Monday, July 21, 2014

Days 8 + 9

The past few days are going to be hard to describe. I left Xi'an refreshed but a bit reluctant to leave the comfort of the soft hostel bed and easy food. That soon disappeared as I left the city around 8:00am. A long stretch of villages was followed by the most beautiful mountain road I'd seen yet. Again following a river I wound through the range of narrow near vertical peaks along perfectly paved cliff roads and through long poorly lit tunnels. This lasted for hours as the sun slowly began to set. I found a nice campsite along side the highway blocked from the road by an outcropping. That night the sky looked clear enough so I decided to leave the rain cover off and fell asleep looking up at the first Maine quality sky I'd seen in a long time. 

The next day started off ok became amazing again and then terrible. So first I woke up before sunrise at around 6:00, packed my things and set off. After finishing the last 50kms or so of that last mountain range, RT316/310, the road I had been following became smaller and passed through a town before climbing to the ridge line of yet more mountains. Most of the morning I followed the ridge road, which was full of little potholes and without a centerline, at a leisurely pace. Once the road reached the peak, the views were again spectacular. Endless terraced fields of different shades of yellow-brown and green. Then in the afternoon I descended, had lunch and left my beloved RT316 and turned off on to RT212 which was entirely under construction. Not really construction in that I had to dodge big tractors or paving machinery all day but they had just decided to tear up the entire length of the road for about 50km leaving it very rough bumpy dirt and mud. I could go faster than most  but still only managed an average of about 30-40kmh (20mph). SO this was how the 2nd day ended. My goal had been to find a nice camp site near the city of Lixian but after a couple hours of this I was covered in dirt, sore and exhausted so I checked into a hotel maybe an hours ride from my goal.

It's been a while since I updated this. Internet has been scarce and unreliable and I'm about to pass into what I expect to be a near total internet blackout which Is really too bad because the most interesting things that have happened started happening after the period this post covers. I'll try to write more when I can. For now, I'm in a Tibetan village called Gangcha in Qinghai and tomorrow I'll try to make my way out of this cold rainy place and into the desert.

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