Water vs Earth

The Ganga, Yamuna, Alakananda and Mandakini. Over the last 10 days, I ventured the valleys. From 1000m – 3500m above sea level, we drove up and down the mountains, traveling over 1500km in the Garhwal Himalayas.

The journey, like many others, made me appreciate my geology class. Sophomore year, spring semester, I used to describe my engineering course work as a rock class and water class. At that point, I literally was taking the class because I had to. I mean, I already knew about metamorphic, sedimentary and igneous rock formation and who would want to go on a full-day field trip around the bay to look at rock structures? It was well after the countless hours of reading about earth processes that I began to appreciate the knowledge that I had taken for granted. Many times, not only on this trip, I have tried to identify the rocks that make up the landscape and feel some remorse that I cannot recall/name all the possibilities. If only I had my cheat sheet from our rock id test.

Call me an enginerd, but its cool to be able to understand how the mountains and valleys have formed. The recognition of the antiquity of the planet and the length of time it has taken for each feature to develop is quite humbling, while the understanding of the amount of change created by man within such a short time period is equally disturbing.

As I looked down at the river raging in the valley below me, I can’t help but reflect upon the ancient battle between water and earth. The “small” river which lies hundreds of feet from the peaks of the mountains is the force that has created the valleys in the first place. Gently, yet persistently wearing away at the seemingly hard, immovable blocks of rock, forging its own path. The rocks and boulder, strong and sturdy, attempt to block its path, but ultimately, its resistance will diminish to that of gravel and sand which will flow along the river’s path. It will take masses of water and years of resilience, but in the end, it will succeed. As wave upon wave crashes upon the rocks and mountain side, the water continues on its course. As drop after drop falls down to the earth, the rain takes with it, rocks and boulders down to the river bed. In this moment, it seems like the earth is the victor in the battle between water and earth, but ultimately, water will win the war.

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