Jul 17 2009

Getting high to Wenhai

Blue T shirtSo after the rain stopped, I set out from Lijiang with Peter. We were heading for Baisha and thereafter upwards onto the mountain range to the west. With the awesome Jade Dragon Mountain range to our north east. Our intended stopover was a village by a lake called Wenhai. The weather again threatened but for the most part held off as we made our way through dense forest above a monastery/tea house/farm at 2600m. In time we emerged onto a dirt road, a very, very long and winding dirt road. It meandered some 12k up the side of the mountain topping out at 3150m with a view down to the lake and eventually the village of Wenhai. Here we were bound to find a warm welcome, some food and a bed for the night… As we made our way into the village there seemed no sign of guest houses or inns, but after asking a group of farmers – chatting together at the end of the day – we were directed to a restaurant – wow, what luck!

Before committing however, I took a look around the village – and stopped at the local shop – think Londis at 3100m in the sky. So then on to our rural welcome, this was great… a restaurant, how lucky ๐Ÿ™‚ (Wenhai Village 3050m 12 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 12 2009

A route with no map

I have met Peter at breakfast in the Well Bistro. We bumped into each other first in Dali and here he is again. He is American and he’s been teaching English in Taipei. With three months off before a new post in Beijing he is travelling around. Peter is keen to avoid taking a bus with everyone else to Tiger Leaping Gorge too and we agree to do the trip together. He will come to my meeting with Lily.

Lily is very helpful indeed. She shows us a hand drawn map of the area around the Jade Dragon Mountain and points out a route from Baisha up to a lake called Wenhai (3100m) and then over a ridge (3800m) dropping down towards the road and ultimately the usual start point for the gorge. We discuss this trip and she assures us we need a guide. Maybe we can do it with the help of her map I ask? No she replies, these maps are just for the use of her guides. Oh. Anyway, I think, maybe going with a guide wouldn’t be so bad, so how much will this 3 day trip be? Her price is a little high for me I explain the following day, but she is welcome to come and explore the mountains in the UK anytime, borrow my maps and if she needs me to guide ๐Ÿ™‚

With Lily’s route in mind (and now delayed by a further day) I put on my poshest English demeanour and head to the Grand Lijiang Hotel business centre in the hope I’ll be able to print google maps. It is time consuming and frustrating, but it gives me what I need. Peter meanwhile has visited Chang (Joachim’s helpful Chinese friend in Lijiang – but who speaks no English). Chang adds helpful advice to our route including that we will doubtless find a guide if we want one en route. It is Saturday and this has taken most of the day, but we will head off on Sunday – with bags of helpful advice, tips on where to stay, where to find guides and even maps of a scale where you can read the contours. Thanks Lily and thanks Chang. (Lijiang 11 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 6 2009

A truck, some mud, Little Dog and me

It takes nearly two hours and seemingly endless telephone negotiation (mostly by Xiao Bing with interceptions from the very loud and forceful mountain warden’s wife, the most notable of which, “no not you, you fool, your father!” when demanding someone sends a vehicle to take us all down the 2 hour mud road). Eventually we hear the reassuring sound of a horn and we head back up to the road.
Great.
They’ve only gone and got the truck stuck in the mud. Bloody marvellous. It’s raining again.
There is much heaving, huffing, puffing and general to do.
Just to recap, now the party going down the mountain has grown still further: Here’s the cast:
Xiao Bing, the Master, DanDan, ShweShwe, the mountain warden’s wife, the mountain warden’s son (in a basket), Little Dog and me. Oh and the three guys who have arrived and got the truck stuck.
We get the truck free, we all board. Strangely although DanDan and I are paying for this ride, it is he and I along with Xiao Bing, the Master and Little Dog who have to travel in the back of the truck. Anyhow off we set. Bouncing (a lot) through the rain and mist, heading for the foot of the mountain. Along the way Little Dog finds a safe haven and rests on my boot. At the small village half way down we are given sweets to keep us going – the Master takes charge of doling these out. It is a strange journey and it takes ages. Little Dog cradled at my feet and the Master standing with his brass staff at the front of the back of the truck (if you know what I mean) looking through the gap above the truck’s cab. It seems endless, but finally we are down and on the level road alongside the lake. Here we are going to find the boat to take us all to Dali – hurrah!
PS – there was no boat. We waited another hour in a village and ended up back on a public bus – having said goodbye to the mountain warden’s wife and the mountain warden’s son (in a basket). The bus took us back to Dali – and we all said our goodbyes, me, Xiao Bing, DanDan, ShweShwe, the Master and Little Dog (in a bag). The end of an extraordinary little trip. God I’m tired. (Dali 5 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 6 2009

