinan (down)
Have a long consultation with Sultana and finally decide to make straight for Bandipura for black bear as time is too short to go day after day with out much hope after red bear. Shoot 3 marmots on the way. Call at Minimarg and have a chat with telegraph official. Arrive camp Mopinan 5 PM. Pay off Satpara ponies.
Sunday, 8th September - Gurais (down)
Start with new ponies for Gurais. Meet hundreds of Comm. Ponies going to Gilgit with supplies. See polo at Gurais from opposite side of river. My camera behind with baggage (no letters).
Camp beyond Gurais near another camp. Mr. Auport, wife and child.
Monday, 9th September - Tragbal (down)
Pack up and make a good start. Meet Major Bishop, Gloucester Regt. who is making for Bakra Singh nullah near Gurais. Karima Malik is his shikari and informed me that Pop has got one red bear and one very large black bear. He is now waiting for B-S.
Near Gurais meet 5 ladies with numerous ponies loaded with kit full of all kinds, further on meet one man whom I spoke to, he is with the ladies all sketching 2 staying at Gurais and the 3 others with the gent going to paint some large mountain near Astore. (Nanga Parbat, I guess. Ed.) Arrive Tragbal and camp at 5.30 PM.
Tuesday, 10th September
Very early start down the pass to Bandipura. Send mail etc. Buy a congree in bazaar. Have tea with Sultana and son, then down to the boat and write letters, til my kit arrives.
Have my hair cut and shave. Set sail at about 12 AM but don t get far as a thunderstorm threatens and my boatman was nervous and put into a small fishing village on the lake.
The lake is edged by a kind of weed for a mile all round more in places, and the village people were all out in small khistees gathering the which is like a very tender hazelnut to eat. They dry them and make into flour. When the coolies came over it was amusing to watch all the boats make straight for home as fast as possible. Some of them were manned by one small boy or girl. Anchor here for the night. Mosquitoes awful.
Send heads and skins to old Sultana.
Wednesday, 11th September
Find myself in the Wular Lake again at 5 AM. Sleep and read til we arrive Baramula about 3.30 PM.
Unable to get ponies, so stay at Dak Bungalow for night. Send Aundo on to make all arrangements for beating in morning.
One lady and gentleman staying at bungalow.
This place is on the way Srinagar Pindi road, 20 miles nearer Pindi than Srinagar, so I shall go straight on from here.
Thursday, 12th September
Leave at 6 AM for Hoey Nullah. Very heavy rain so camp at Hoey Village no shooting today.
Friday, 13th September
Beat nullahs on left of camp. First beat no result. Second beat a roar, a rush one shot, a grunt that us all I remember and it was very quick the bear, a very large one came across the path. I was watching but was so very quick that I only got a very flying shot. Without taking any aim he was about six yards off when I fired and I hit him in the side which made him grunt and knocked him over behind a shrub, out of sight. I waited a few seconds watching an expecting him to go on if not dead but the cunning brute charged back through the beaters and struggled down the nullah. We hunted him for some time and then gave him up as lost leaving two coolies to follow him is possible, we went on to the next nullah. Towards the end of the beat a bear was announced, and I saw him coming down the small path for all he was worth, I was not able to shoot, however he was turned back by the stops and again passed me. This time I got a fair shot and dropped him. Aundo and two coolies skinned him on the spot. A few other beats which were not productive concluded the day.
Saturday, 14th September
Beat other nullahs all day but see nothing at all so retire to camp very dumpy.
For tiffin my shikari gave me some Indian corn muckie roasted, which was awfully good so I had some more for dinner.
Coolies return without seeing any trace of my wounded bear, so am afraid he is lost and gone.
Sunday, 15th September
Tramp all round the first days nullahs and a few small ones near camp, but see nothing though some coolies reported two bears having gone before me down the nullah. Return to camp very tired and bed early.
Monday, 16th September
Shift camp to Baramula just across river from Bungalow. Sit up for bear in evening. Tiffin coolie saw him but I did not as usual so when moon fails, return to camp for cup of cocoa and bed.
Tuesday, 17th September
Have a long Europe morning then write a few letters and tiffin. In afternoon read amendments to Y.A.T. and then start out for bear. Sit up in muckie field for several hours then go up the hill to hay stack where I eat muckie for a few minutes. My coolies hunt round for bear but find none. Get kubber of red bear.
Retire to camp 12.30 AM.
Wednesday, 18th September
Europe morning. Send coolies out to confirm kubber of red bear. Breakfast and tub at about 9 AM then write letters.
Coolies bring back no news so decide to go myself at night but rain prevents all shikar.
Thursday, 19th September
Beat two nullahs for red bear but see nothing so retire to camp for lunch and then on to the boat. Get quite a fine boat this voyage and find two novels on board which are very acceptable. The Price of a Wife (J.S. Winter), the Diamond Ship by Max Pain.
Read the former before going to sleep. A few mosquitoes hanging around.
Friday, 20th September
Europe morning and finish the Diamond Ship. Would write lots of letters but my paper has run out.
Saturday, 21st September
Still on boat and getting very near to Srinagar. Have just had a tub, shave etc. and feel quite clean.
Call at old Sultana s shop and see heads and skins, they all look very well. Order him to put them into tin lined box ready for me to take in the morning. Saw Pop s bear skin, it is enormous I should say almost a record.
Sleep on my boat.
Sunday, 22nd September
Go to do my shopping early. Find Danjiboy shut as it is Sunday. Visit Sultana and see my trophies packed then tiffin on boat and see my photos which are A1.
Get wire from Pop saying that he is coming at once and wants me to wait for him so I have cancelled my seat in Tonga and am waiting.