W
NW
N
N
NE
W
the Degree Confluence Project
E
SW
S
S
SE
E

China : Sìchuān Shěng

4.9 km (3.0 miles) NW of Xindianzi, Sìchuān, China
Approx. altitude: 4351 m (14274 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 31°S 77°W

Accuracy: 6.0 km (3.7 mi)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: Other photos of Silver Mine Valley at the closest we got to it, 5.99 kilometers / 银厂沟内离交汇点5.99公里处的其他景色。 #3: Confluence Hunters: Xiaoerlang "Small Boy" Larry, Longchuan Li, Jie Deng, Naxin Chen, Xueying Peng, Wanhui Zhao, and Peter Snow Cao / 探点的队友们、小儿郎、李龙川、邓杰、陈纳新、彭雪英、赵万辉和曹雪磊。 #4: Group photo at the gate to Silver Mine Valley - Old Leaf cooking up noodles for the hungry confluence hunters /(I)在银厂沟大门口的团体照(II)老叶在为饥肠辘辘的队友们煮面。 #5: Log bridges and creaky ladders on the trail / 小径上的木棍桥和摇晃的梯子。 #6: Gold panners on the river / 河上的金夫子。 #7: Tibetan cowboys on their way to tend their 300 yaks / 前往照顾他们三百头耗牛的藏族牛郎们。 #8: Frozen waterfalls provided wonderful places to take a rest and shoot some photos / 冰瀑群提供了极佳的休憩处和极上镜头的风景照。 #9: Silver Mine Valley and more frozen waterfalls / 银厂沟和更多的冰封的瀑布。 #10: Larry's gifts and note where he turned around: "Larry returned from this point at 2:30 PM" and about soup for the last person back / 小儿郎的礼物和在他返航前的字条“我于两点半从此点开始往回航”和留给最

  { Main | Search | Countries | Information | Member Page | Random }

  31°N 103°E (visit #1) (incomplete) 

#1: Looking up Silver Mine Valley toward the Confluence six kilometers away /在距离目的地六公里处遥望著银厂沟的远景。

(visited by Peter Snow Cao, Xiaoerlang "Small Boy" Larry, Longchuan Li, Wanhui Zhao, Xueying Peng, Naxin Chen and Jie Deng)

Chinese Narrative

08-Mar-2003 -- This confluence lay middle of the Wolong Nature Reserve established as a protected area for the Giant Panda. There are an estimated 2,000 wild pandas in China and the majority are in this area. Even so, they are extremely shy of people and sightings are extremely rare. This area is about 150 km (90 miles) northwest of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, where we live.

This confluence hunt was originally planned to be a bus and bike trip. But a closer look at the topographic map revealed that the best route to the confluence was a narrow valley for three quarters of the way, then a scramble to the point near a 4,782 m (15,684 ft) peak. So I decided to leave the bikes at home and opt for a hike in. Also, public transportation options are limited to a 6:30 AM bus and no return options. So we rented a van and seven of us met at 7 AM near the center of town.

On this trip there was Naxin Chen, a guide for Bike China Adventures (on his third confluence hunt), Wanhui Zhao (on his second), Xueying Peng (on her first), Longchuan Li (on his second) and his wife, Jie Deng (on her first), Xiaoerlang "Small Boy" Larry (on his fourth) and myself, Peter Snow Cao, founder of Bike China Adventures (on my tenth).

It was a chilly morning and still dark when we assembled at the gates to Huaxi Medical University. Larry arrived ready to tackle Mount Everest with full climbing gear of rope, dozens of carabiners, straps, and other climbing paraphernalia. He said he almost brought his crampons. The rest of stared in disbelief. If we really need all that stuff, it is going to be one heck of a hunt.

Getting out of town at that hour was easy. Morning traffic hadn't picked up yet. On the way, we passed through Dujiangyan, the location of the most sustainable hydro-engineering project in the world, founded 3rd century BC before China was unified as one nation.

While the location is not far, it still took three hours to arrive because of hilly narrow winding roads and slow traffic. Along the way, Larry led the group in a number of songs. Just north of Dujiangyan a huge hydroelectric project is underway adding a multitude of construction trucks to the traffic mix. At 100 km from Chengdu, we reached the turnoff to Wolong Nature Reserve entering a peaceful winding road along side a river.

The first town was Gengda and we stopped for breakfast and supplies. Old Ye (Leaf) was manning the stove at the restaurant and prepared nine bowls of tasty noodles and a dozen eggs for the group of hungry confluence hunters. Larry found a Chinese machete in the market and thought it would be a useful addition to the multitude of stuff he was already packing.

As we continued up the Wolong valley, views of beautiful snow-covered low-lying mountains had us wondering what we were in for. It looked like it had just snowed that night before as the trees looked freshly dusted.

We passed the Wolong Panda zoo where the parking lot was buzzing with tour-group activity. At 10:30 AM we arrived at the entrance to the valley that would lead to the confluence, Silver Mine Valley (Yinchanggou). There is a small gate marking the entrance, and when we arrived a group of five men were waiting for the rest of their group to return from a walk up the valley.

