25-Jun-2006 -- The third attempt at the confluence. This one was the best so far (better than the 4th attempt peter and I had later in September of 2006). We used the ridge trails that we had found from the second attempt and continued hiking up and up. Past the horse paddock the trail goes into an old growth forest, rocky and muddy. Its steep like walking up the top level stadium seats at a baseball game, but only we didn't have hot dogs, cold cokes, soft pretzels, jalapeno cheese nachos or anything else. That would have been nice.
Actually we were pretty upbeat. Simon and I chatted about baseball and cricket on the way up through the forest. He had the good idea to film the trip and show to his students. As we reached to top of the ridge the weather started to get colder and it was raining. This was over 3000 meters so it was pretty tough on us. I had a second wind and just rudely bolted ahead... I just wanted to get to our goal as soon as possible.
We had been told by Larry during the second attempt of a mysterious castle that awaited us after the ridge. The castle turned out to be right... it was a castle to us.
Simon set about starting a fire and this turned out to be harder than we thought... it was actually a miracle we got it going! But once it started, we were so relieved. We slept in the stone house that night and set out early the next morning. In the morning fog behind the stone house I saw a group of mountain goats but they didn't stick around. There were cows and yaks up there, a bit more friendly. They seemed interested in us but we didn't give them anything to eat so they slowly wandered away.
We packed light and headed up the grassy slopes towards the confluence point. It was very sunny, extremely blue skies.
The grass was filled with mountain flowers, the perfect time of the year. Later the grass was replaced with lichen covered rock. We scrambled up the slope. On the other side of the slope we fell upon the most beautiful view of Siguniang Shan - Four Maidens Mountain. That's where Simon and I decided to have a nap. Peter and I had miscalculated where the confluence point would be. We had thought we were almost upon the point but it turns out that the crest we were resting at was still 2km away from the point. That wasn't the most important thing. The point was on the far side of the faraway ridge in front of us! Getting to the confluence would take at least another day, and we didn't have that luxury. We were standing on the crest around 1pm, and I had a flight back the USA early the NEXT MORNING! We had to descend from 4100m to 1500m (the road) along the steep mountain trails with our big packs, then jump into the mini van and race back 5 hours in the dark to Chengdu. It's sad we didn't get to the point, but the trek was probably the best I've ever had in China. The pictures tell a better story.