4 September 2008, Keluke Lake, Qinghai Province
Today was a short day, allowing me to put up more photos.
Our gasoline-powered water pump is broken; we collected 120 30-lb. bags of sediment from the Huaitoutala area, and transported them to the lakeside. Without a working pump we returned to Delingha to get the pump fixed.
Some of you asked about what the present day environment is like here; we are working in a highland basin with nearly all localities above 8,000 feet elevation. The landscape is overall as you would see in the Mojave Desert in southern California. One major difference is that there are no trees (or tall shrubs) anywhere near shoulder height. The plants are short and compact, probably a common appearance to preserve water.
There is almost no flowing water besides two large lakes in the basin; somehow, the mosquitoes still find enough moisture to proliferate, making them the most common insect here (yippie...)
In terms of larger wildlife, the Keluke Lake is frequented by shoredbirds of all sizes; from large ducks to terns to sandpiper-sized critters. Large unidentified vultures are often seen circling overhead during mid-day. Sand lizards are very common, and run under your foot with every hill you hike.
For people interested in large predators and their prey (no bias here), the most common carnivoran here is probably the fox (possibly red fox, Vulpes vulpes). Their tracks and scats are everywhere. Once in a while I find remnants of rabbits, antelopes, and pigs in the wash between hillsides. Wolves are a rare sight now, but they still exist here.
[a partial rabbit foot some carnivore had chewed on; it was too fresh to put on my pack for good luck]
[a complete horncore embedded in sandstone]
[a partial elephant tusk fossil, about 1.5 feet in length]
[another elephant tusk, very broken]
[partial fossil fish skeleton, note vertebral column]
[making a field plaster jacket]
The morale stays high as we prepare to enter Eboliang in a few days, by far the most desolate place we will work in across the entire basin. More to come on that...