24-Mar-2004 -- 41 N – 112 E Inner Mongolia (Nei Mongol), China
Visit Date: March 24, 2004
Completed visit by the Yip-Bannicq Group - the hard core of the group: Sierra Yip-Bannicq and Ray Yip.
This is our first line hunting in Inner Mongolia and it is also the first confluence point visited in Inner Mongolia. Late March is still a bit cold but Sierra was having a school break so she went with Ray for a business trip to Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, with the understanding we might go line hunting on the last day if work was done early.
The 41W 112E point we visited was the closest point to Hohhot, about 32 km based on air distance. We knew it was located in the hilly area north of Holhot, which is a long mountainous range known as the steppe. The drive brought us to 5.1 km away from the point when we had to continue on foot. This is by far the longest walking distance among all the confluence points we have visited so far. Our shortest walk was 200 meters (39W 115E).
We followed a dry riverbed for over 1 km before we had to climb the first hill (300 meters). By the time we reached the top of the second hill we were just about half way there. The top of the third hill put us 400 meters away from the point but then, we had to go down a snowy slope with dense bushes – the challenge of the day. The point was located half way up the fourth hill, and it took us over 3 hours to reach it. This almost did Sierra in given that she had not eaten any breakfast that morning and we had had no food for lunch either. We estimated that we walked at least 7 km to reach the point.
At the top of the third hill we could tell there was a quicker way out of the valley to the main road without retracing our steps. This turned out to be the right move and we were able to follow the drainage bed out of the valley and we reached a dirt road in about 2 km. From the dirt road it was another 2 km to the main road where we found our ride. The only eventful part of the return portion of the hike was an explosion about 200 meters from us before we left the valley. There was a worker blasting the hill with dynamite to gather rocks for building material. This worker did not see us approaching and set off the explosion. Fortunately we are on the opposite side of the valley; still the boom knocked us to the ground.
We stopped at the first roadside restaurant for a hearty meal of dumplings and soup. Even though it was a great day out, the hike was longer than we had bargained for. Lesson learned – unless the objective is heavy duty hiking and hill scrambling, it is best to try harder to find alternative roads to go closer to the confluence point before going on foot.