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All afternoon the trail continues up the Kali Gandaki, which rushes down from Mustang and Tibet onto the Ganges plain; because it flows between the soaring massifs of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, both more than 26,000 feet in altitude, the Kali Gandaki has the deepest canyon of any river in the world.

“… So far from the nearest sea, I am taken aback by the sight of a purple land crab, like a relict of the ancient days when the Indian subcontinent, adrift on the earth’s mantle, moved northward to collide with the Asian land mass, driving these marine rocks, inch by inch, five miles into the skies … The rise of the Himalaya, began in the Eocene, some fifty million years ago, is still continuing: an earthquake in 1959 caused mountains to fall into rivers and changed the course of the great Brahmaputra, which comes down out of Tibet through north-eastern India to join the Ganges near its delta at the Bay of Bengal. All the great rivers of southern Asia fall from the highest country in the world, from the Indus that empties into the Arabian Sea east to the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, the Mekong and the Yangtze, and even the great Hwang Ho that pours eastwards across all of China into the Yellow Sea; since they come from the Tibetan Plateau, these rivers are much older than the mountains, and the Kali Gandaki forged its great abysses as the mountains rose.”

 

— Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard

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