09-Apr-2002 -- The road north of Old Dali is bordered to the east by a lake, Erhai Hu (Ear-Shaped Lake), and to the west by mountains. The land between is dotted with small villages and farmer’s fields where various crops have been grown under the clear blue skies for millennia. For two Canadian girls herded around in a tour group for weeks in the most polluted and populated areas of China, it felt like paradise. Here, Greg Michaels was looking for recruits to do the GPS geek thing and find 42N 100E. It seemed like a good reason to get up early, lose a lot of sleep and spend a half-day wandering in the fields.
It was easy to hire a jeep (complete with western mood music) from MCA Guesthouse where we stayed. Our Bai driver took us north on the main highway and then west ?4kms? through a small village. The Bai are the main inhabitants of this area and have their own dialect but are familiar with the first language of China. Thanks to Greg’s Mandarin and perseverance he found out the village was Youshou. Youshou won’t be found in any guidebooks. Its dirt roads are meant for cattle and its meager brick, and mud homes don’t have rooms for rent. Soon it became clear that the point was high in the mountain and the day may be longer than initially anticipated. Beyond the village, the road switchbacks up and past a lone pagoda. If your suspension is stiff, this route will shake the teeth right out of your head.
It is obvious the road is well traveled as evidenced by the pony train and elderly locals there. It tends to veer south, however, and a valley in which two streams join block the way north to the confluence. (In April one of the two streams is nearly dry) A variety of paths lead down to the streams. We took one of these, followed the larger stream up, west, and discovered a spectacular waterfall flanked by steep cliffs, a sight maybe no westerners, and perhaps few locals, have ever seen. The only way from here is a steep, narrow path to the left of falls; it continues about 20m above the steam on the other side of the falls. We were 1.5 kms southeast from our destination but time was running out and this was our turn around point.
Given more time, it may be possible to continue up the steep trail to the mountain pass and go north to the confluence. It may be also be possible to take the road to the top of the mountain and avoid the valley.
Alternate routes can be explored on the North side of the river. It’s unclear, however, from our perspective that a trail or a road exists there.