The Nubra Valley was scenic, but not scientifically useful to me. To study hypoliths, you need a place where rocks stay still long enough for cyanobacteria to grow underneath them. In the Nubra Valley everything is either vertical or in a flood plain. It’s much too active geologically. No rock stays put for long.
Lucky for me, we went south to Sumdo Lake, Tso Moriri, the salty Tso Kar, and 17,000-foot Tanglang La. “Tso” mean “lake” just like “la” means “mountain pass”, so you can tell there are a lot of lakes here. On a stony ridge overlooking Sumdo Lake (which is also called Khatsang Kara or Kiagar Tso on maps – confusing), I found green cyanobacteria growing under white stones and a great place to leave some marble tiles.
Because this place is so remote and difficult to get to, I held back two dozen tiles and put them on the shoreline of Tso Kar in a place where the soil is moist from groundwater being drawn up to the surface and evaporating. It is salty, moist, and a little easier to get to than Sumdo Lake. So I have artificial hypoliths in two locations in Ladakh. In a few years time somebody I am traveling with will check on their progress.
I also collected a dozen natural hypoliths and used my Li-Cor quantum radiometer to measure how much light is getting through to their undersides. It appears that (as in California and Namibia), cyanobacteria here can thrive on a little less than 1/10th of one percent of direct sunlight.
So, I saw a lot of sights and visited a lot of schools (four total) but I also got some original science done.
This is my last post from India.