After the fog halted our coring efforts for the day, we took a few minutes to walk around in the clouds before heading back to camp (first panorama). The next day, we got up early and headed back over a nearby pass to start our long descent out of the mountains back to the Karnali River valley (second panorama).
Window through the Clouds back to Camp, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x50″)
Path over the Pass, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x52″)
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).
Eroded Pass and Clouds, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x62″)
Flowers on the Pass, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x72″)
Stream Valley and Horses on the Pass, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x64″)
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.
Fog and Trees on the Pass (2), far western Nepal (16″x47″)
Descending out of the Clouds, far western Nepal (16″x47″)
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.
Stone Path and Trees in the Fog, far western Nepal (16″x48″)
Fog and Trees on the Pass, far western Nepal (16″x48″)
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.
Sunlight through Morning Fog, far western Nepal (16″x52″)
Fog Creeping through the Trees, far western Nepal (16″x54″)
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).
Ponds and Trees in the Cloud Forest Camp, far western Nepal (16″x72″)
Thornbush Wall and Cloud-Draped Cliffs in the Distance, far western Nepal (16″x50″)
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.
Approaching Clouds down Valley, far Western Nepal (16″x54″)
Stone Wall in the Cloud Basecamp, far Western Nepal (16″x46″)
We passed through rice fields, crossed rivers, and finally drove up a steep, narrow dirt road into the rhododendron cloud forest. After establishing a camp at the end of the road, we spent a few days studying lakes formed by landslides a few centuries ago. Here is a panorama of one of the smaller rivers and steep hillsides. Also, a view from our camp of the surrounding town and boulder-covered landscape at the end of the road.
Steep Hills, River, and Boulders, far western Nepal (16″x41″)
Village at the End of the Road, far western Nepal (16″x75″)
While doing field work in far western Nepal, I enjoy watching the pre-monsoon rice field planting and flooding. Farmers till the fields then build complex rock walls to divert water from streams and rivers to irrigate the crops. As the rice sprouts, vibrant greens begin to cover the valleys and hillsides. While we stopped to fix a flat tire, I took a few panoramas of the nearby fields.
Terraced Hillside, far western Nepal (16″x39″)
Greening Fields, far western Nepal (16″x44″)
We cored a lake near Bhimdatta then drove for a day or two along cliffside highways into the Himalayan foothills. The heavy, pre-monsoon air hung around us as we unloaded the trucks and sweated our way up the steep hillside. The river was black with sediment from the nearby rains, and the air was hazy with humidity.
Crossing the Swollen River, far Western Nepal (13″x59″)
Tower in the Field, far Western Nepal (13″x56″)
Path through Terraced Fields, far Western Nepal (16″x64″)