25-Jul-2011 -- A long journey for an “Incomplete Visit”
This confluence was attempted during Rainer’s bicycle trip through North-China. The story starts in Běijīng near 41°N 115°E. The previous report is 40°N 98°E.
We met up in the city of Jiāyùguān (嘉峪关), located in Gānsù province almost 500 km away and started biking from there. After crossing a some high passes, which were under extremely poor road conditions, we reached our staging point – Ébǎo (峨堡) – a tiny township, about 10 km away.
Given this point is located in a valley a few kilometers from the road, our plan was to ride 5 km to a trail head, then hike 7 km across a mountain range. A proposition which likely would take a good part of the day.
The first event which almost derailed us from this confluence hunt was the unwillingness of the inn keeper to put us up for the night. At our arrival, he informed the police about our presence. Apparently, this part of Qīnghǎi province was closed to foreigners until a year ago, and only approved hotels (3 stars and above) can accommodate foreigners.
We were sent to the police station, and duly informed that we must back track 50 km to the county capital Qílián (祁连县) in order to stay in a hotel decent enough for our comfort and hygiene. Eventually we were able to win our stay in the dumpy little inn by arguing that we would move on only if the police officer takes responsibility in writing for anything that might happen to us during the long ride in the dark. Of course, an official would not take on such responsibility; avoiding responsibility is the key in avoiding blame and therefore the key for promotion.
At this point I should note that while preparing the bike tour I asked my fellow biker whether we should bring a tent or not. He replied that it hardly ever rains in Qīnghǎi and that we would find a place to stay everywhere. However, the second event which kept us from reaching this confluence point was an act of God – pouring rain started in the middle of the night. The heavy rain converted the 15 km track across the grassy mountain ranges into a slippery and difficult hike. Looking towards the confluence, we saw an umbrella with two legs walking over the grasslands (it turned out to be a small girl).
Reluctantly, we put on our rain gears and started biking. By this time, Rainer clearly was having symptoms of not having a single confluence hunt for 5 days. Before we had met up in Jiāyùguān to start the bike trip in Qīnghǎi together, he already had biked 3,000 km from Běijīng, with almost one confluence visit every day or every other day.
This very northern part of Qīnghǎi bordering Gānsù is rather remote with very few roads and communities. Along the route we had chosen – following the Qílián Mountain Range (祁连山) – this was the only confluence point being close enough for an attempt.
Upon leaving Ébǎo, we biked over the mountain pass Jǐngyánglǐng (景阳岭垭口) with an height of 3767 m, setting our sight on 37°N 101°E, which required another 300 km of bike ride. That would remain the last chance to have a successful confluence hunt together for us.
CP Visit Details:
- Distance to an asphalt road: 6.6 km
- Distance to a track: 3.7 km
- Distance to houses: 3.7 km
- Time at nearest approach: 11:59 AM
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 6.6 km
- Topography: mountainous at the confluence
- Weather: rain, 11° C (felt temperature)
- Description of the CP: In Gānsù Province right next to the border to Qīnghǎi Province, located remotely on the Qílián Mountain Range (祁连山)
- Given Name: The Walking Umbrella Confluence
Story continues at 37°N 101°E.