Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Road to Xueshan. Day 1.

The next stop in our adventure will be Xueshan, a little town in the province of Qinghai, and the starting point of what we hope to be a slightly less busy trek.

A careful time-cost analysis of our transportation alternatives revealed that getting from Jiuzhaigou to Xueshan by a combination of bus and airplane would be the best alternative. What the calculus didn't reveal was our sense that getting there entirely by land would score a lot higher on adventure. Why? Well, because there is not an obvious way to get there by land. We aren't even sure how far it is. Or how we are going to get there.

We have several shitty 3inch-by-4inch lonely planet maps (one for each of the provinces that we will travel in) that show part of the route. We also have an amateur hand drawn rendering of a hiking route, which Pierre downloaded from the internet. The hand drawn map has an arrow pointing to a town that appears on one of the lonely planet maps, so…it's almost like we have the whole thing mapped, right? Ok, well, at least we know the names of some towns along the way. We also know that there should be buses connecting some (but probably not all) of the towns. Bus information tends to be limited and very local, so planning more than one or two dots ahead is futile.

Our plan is to take the journey town by town and to just keep moving until we make it to Xueshan. It looks like we have 5 or 6 dots to connect, if things go well. Today, we made it to the second dot, but it would be a stretch to say that things went smoothly. The day began with a bus ride to Langmusi. Dot one. From there, we were planning to catch another bus to Xiahe (Dot Two). We quickly observed that this was unlikely going to be possible - time to improvise - so we climbed back in our bus and headed north, hoping to find another way to get to Dot Two. Four hours later, the bus dropped us off at the side of the highway, near a turn off to Xiahe; which was just 35km west of the highway. With no other ideas about how to make the distance, we began walking with our thumbs out.

Before long, we were picked up by a police car. Two friendly traffic cops who, as luck would have it, were headed to Xiahe. As the sun was setting, we managed to snag what seemed to be the last hotel room in the town. Tomorrow starts with a bus ride and then…who knows.


Blogger BikingBakke said...

you love hand drawn maps!

October 1, 2012 at 5:42:00 PM MDT  

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