The small town of Tatopani is situated anywhere from a four hour to a eight hour bus ride from Pokhara. Tatopani (hot water) is named for the natural hot springs that occur there. Just a few steps up from the rushing, muddy waters of the Kali Gandaki you can step into a clear steaming pool. This was the first town of our trek. From there, we hiked for the next five days, staying in Dana, Ghasa, Kalopani, Tukuche, and finally Jomsom.
Every morning at 6:30AM we eat breakfast and then head out for the day. The project associated with this part of the trek is the first portion of our Field Methods class grade. From departure at 7:00AM to arrival to our next tea house at 4:30PM we walk along the main road into the mountains looking at the road cuts and identifying the formations with a small break for dal-bhat (lentils and rice) at a tea house. Then from 4:30PM onward we have snacks and lectures and work on our homework. The eventual goals are to create a cross-section, geologic map, and 10 page essay on the formations we move through.
While we have been told that we are moving through the Lower Himalayan Sequence, the Higher Himalayan Sequence, and the Tibetan-Tethys Sedimentary Sequence, it is difficult to determine which specific formation we are in. Everyone so far has developed some level of animosity towards phyllite… as we spent a few days in complete confusion walking through seemingly identical stretches of phyllite.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a true geology class if we weren’t occasionally derailed by mineral hunting! For a small portion of the Higher Himalayan Sequence, which contains mostly gneiss, there are abundant garnets and kyanite. I have to admit that the garnets are nowhere near as large as on Catalina Island 🙂 but still there’s nothing like trying to carefully pry out pristine dodecahedrons and blades of blue kyanite.
Riley and I are the one two person group for this project, so we work together to observe and interpret the rocks as we go, writing down measurements and mineralogical information in our field notebooks. I am already almost through my first field notebook!
While I usually pride myself on my time management, I really failed on that front with this project! After our last day of trekking, we arrived in Jomsom and had one and a half days to complete our geologic map and cross-section, and to write the essay on the depositional and metamorphic history of these three sequences. This resulted in me beginning work at 7:00AM on the first day and physically never leaving my work table in the dining room for the next thirty hours except for one thirty minute nap! But wow is this finished project satisfying!
Time for a couple days off… check back in soon!
Be well, be joyful,