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Breaking Camp

Late September in a herders camp midway between the Limi Valley and the Tibetan border. A small group of herders from Halji stayed up here over the summer to look after the yaks. The previous day, two dozen people had arrived from Halji. They came to help break camp and shift tents, possessions, and cattle down for the winter.

By coincidence, we were coming back from the Tibetan border with an empty truck. The owner of the vehicle, a man from Halji himself, was happy to offer his fellow villagers a lift. Hastily, tents were taken down, utensils sorted and possessions packed. The unexpected free ride, they said, would spare them much of the drudgery involved in shifting camp.

It was shortly after sunset and the temperature was falling quickly. We were invited for tea and fresh momos. Some of the herders planned to come down with us and take care of the goods while most would stay back for another night and follow with the animals the next morning.

The people of Limi used to own large numbers of yak, sheep, and goat. During winter, they were grazed on pastureland across the border in Tibet. Contrary to the Himalayan valleys and the area around here, the arid, windswept plateau further north remains largely free of snow. However, Limi gradually lost access to these winter pastures and herd sizes had to be reduced substantially.

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