31-Mar-2006 -- For our first confluence attempt, the self-named “Qinghai Rangers” headed for 36 North, 101 East. We had planned a camping trip around this confluence hunt so we loaded up the vehicles with our packs and headed out from Xining around 9:00 a.m. The drive, though painfully slow, was tremendously beautiful as we drove through mountains, grasslands, and deserts to reach this confluence.
On the way to the confluence point, we picked up three hitchhiking Tibetans who were going to a nearby town. We might have been the first foreigners they had ever seen. They were very pleased to ride with us though we did not even try to explain to them what we were doing.
We drove through Gui De to a town called Guo Ma Ying. We then followed the road to Long Yang Xia north until we got close to the point. As we approached the confluence point, we were disturbed by the increasing intensity of the wind as it swirled around our van. Visibility was significantly reduced by the dust storm that began around noon and continued throughout the afternoon. And the closer we came to the confluence point, the more remote and desolate the landscape seemed. Finally, after riding for 5 hours, we were very pleased to see that the road brought us up to within 800 meters of the point. From the road, it was a relatively easy hike through yak and sheep pasture to the confluence on the side of a hill. The biggest challenge of the hike was the dust storm that angrily pounded our faces with dirt from an eroding and overgrazed grassland.
Perhaps the funniest thing about our adventure was dealing with our Chinese guide and his friends. Though we explained the best we could exactly what we were doing, they could not grasp the significance of finding a confluence point. So for the rest of the trip they continuously reminded us of the absolutely boring and ugly spot that we choose to seek. I’m pretty convinced that the guide thought I was playing an early April fool’s joke on him.
After we bagged the point, we drove another two hours back to Gui De and set up camp by the Yellow River. At this spot, the Yellow River is not at all yellow, rather it was a beautiful bluish green. It is not until it travels well into China that the sand and clay it picks up makes the water appear yellow in color.
This confluence hunting experience was great fun and we hope to find many more points in the future.