27-Jul-2011 -- A very long journey for this confluence point but well worth it!
This is the last out of 20 confluence visits on a bicycle trip through North-China. The story starts in Běijīng at 41°N 115°E. The previous report is 38°N 101°E.
After cycling 700 km in mountain terrain for over a week we finally reached this confluence point. Actually, we did have a chance for visiting 38°N 101°E on the way, but heavy rain and soggy ground vanquished our willingness. Reaching 37N 101E was now an imperative in order to have at least one confluence visit together.
After two good days of biking southwards, we reached our staging point for this hunt – Chéngguān Township (城关镇) located at a distance of 70 km from our objective. Although this is a small town, it was much busier than the other townships of this category, such as those where we had stayed in further north. Probably it is so bustling due to the proximity of the provincial capital Xīníng (西宁) located in a distance of 50 km.
The road from Chéngguān leading to the confluence point turned out to be a perfect bike route. This road connects to the town Hǎixī（海西镇）, located west of Qīnghǎi Lake. There is little traffic, the road is in good condition and the scenery is spectacular. The highest point of the road is 3630 m. We enjoyed the yellow and green colored patch work of rapeseeds on the hill sides. This is clearly one of the great rewards of confluence hunting – discovery of a great road or landscape that a traveller would otherwise not have come across.
Even though the confluence point is located in a fairly remote plateau, it is only 1.3 km off the only highway which cut across the region. From the paved road, there is a dirt road that took us within 50 meters of the point, and we had to climb over a cattle fence in order to reach the spot where GPS displayed all zeros. In short, the approach was easy and relaxed.
We were happy to have reached our first common confluence point after a week of cycling. The area around the confluence point is vast grassland partitioned for ranching. After the hunt, we went to a nearby Mongolian roadside holiday camp for a late lunch. At camp, Rainer demonstrated another talent – the ability to finish almost a gallon worth of milk tea!
At the end of day, we reached Hǎixī township during a thunderstorm with pouring rain and lightning. Unbeknown to us, Hǎixī had been one of the original sites where China developed the first atomic bomb in the 1950s, and now the inactive facilities have become a tourist attraction. We were too late in the day to visit the museum being part of the former nuclear weapon plants. Anyways we were soaking wet and chilled through so we were happy to have reached a dry and warm place for the night.
The next day, we finished our bike trip in the town Huángyuán (湟源县) and flew back home from the nearby city Xīníng.
CP Visit Details:
- Distance to an asphalt road: 970 m
- Distance to a road: 970 m
- Distance to a track: 50 m
- Distance of parking the bike: 50 m
- Distance to houses: 1.6 km
- Time starting the hike: 2:27 p.m.
- Time at the CP: 2:29 p.m.
- Measured height: 3112 m
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 0 m
- Position accuracy at the CP: 3 m
- Topography: flat
- Vegetation: grass, white flowers
- Weather: sunny, 21° C (felt temperature)
- Description of the CP: In the Province Qīnghǎi between Lake Qīnghǎi and the provincial capital Xīníng. In high altitude grassland
- Given Name: The Milktea by the Gallon Confluence
The story finishes here!