Khare (4/1/2019)

4/1/2019 Khare (4,900m)

We made it to Khare, the highest tea house village before we set off for the climb of Mera proper. From Khote, we followed the Hinku River heading up the valley for two days of hiking. Unlike the pass, the valley was not full of snow and so we were able to take John's long-term ecology measurements. We took ground control points to see how the vegetation has changed since John last took measurements here 10 years ago. This essentially entails stopping at regular intervals to identify what plants are growing in the area. Botanist, Eric, and botany students, Mehindra and Benup, were invaluable for this work. The full team also pitched in to help the work move quickly so we weren't on the trail unduly long. Chris and Morgan measured the slope and aspect; James took reference photographs. All along the way, the human geography team continued interviewing local people about impacts on their lives - whether tourism, climate change, civil war, etc.

As we neared the town of Khare, the river became frozen over, but you could still hear the water flowing underneath. We're at the source of the river now at the base of the Mera glacier. It's cold here; most of us are in full down layers inside the tea house. We have one rest day and then will set out on our climb of Mera Peak (6'470m) to collect snow samples.