Don't cry for me Zhada County

22 August 2010. Route 219

We are driving towards Lhasa (still four days away) today, having wrapped up our work in the basin.

Striped basin sediments gave way to misty metamorphic basement rock as we ascended the basin margin; clouds and fog enveloped the colorful peaks of the Aylari Ranges.

Descent into the adjacent valley takes us to Menshi, a small village where Pleistocene fossil horses were found last year. We might stop to examine the Quaternary "overburden" (as Neogene paleontologists often unlovingly refer to Pleistocene sediments) for fossil clues.

On the road again...

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Will Downs memorial

In 2006 we set up a memorial site for our friend Will Downs, who had a life-long wish of working in the Zhada Basin but passed away without ever setting foot in Tibet. This year our attempt to revisit that site failed due to road problems. Yesterday we erected another memorial with Tibetan prayer flags, this time overlooking the town of Zhada, and retold some our favorite Will Downs stories. Of this year' team members, Guangpu and Xiaoming can share many of the memorable moments about Will.

By mid afternoon, a violent thunderstorm/hail caught us before we had a chance to escape. We were all more or less drenched but otherwise left unharmed (photo of peeping out a make-shift raincoat). Was Will displeased with our selection of wine?

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Sometimes things just work out

Our original plan of camping at the Xiangze Farm was quickly dashed because a flash flood had damaged a bridge. We had no choice but to activate our plan B, which is to camp at a promising site we briefly visited in our 2007 season.

We are not disappointed. In our first day, everyone got something, including dental and postcranial materials of gomphothere elephant, deer antlers, horse teeth, etc.

As usual, a light rain starts in the evening, accompanied by a nice rainbow and a sunset that looks like a "V".

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Good Morning India

17 August 2010. On route to Xiangzi

We rode out from Zhada at 0900 this morning. We are driving to Xiangzi, in the northwest corner of the basin.

We will camp there for a few days, and prospect for fossils in that area.

The road to Xiangzi is long but scenic; along the way are mountains of the Indian Himalayas in the distance. Pakistan is also just around the corner!

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