A change of plan

It is night and it starts to rain. Then it gets heavier until I think even my awesome little tent will give way. The rain doesn’t stop and the wind becomes stronger. In deep slumber about 8am and still very tired, I hear ‘Halloโ€˜. It is the Master and DanDan (who is staying with his girlfriend at the Master’s place). They have come to check we are OK. Put off by the incessant pounding rain I stay in my tent, until after half an hour I know I will have to get up. They have been chatting with Xiao Bing and as I appear they are just about ready to leave. I could have done with some more sleep – maybe the rain would have stopped before I had to come out and face it. Xiao Bing later agrees, he wasn’t ready for earloy morning visitors either – but their concern was well meant. We busy ourselves with food – more boil in the bag and some tea (PG tips from home, in the province famous for it’s black tea – hahaha). The rain calms down and we pack everything away and soon the Master reappears. I have taken a look over the ridge nearby on my walk yesterday evening and I can see that if we head in a S. Westerly direction over the hill we will hit the lake. Originally our plan was to walk from here onto the neighbouring Chicken Foot Mountain itself, but it is clear (or rather not) that the rain is here to stay, so there will be nothing to see. The Master says he and the two staying with him also want to head down the mountain, but he advises against my chosen route, saying it is very likely we will lose our way. He is insistent we come down with him. The two staying with him DanDan and his girlfriend ShweShwe are keen to reach Dali during the day. So we agree to all go together off the mountain. Soon, we are back at the Master’s house, he has a small dog that he calls Little Dog. He gets all his monk stuff together in a rucsac and brings a brass staff with him. The dog is coming with us too, in a bag, with a small sachet of milk powder in the bottom to keep him happy. So we start to trek down the mountain and after about an hour and a half we raech the mountain warden’s house again… Here we are going to call for transport. I have a feeling this will be another epic. (Mu Xiang Ping 5 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking. Heol Senni, Brecon, Wales.

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jul 6 2009

Sacred mountain epic journey

Right, so I found a local guy – who is a martial arts instructor, but knows the mountains – he is called Xiao Bing. He and I set off for a sacred mountain on the opposite side of the Erhai Lake (40K long, north to south, with Dali on the western shore). We are heading for Mu Xiang Ping (otherwise known as Chicken Foot Lotus Mountain). At the start of the day he says he wants to save me money so we will take a bus, then find our transport into the mountain itself. All sounds fine so far, so we head off to the main road and find a public bus. It’s 8am and the bus is full of local people going to work. It is packed and there are lots of flies. It stops a lot, the road is a dirt track in many places. We are on the bus for an hour and fifteen minutes, all the way to a town at the other end of the western side of the lake. Here we stop and Xiao Bing negotiates a ride in a ‘tuctuc’ (you know, 3 wheeled motorbike with curtains and seats behind the driver). We pay 4 yuan (about 30p). The motorbike takes us along the north side of the lake along a busy road to the next town. We get out of the motorbike. Now it is ten o’clock, so we’ve been travelling for two hours. Xiao Bing recommends we buy food; I leave this to him and he gets two pots of extremely spicy noodles from a shop across the road. Now he negotiates with another driver who has a small four seater van (with very thin wheels and tinted windows). The price to take us to the village high in the mountain is 200 yuan, he says it will take two hours…
We set off and soon we are on a narrow muddy mountain road that snakes up and up into the hill. We pass local farmers tending their fruit crops, the driver stops to chat with them and they offer him a stop for tea… but we continue. We pass a small village, he asks directions, we continue. Three times we stop and there are debates between the driver and Xiao Bing – the driver fears he will not have enough fuel to get back to town. We continue. Finally, after the interference of an extremely loud-mouthed local farmer woman (who wants money to show us the way – we refuse), we reach our setting off point. My altimeter says 2750m, we are very high in the moutain. (Mu Xiang Ping aka Chicken Foot Lotus Mountain 4 July)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce


Jun 28 2009

Kunming chilled

The vibe is different here. More laid back, more friendly. Kids on scooters shout “hallo” when they see my wide eye face. The streets are mostly wide, there are lots of trees. In the smaller older streets there are Plaine trees, they call them French Tree. The food is spicy, wholesome and delicious. This is my first taste of Yunnan and it is very cool. (Near the Green Lake university district Kunming 28 June)

Rough Edge Adventure Logistics mountain navigation & training & worldwide trekking

China 09 DofE Gold Expedition recce