In the summer of 2010 I traveled with friends to the North of Pakistan to the beautiful Deosai Plateau, hoping to reach Skardu. We hired a jeep, packed some tents, and set off. The scenery was stunning, the open roads and mountain passes beckoned, the crispy parathas and delicious cups of chai sustained and warmed us in tea shops along the way.
Our trip was cut short due to flooding which caused landslides and washed away roads and bridges. I did not realize then just how much further damage the floods would cause all throughout Pakistan as the floodwaters moved down the Indus.
Our return journey involved pitching in to to help clear roads by hand, then abandoning our jeep altogether, walking, hitchhiking, scrambling over rock slides, and finally making our way to Gilgit where we tried – unsuccessfully – to catch a flight. After a few days of waiting, our original jeep driver came to the rescue and managed to drive us part way back. After more walking and hiring new vehicles we finally made it home. All in all it had been a great adventure.
Sadly, others were not so fortunate. The powerful mountain torrents that we had experienced became an inland sea on the southern plains. Approximately one-fifth of Pakistan’s population was affected by the floods of 2010, and nearly 2000 people died. The long-term effects and economic damage may never be able to be measured.