27-Mar-2005 -- Continued from 28°N 119°E.
Once again we got up early to enjoy an invigorating hot shower and a steaming bowl of wontons before catching our 6:20 a.m. bus from Longquan via Yunhe to the prefecture capital Lishui. The trip took a little over two hours. In Lishui, we caught a no. 3 commuter bus across town from the west to the east bus station, and at 9:20 a.m. left on a bus to Yongkang in the adjoining prefecture of Jinhua.
The confluence is located in Yongkang County, 13 kilometres north of the county capital. We reached Yongkang at 10:30 a.m. and immediately checked into a small hotel next to the bus station where we left our large backpacks, then headed off with only what we needed for the confluence attempt.
Our first objective was to get to the village of Tongzhai, and we were told that to do so we needed to get a bus from the west bus station. We had arrived at the east bus station, so this meant taking a no. 2 commuter bus across town. However, when we got to the west bus station, we were informed we had to go to yet another bus station. Fortunately this was not too far away, and after a couple of wrong turns, we finally made our way there on foot.
It was a small bus station with no ticket counter, but we saw the sign for Tongzhai buses, and figured it was just a matter of waiting for the next one to arrive. But after we'd been waiting fruitlessly for a considerable period of time, a passer-by suggested that the Tongzhai bus no longer departed from here, and that in fact we needed to go somewhere else! This was confirmed by the driver of another bus, who very kindly gave us a free ride to the correct place.
At 12:40 p.m. the Tongzhai bus finally appeared, and we were on our way. It took only 25 minutes to reach Tongzhai, and when we got off, the confluence was just three kilometres northwest. As we started walking up the road towards the confluence, we passed a couple of boys fishing, undeterred by the light rain.
Further along the road there was a large sign with a map. We were apparently in the Feilongshan ("Flying Dragon Mountain") scenic area. We tried to relate the features on the map to where we were, but without much success. We carried on walking and came upon a newly constructed dam. It was quite picturesque, with a waterfall on the mountain behind, and there were several people picnicking there. The confluence was 1.5 kilometres northwest of the dam.
Another half a kilometre up the road was another dam. This one featured on our satellite image of the area, so must have been in existence for a while. After walking a further half kilometre, we came across a mine. Jim took a close look at the rocks that were being extracted from the mine and judged them to be fluorite.
So far we had been quite fortunate in that the road was heading straight for the confluence, now only 500 metres to the northwest. However the road ended at a quarry not far beyond the mine. At 2:10 p.m. we left the road with the confluence still 240 metres away, and followed a trail up a valley alongside a stream. A thin plastic tube ran the entire length of the trail, and ended--or began really--in the middle of the stream at a point 110 metres from the confluence. We surmised that this must have been part of some in-stream biology research project.
The end of the plastic tubing marked the end of the trail, and we had to forge our own way from here. We crossed the stream and clawed our way up the steep slope on the other side towards the confluence, making several detours to avoid large expanses of steep rock that were dangerously slippery due to the rain. In this fashion, we eventually reached a point 30 metres from the confluence, our goal now directly below us to the southwest.
We fought our way down the steep slope through the undergrowth, experiencing the wrath of several unforgiving thorn bushes along the way. The satellite signal was extremely erratic, and our GPSs suggested the confluence was jumping all over the place, making it very difficult to get all the zeroes. We finally gave up chasing it, and sat down to celebrate with another round of Tim's wife's brownies. Although we couldn't see the stream through all the vegetation, we could hear it not very far below us. We also noticed that the confluence area had suffered a fire at some point in the past, and wondered if it had been manmade or due to natural causes--lightning perhaps.
Although there was not much visible through all the foliage, we nevertheless snapped the obligatory north-south-east-west photos before heading back up the hill to the ridge. Here we found a small disused path that made getting back to the road somewhat easier than the way we'd come.
Story continues at 29°N 121°E.