05-May-2006 -- We originally planned a trip up to Qi Lian to find the confluence point at 38 N 101 E, but a few days before our trip, we discovered that foreigners were not allowed in that part of Qinghai province without special permission. So, we scrambled around trying to make arrangements to visit a different confluence. Because it was the May holiday, we chose to make a few day camping trip out of the confluence visit as well.
So we packed up the van and left Xining around 8:30 a.m. getting to the confluence point in Gansu province around noon. The point seemed to be just outside of the TianZhu (Heavenly Blessing) National Forest. From the pictures on Google Earth, it looked like we were going to have to hike almost 2 miles to the point. But we were pleased to discover a side road that led us to within 1/3 of a mile of the point. When we approached the point, I asked the driver to stop because it seemed like the point was just on the side of a hill away from the road. The driver would not stop because he wanted to look for a place with better scenery. I tried the best I could to explain to him that the place we were looking for was just a point on the map and had nothing to do with scenery. At that, he wanted to ask someone where the confluence point should be. Of course, that just made me laugh because it was very doubtful that the nomadic Tibetans in the area would even know what longitude and latitude were much less a confluence point.
It turned out, though, that we were very thankful for the driver’s hesitance to stop where I asked him. If he stopped there, we would have had to climb a small mountain to get to the point. But, fortunately for us, the driver didn’t listen to me and took us to a place very close to the confluence.
The original plan for the trip was to find the confluence point and set up camp around there hoping to summit some 13,000 ft. peaks the next day. But because we found the point so quickly, we were able to drive into the park and hike along a river to a point much closer to the mountains. In doing this we exchanged camping at 9,300 feet for a campsite at 11,400 feet. We were not prepared for what this would mean: though the scenery was breathtaking, the nights were unbearably cold and we woke up the next morning to a significant snowfall.
Overall, this confluence point is pretty simple to get to and the surrounding area is fantastic to behold, especially the jagged-tooth peaks in the park a few miles away.