01-Jul-2006 -- 37N – 112E Shanxi (山西), China
Line Hunting Date: July 1, 2006
The first confluence point of the Heart of China Expedition
This is the first of several confluence points we visited during a two-week road trip to the Tibetan area in southern Gansu (甘肃) province. The trip started in Beijing on July 31 and our main destination in Gansu is near the geographic center of China also called as “the Heart of China” (中国之心). In fact, part of our plan was to visit this location. The expedition members made up the original Yip-Bannicq Group except for Sierra who opted to spend her summer vacation in California.
Our route heading west took us across Shanxi provinces and this was the first confluence point within striking distance from the expressway – about 6 to 7 km , very near the Long Feng Zhen (Dragon and Phoenix Township – 龙凤镇). We were able to drive within 1.8 km from the confluence point and ended up in an area with mixed coal mining and rock quarry. Faced with a steep hill side, only the hard core hunter of the group (Ray) climbed up the hill and dashed toward the point.
Once reached the ridge top, the confluence point was 1.5 km GPS distance to go, but separated by a wide valley. The decision was to take a much longer but easier route by staying close to the ridge line. The confluence point was reached after half an hour of strenuous hike. This confluence point was located near the ridge top, right next to a well maintained road！ Had we found this road during the approach, it would have been an easy drive up instead of the mixed climbing and scrambling.
Returning to the car was made easy by following the road. Thanks to the great cell phone coverage in rural China, a quick call able to direct the waiting car to come up the newly discovered road hence shortened the return track from 5 km to 2 km.
After the hot and sweaty hunt, we visited an ancient village – Zhang Bi (张壁) about 5 km away which has an old castle and temple with extensive tunnel system build around six hundred years ago. We found the village equally interesting as the castle.
This confluence point was visited on day 2 of our expedition and about 720 km since we started the trip.
Rating of this hunt:
Degree of Challenge:
3 – the frontal assault was rather strenuous but there is a way to drive to the point (1= very easy - drive to the point; to 5= a death march – glad it is over)
3– rather pleasant view of villages on the hill side (Scale: 1= not interesting at all; 5= take your breath away)
4 – Farming communities of south central Shanxi with well preserved ancient villages (Scale: 1=dull; 5= most stimulating)