07-Jul-2006 -- 35N – 103E Gansu (甘肃), China
Line Hunting Date: July 7, 2006
The 5th confluence point of the Heart-of-China Expedition
This point was visited on the morning of day 8 of our trip to the Tibetan area in southern Gansu province. Our trip is called the Heart-of-China Expedition because the geographic center of China located within striking distance from Xia He (夏河), the primary destination of our trip.
Line hunting at its best
After spending two great days in Xia He visiting the famous Labrang monastery – one of the five most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, and the nearby grassland, we took a side trip on the third day to hunt for this confluence point. The hunt led us to discover a beautiful area and meet a number of interesting folks. In fact, the area near the confluence point was more remarkable than the area we had been exploring near Xia He. The pleasant discovery and encounters, in essence, are what makes confluence hunting a great sport.
Instant rerun on a mountain bike
This confluence point is located about 6-7 km from He Zuo (合作) Township, and it was a 60 km drive to reach the town where we found a dirt road heading east toward our objective. This road took us within 2 km from the confluence point near a village where we started our hike up a gentle hill. At 3000 meters of elevation, we walked slowly up the beautiful valley while taking pictures. With 500 meters remaining, the official confluence hunting camera ran out of battery but no spare one was on hand. While the rest of the hunting party visited with a Tibetan family attending yaks and sheep in the upper part of the valley, Ray hiked back to the car to fetch the spare battery. To save time, the 2nd trip up the valley was assisted by a mountain bike that was brought along for the expedition. The altitude made the biking up hill an exercise of heavy breathing and sweating. When he caught up with the waiting party, the local boys were very excited by the sight of the bike and eager to try it out. After everybody had a turn on the bike, we headed to the ridge to complete the hunt.
A spectacular confluence point
The hunting party and most of the children attending yaks hiked up (one biked up) to the ridge, and we found this confluence point located about 40 meters on the other side of the ridge. At this location, we had a great view of many ranges toward the south and colorful slopes nearby. The confluence point is located on a gentle grass slope filled with wild flowers. Great view, great hike, and great company – this was indeed a special confluence hunt. On the way down, a group of yaks formed a line and started to move toward Oreo. Clearly, they felt threatened by the presence of a dog and decided to take the offensive. The confrontation was quickly defused by one of the yak boys who threw a few stones toward the yaks. Before we departed, all the yak boys had another turn on the bike.
A pleasant visit at He Zou Township
We found a Muslim noodle restaurant in He Zuo for a late lunch where we observed the technique of flying dough into boiling water. The 9 year old daughter and 7 year old son of the owner were busy helping out and doing a good job in hosting us. After lunch, we visited the Tibetan monastery – Mila Riba Buddhist Palace - across the street which has a 9 storey temple, the tallest one among all monasteries. We returned to Xia He after a great day in the He Zuo area.
Rating of this hunt:
Degree of Challenge:
2 – 2 km of pleasant hike above 3000 meters of elevation (1= very easy - drive to the point; to 5= a death march – glad it is over)
5– Grass hills and valleys with wild flowers, yaks, horses, and sheep (Scale: 1= not interesting at all; 5= take your breath away)
5 – Tibetan herders living in traditional village (Scale: 1=dull; 5= most stimulating)