It is hard to know what to write about Kashmir. The communications blackout for mobile phones, internet, and most local news media has continued since my post two weeks ago. Most of the international news media has moved on to other stories so Kashmir isn’t making it into the headlines much. But Kashmir remains on my mind as I wonder how things are there, how my friends might be doing, and what may happen for the future.

I’ve found myself going back through my earliest pictures from Kashmir, from my first summer when I got to experience the mountains, streams and lakes that offer such scenic beauty for trekking. Back then that beauty still had plenty of reminders that all was not completely normal in Kashmir. There were lots of military checkpoints just to get to the trekking routes, military scout groups came through our camp, and we even had militants come into the camp too.

Kashmiris are very proud of the natural beauty of Kashmir. Some people say it is like the Switzerland of Asia. I don’t think comparisons are always helpful or necessary. Kashmir is majestically beautiful in its own way and I enjoyed that sense of awe and wonder you get when taking in the beauty of creation. Yet it is unfortunate that much of Kashmir’s beauty hasn’t always been able to be experienced or explored due to the instability that has plagued the region. And I don’t mean only by outside tourists, but also by the Kashmiris who enjoy hiking in the mountains but don’t want to get caught up in conflict between military and militants.

As I’ve looked through my photos from that first summer, these are some that brought back a smile and remembrance of enjoying the beauty of Kashmir.