11-Jul-2009 -- This was my third confluence visit! From the moment I learned I had a chance to tour China for 60 days this summer as part of a volunteer teaching spoken English program in Henan Province, China, I began checking for unvisited confluences. After studying GoogleEarth, I felt 36/113 would be achievable from our school -- about 70 miles away. I inducted my brother Daryl who was also volunteer teaching and we planned for the first weekend figuring if we didn't make it, we could try for 37/113, also unvisited, the second weekend. Detailed planning began in earnest at the school and Anna, our best translator (teaches college Chinese in Maryland) was indispensable in coordinating the Chinese script on various maps including GoogleMaps. I also made a .jpg of the location on GoogleEarth and it was this paper print that proved indispensable in achieving this confluence.
We left after school Friday taking a bus first to Zhengzhou, the provincial seat of Henan and then north to a large city about 10 miles north and east of the confluence where we took a hotel room for the night. Early Saturday morning we took a bus south and a second bus west to a town about 4 miles away. Here we hired a taxi. As we had no street address, the driver took us to the town's police station. Luckily this building was identifiable on the GoogleEarth .jpg so I took over navigation and directed the taxi driver with hand gestures to follow the discernible roads. We ended up on a narrow farm road and when it became too rough for the taxi, we hopped out determined to walk the remaining mile plus. However, a farm van stopped and offered us a ride. When the GPS pointed perpendicular to the road we dropped down thanking the driver.
Our first effort to set off cross country was thwarted by a ridge so we walked back (south) along the road to a dry wash which we then followed. This got us to within a few hundred meters where we had to again strike out cross country. This area is terraced into corn fields so the only difficulty was scrambling up the terrace faces -- a thorny shrub being about the only hand hold. Oh yeah, did I mention the nasty ants that came pouring out of the soil any place you dug your hand in for traction on the near vertical faces? After three terraces, the confluence was about 6 vertical feet up an 8 foot vertical terrace. Luckily there was enough footing to stand and I got the requisite pictures of the GPS and the 4 cardinal directions before scrambling the rest of the way up to photograph the spot itself.
Having achieved the confluence, we were free to return any reasonable way and we followed a farm trail that soon led to a mountain village situated on a major watershed divide and the village is normally reached from the western valley rather than the eastern valley which we had used. We caused quite a stir in the village and spent 15 to 30 minutes photographing and chatting as best we could -- not sharing a common language. We left the village by walking down the mountain road and to our relief discovered the taxi driver had slowly made his way much closer so we didn't have to walk all the way back to our drop off point. We returned to the same town we slept in to catch the express bus back to Zhengzhou. Naturally I was in a hurry to submit my visit report but found the Chinese government is censoring the DCP site! I wasn't able to report until now from the Philippines where I will spend another 20 days. I will post many fully captioned and geotagged photos at my sites www.randyhi.com and also my photo sharing site as well as the GPS log in GoogleEarth format.