The weather in and around Langtang Park is relatively dry except for two distinct periods January to February when it snows, and June to August, when skies are heavy with monsoon rains. These periods of wet induce landslide processes that can be seen across the landscape in skid patterns. Change arises in small- and large-scale movements that can impede daily movements as warmer, drier weather motivates herds to ascend to higher elevation, within the expansive high meadows that provide summer habitat.
Before embarking on a description of the events that brought me to Langtang, it is worth noting the draw of Nepal as a popular destination due to the physiographic variations of the land that etches daily life. The people and plants of Nepal are engraved with the consequences of rapid transformation, from high altitude grazing, foraging lifestyles, and terraced farmlands developed across centuries of pastoralism.
3In the 21st century pastoral settlement remains active and dynamic as since Nepal’s borders were closed to the rest of the world until the 1950’s. Politically, the Himalayas traverse Nepal, Bhutan, a part of Pakistan, the Tibetan (Xizang) Autonomous Region, and northeastern India.
Dane Carlson, who supported my research, works on landscape in Nepal with
a focus on pastoralism. See Dane Carlson,
“Agencies of the Present: Landscape-Making
and the Herders of Lower Mustang, Nepal,”
Landscape Research 47.3 (2022): 300–15.
In Nepal, sacred fossil ammonites are called shaligram. In Hindu and Buddhist ritual practice, shaligrams are divine beings, and intimate kin with families and worshippers. Geologically, shaligram ammonites are fossilized forms of prehistoric mollusks that lived in the shallows of the Tethys Sea between 400 million and 65 million years ago, where the Himalayas stand today. Finding sea fossils in the high Himalaya reveals the geological story of plate tectonics and continental drift. Spirituality and geology find different approaches to sacred meaning, between humankind, climatic forces, and topographic evolution.