42 N–118 E Hebei (河北), China
Line Hunting Date: February 2, 2006 or the 5th day of Lunar New Year
Going after the second “Freezing Point” of the day
After we were properly chilled for the first ever confluence point of Charles (41N 118E) we were properly warmed up in a restaurant in Chengde (承德) city before we headed for the 2nd point of the day. According to the DCP web site, this is the last of 22 confluence point in Hebei to be visited.
Midnight traffic in the middle of the day – the wonder of Lunar New Year
The drive toward north was remarkable – a well paved highway with no car and no people. It was like driving after midnight except under bright sun light. Clearly, everything came to a stand still in country side during the Lunar New Year. It took a little over an hour and half to cover the 130 km to reach the turn off to a dirt road which put us 3.3 km from this Confluence point. We followed the dirt road and stopped at the end of a village when we can not drive any further - 320 meters away from our objective. The name of the village is Xia Cheng Le Dian （下常乐店）, part of the Yang Jia Wan (杨家湾)Township of Wei Chang (围场) County.
The wind chill factor
When we stepped out of the car it was evident that wind was much stronger than during the first hunt in the morning, hence considerably colder. The approach was a gentle uphill slope of plowed farmland. By the time we reached within 20 meters from the confluence point, our face and properly gloved hands already numb from the penetrating cold wind. We found the confluence point located near the bottom of a gully about 10 meters deep. At the edge of this gully, we were 15 meters from the all zeros but it was too steep to climb down from where we were. Assaulted by the wind blast, we settled for a less than prefect zeros hunt and hastily retreated.
A pleasant and warm hike for the all zeros
When we reached the car, we realized that we parked at the entrance of the confluence gully. As a hard core line hunter, Ray made a dash along the floor of the gully while Charles took refuge in the car to become reacquainted with his fingers. Inside the gully it was virtually windless. Relative to the artic blast above ground, it was a rather pleasant hike with a zig zag path to reach the all zeros point.
Overnight in a “Big City”
Originally, we where going to drive near our last point of this Spring Festival expedition to stay overnight in a small town in Fengning （丰宁）County. It was evident from the driving we have done so far that finding lodging in a small town could be a risky proposition - we did not see not a single shop or restaurant open for business since we left Chengde. Instead went to the nearest county capital of this Confluence point -Wei Chong (围场)– a town about ten thousand people. The only hotel we found were part of a massage establishment. The rooms were clean and warm but the owner was somewhat disappointed because we did not take advantage of the good massage service.
Rating of this hunt:
Degree of Challenge: 2– A easy drive and walk. Only the bitter cold wind presented some challenge (1= very easy - drive to the point; to 5= a death march – glad it is over)
Scenery: 2– Slope of an open valley not very colorful this time of the year (Scale: 1= not interesting at all; 5= take your breath away)
Culture-social factors: 2– typical rural villages in Northern China (Scale: 1=dull; 5= most stimulating)