While hiking along the narrow paths through the deserted landscape of Spiti Valley, Amit, Tony and I became totally obsessed with all the bits and pieces of marine fossil littering the hiking trails, a testament to a prehistoric sea covering this area.
Of course, we each wanted to discover our own perfectly preserved fossil. After a while, we could not walk past a single black, egg-shaped rock without cracking it open to possibly reveal some extinct ocean-dwelling arthropod or mollusk.
I soon was in gold rush mode, constantly scanning the path for likely treasures. It was a compulsion I couldn’t resist. My eyes were so fixed to the ground that the landscape passed by without me noticing any of its beauty. But I wasn’t the only victim. Amit and Tony had fallen way back and were hunkering on the ground cracking open rocks at random.
Our three-hour walk to the next village had already turned into a five-hour treasure hunt. We weren’t even close to our destination and still had to cross a 4,800-meter pass. Just as I was slowly realizing how much further we had to hike and was starting to shake myself out of it, I tripped over a small, perfect egg-shaped stone.
Desperately trying to split it open, I kept bashing it with a larger rock I had picked up at random. But it didn’t budge. One last forceful blow only shattered the larger rock I was using as my tool. When I was about to throw it aside, I noticed some reflection out of the corner of my eye and immediately realized that the dull rock had given way to a gorgeous crystallized fossil of a sea creature complete with tail.
I had found my treasure for the day and was now happily strolling along admiring the barren yet impressive scenery while Tony and Amit were still digging through rubble trying to find theirs.