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Lake Basecamp

The final push up the river valley and a steep ravine to our lake basecamp would have been easy at 5,000 feet, but near 14,000 feet, carrying a heavy pack up a hill can be exhausting. However, the relatively short hike to our campsite was worth the view- a lake basin surrounded by constantly shifting clouds draped over craggy peaks near 16,000 feet. Although these ‘hills’ are insignificant by Nepali standards, for North Americans doing field work in the area it was a beautiful sight. The lake levels were noticeably lower this year- a few warmer and drier seasons had left lake levels well below where they had been on our previous trip two years ago (see exposed shoreline in second panorama).

firstlookatthelakenepalFirst Look at the Lake, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x93″)

exposedshorelinerocksandcampnepalExposed Shoreline Rocks and Camp, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x58″)

Camp in the High River Valley

After descending from the pass and high plateau, we continued up a river valley and made camp on the bank near sunset. Rhododendron bushes and small trees lined the hillsides at the edge of tree line, and landslide debris was piled on the hillsides (first panorama). Another rainstorm rolled through around sunset, and I was able to photograph a few grazing horses on a ridge top in front of the clouds (second, third panoramas).

landslidedebrishillsidenepalLandslide Debris and Hillside, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x55″)

horsesstormcloudsonridgenepalHorses and Storm Clouds on the Ridge, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x32″)

streamstormcloudshillsidenepalStorm Clouds over Hillside and Stream, near Jumla, Nepal (13″x53″)

Cloudy Pass

We rested at a high plateau on the pass near ~14,500+ feet. Horses and sheep appear to graze at this elevation, and the soil appears to be eroding rapidly (first panorama). The landscape is mostly covered in shades of brown, but occasional patches of yellow wildflowers seem to flow through dry stream beds (second panorama). On our way down from the plateau, we passed a herd of horses grazing near 14,000 feet (third panorama).

erodedpassandcloudsnepalEroded Pass and Clouds, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x62″)

flowersonpassnepalFlowers on the Pass, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x72″)

streamvalleyhorsesonpassnepalStream Valley and Horses on the Pass, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x64″)

Jumla Region Trek, Part 2

We ate a quick breakfast, packed our tents, and descended into a fog-draped valley before continuing up a steep, forested hillside. We climbed through the pines along a mountain stream, passing the occasional logging camp. The scents of cook fire smoke and pine resin wafted through the forest. After hiking most of the day in the trees, we ascended a last few steep slopes and popped out above tree line in an open meadow. We stopped and made camp in this valley (first panorama) to allow ourselves to acclimate to the higher elevation. The next morning we rose early and started over the 14,000+ foot pass (second and third panoramas). At this elevation, clouds surrounded us throughout most of the day.

 

campinfoggyvalleynepalCamp in the Foggy Valley, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x83″)

cloudypathoverthepassnepalCloudy Path over the Pass, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x57″)

patcheslightthroughcloudsonpassnepalPatches of Light through Clouds on the Pass, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x75″)

Jumla Region Trek, Part 1

After crossing over a small mountain range, we met the trucks in the Karnali river valley and stayed over night in Manma before continuing the next morning to Jumla along a one-lane road along a sheer drop off. We rested a day then re-packed the coring and backpacking equipment and started our trek to a series of lakes around 14,000 feet. On our first day, we hiked east along the Karnali river and took shelter in a small sheepherder hut as a pre-monsoon thunderstorm passed (first panorama). We then continued over a small pass and camped near 10,000 feet (second panorama) before starting our ascent to the lakes in earnest.

thunderstormfoothillsfieldsnepalThunderstorm over Foothills and Fields, near Jumla, Nepal (13″x69″)

camponthesaddleCamp on the Saddle, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x77″)

Hiking over the Pass in Fog, Part II

We crossed into the Karnali River drainage in the fog at ~3,500m elevation. After descending just a few hundred meters, the mists cleared, and we were able to see down valley. The descent was slippery, but as the rain stopped, the land leeches retreated and the hiking was relatively easy.

fogandtreesonthepass2Fog and Trees on the Pass (2), far western Nepal (16″x47″)

descendingoutofthecloudsDescending out of the Clouds, far western Nepal (16″x47″)

 

Hiking Over the Pass in Fog

The pre-monsoon rains filled the rivers with water in the valleys; worried about the rising water, the truck drivers left us before the rivers became impassable and drove around the mountain range to meet us in the Karnali River valley near Manma. After coring the mid-elevation lakes, we packed our field equipment and started our multi-day journey through the mountains to meet the rest of the trucks. A slippery stone path led us over a pass through the dripping branches, wet leaves, and land leeches. Occasional dog barks and other sounds echoed through the fog as we walked, but the fog obscured any views of the surrounding countryside.

stonepathandtreesinthefogStone Path and Trees in the Fog, far western Nepal (16″x48″)

fogandtreesonthepassFog and Trees on the Pass, far western Nepal (16″x48″)

Fog Rolling into Camp

After the clouds moved up the steep valleys below our tents, the fog crept through the Dr. Seuss-like trees and over the campsite, eventually blanketing the ridge top and  shrouding the morning sunlight.

sunlightthroughmorningfogSunlight through Morning Fog, far western Nepal (16″x52″)

fogcreepingthroughtreesFog Creeping through the Trees, far western Nepal (16″x54″)

 

Lakes and Town in the Cloud Forest

More panoramas of our campsite from our two days coring lakes in the cloud forest in the Himalayan foothills. After dinner, I liked to sit and watch the clouds lift and lower over the cliffs in the distance (second panorama).

pondstreesinthecloudforestcamp

Ponds and Trees in the Cloud Forest Camp, far western Nepal (16″x72″)

thornbushwallcloudscliffsbw

Thornbush Wall and Cloud-Draped Cliffs in the Distance, far western Nepal (16″x50″)

Basecamp in the Clouds

As I mentioned in last week’s post, we established a camp at the end of the road in the Nepali rhododendron cloud forest and stayed for three nights to do a preliminary study on a few land slide lakes above our camp. Stone walls covered in thorn bush branches surrounded potato fields next to my tent (second panorama). I enjoyed sitting on one of the many grey boulders, watching the clouds fill the valleys then creep up the mountainside (first panorama), but working conditions were often chilly and wet, and the land leeches wriggled out of the ground when it started raining.

approachingcloudsdownvalley

Approaching Clouds down Valley, far Western Nepal (16″x54″)

stonewallcloudbasecampfarwesternnepal

Stone Wall in the Cloud Basecamp, far Western Nepal (16″x46″)