14-Sep-2006 -- This is the 10th confluence visit on a bicycle trip from China to Central Asia. The story starts at 32°N 107°E.
After successful visit of 44°N 89°E the previous day, I decided to visit this confluence which was 17 km beeline from Fùkāng (阜康) where I had spent the night.
First, I had to repair my punctured tires. With more than 10 holes in them, I preferred buying new tubes instead of a repair. Therefore, I had to wait until the first bicycle shop opened. Hence I had a relative late start (9:30 am). 17 km beeline doesn’t sound a lot, but there were some facts to be considered: 1. my map didn’t indicate any road to the point, 2. it is all uphill. Furthermore the road conditions, luggage and weather conditions contributed to the delays. In this case, the distance by road would be 42km.
I opted to approach the confluence from the road between Fùkāng and Tiānchí (天池). Fùkāng is a the district town and Tiānchí means ‘heavenlake’ being one of the touristy highlights in Xinjiang province. Fùkāng is at 600 m altitude and the late at 1900 m. I expected to ride on a small gravel road. But what I found was a four-lane highway with one full loaded tourist coach speeding along every 30 seconds. At a distance of 6 km from the confluence, I left the road and turned on a track with a steep uphill grade. The terrain was extremely mountainous and the tracks rough. It took another 2.5 hours to reach the confluence area. In particular the last 600 m I had problems to cross a valley with farms, fences, hedges and swamps.
At 13:10 pm I reached the confluence, which is in the bottom of a little side valley. Unfortunately from the confluence itself the views are less impressing than from all other points around it, where the Bogda Mountains (5445 m) are visible.
I had a break at the confluence and eat my last provisions consisting of 2 apples. I had three options to continue the trip: head down to Ürümchi (乌鲁木齐), Fùkāng or further into the mountains to see Tiānchí. I opted for the last and continued riding in the rough terrain. I really got into the mountains and lost the road network totally. I reached a valley with a small footpath and a lot of sheep. At 4 pm and a couple mountain passes later I reached the road again. 2 hours later I reached the famous lake where I met some friendly Kazakhs. Since I was running out of daylight, I didn’t spend much time with sightseeing at the lake. More interesting than the actual site were the masses of tourists and the infrastructure associated with them. Coasting down back to Fùkāng took only 1 hour. I reached Ürümchi (乌鲁木齐) late in the night.
CP visit details:
- Time at the CP: 13:10 p.m.
- Time to reach the CP from the road: 3 hours
- Distance to a track: 12 m
- Distance to a road: 6 km (probably less when approaching from the West)
- Distance of bicycle parking: 0 m
- Distance to houses: ca. 600 m
- Topography: hilly, high mountains in the South
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 0.67 m
- Position accuracy at the CP: 4 m
- GPS height: 999 m
- Vegetation: uncultivated arid soil, some dry grass, different crops in the nearby valley
- Weather: sunny (20° felt temperature)
- Description of the CP: In Xingjiang Province, East of Ürümchi. In the middle between the cities of Ürümchi, Fùkāng and the lake Tiānchí. Clearly at the slope to the Bogda Mountains. Little villages along the nearby valley. The actual confluence is in a side valley between a couple of small hills around it.
- Given Name: The Heaven Lake Confluence
Story continues at 45°N 81°E.