After parking the car down the road at a nearby house for safety, I took a GPS reading and was surprised to find the confluence was 11.5 km away "as the crow flies." (Do crows really fly in straight lines?) When I had measured the map at home I came up with a distance of about eight kilometers to the confluence walking through the valley. This thought struck me as a bit odd, but I put it out of my mind for the time being. Larry had brought a big bag of mandarin oranges and a can of soup for everyone. Getting started had everyone buzzing with excitement, and we were soon on our way.

The valley entrance is at 2,500 m (8,200 ft) and is framed by sheer cliffs on both sides and only marginally opens up further up. A noisy small river, almost big enough to raft, provided constant company as we made our way upriver. Our route was to follow it almost to its source and then break off and climb into one of its tributaries finally ending up on the side of the mountain.

Within a half a kilometer of the valley entrance we came across several groups of people panning for gold. Apparently the silver had run out, but there was still gold available in the area. Each operation had four or five people working: two people would be digging the bank, another bringing the diggings to the pan, a sieve the size of medium size frying pan. The person operating the pan would take the diggings, dump it into the pan, then scoop water and pour it over the diggings while rocking the pan back and forth looking for the bright specks of gold. The panning had a detrimental effect on the water quality. The water downstream of the panning was a turbid while upstream was sparkling blue and clear as a bell.

This valley has been slated for development and had already begun with the construction of two bridges crossing the river. Aside from this, the road construction had not yet begun and there was only a narrow path leading up the valley. After about one km, the path deteriorated to a scramble along the riverbank. The footpath crisscrossed the river every few hundred meters on two or three small tree trunks lashed together with wire. About every 500 meters or so the path would climb high above the river to get over a steep section of riverbank. This "path" was usually no more than crushed underbrush, and often involved a bit of a scramble pulling on nearby bamboo for assistance. It was evident that few people go up this valley. I was glad I hadn’t brought the bikes. They would have been a liability after only one kilometer.

The air temperature was cool, about 5° C (41° F), but the sun was out and, as we were walking at a brisk pace, we quickly warmed up. The ground temperature was still below zero and it was not long before we were passing a multitude of frozen waterfalls. The trail continued to meander back and forth across the river and occasionally there was a rickety ladder to climb.

Along the way, we came across a band of six Tibetan boys about 18 years old that Larry labeled "The Cowboys." They were heading up the valley to tend their 300 head of yaks grazing on the high altitude grasslands. Their job was to give the yaks salt once a month to keep them healthy. They were a high-strung group, laughing, joking and singing songs. Our arrival was a novelty in that valley because few tourists ever get past the first kilometer.

When we met them, the Cowboys were finishing their lunch of rice, and bai jiu (a wickedly potent rice wine that can be used for gasoline in a pinch). They were lounging on the bank and smoking cigarettes and held their dog back so we could pass. Tibetan dogs are renown for their viciousness. We asked them about the trail conditions and what was ahead and they said there was a big hot springs with the tantalizing temperature of 30° C (86° F) that was big enough to hold more than 60 people. Our group was psyched until they added it was too far to get there today. We continued on our way.

Getting GPS signals in this narrow valley was very difficult. Aside from the very beginning of the trail, most of the time there was not enough sky to get a reading. When we did get one, it became clear that I had missed grossly judged the distance to the confluence. I began to think about how I computed it. Starting with a 1:500,000-scale topographic map, I had made an enlargement (200%) making the scale 1:250,000. Then I measured the distance in centimeters and found it to be about eight. Then I made the fatal error of converting the centimeters directly to kilometers, forgetting about the 2.5 factor. So instead of eight kilometers, it was really a twenty-kilometer hike. Oh boy! I realized that there was no way we could make it to the confluence and back before dark.

I informed our group about the development and everyone seemed to take it well. Although it was difficult, it was still a wonderful hike up a marvelous hidden valley. The sky clouded up around noon, and it started to snow lightly. The river rocks had beautiful ice formations. There was snow on the ground in some areas and Li said that this was the first time he ever walked on snow and thought it made for a very comfortable hike.

The Cowboys soon passed us carrying unbelievably little for a multi-day trip: one had a small sack of rice, another had a small sack of salt and a third carried the kettle. The other three were unencumbered. Their traveling method was to run or jog along the path as fast as they could for 15 or 20 minutes, then stop to take a break and smoke a cigarette. Zhao and I ran along behind the leader while peppering him with questions. He said he has lived in this area all his life and had only seen a wild panda twice. He moved with the ease and grace along the trail while Zhao and I tried to mimic his style. Once we got winded, we stopped and waited for the others to catch up.

I was able to get another GPS reading and we were now 5.99 km from the confluence. The time was 3:30 PM and sunset was at 7:10 PM. The Cowboys said it would be dark by 7:30 PM. Reluctantly, we decided to throw in the towel at that point and head back. I took some photos of the valley and the GPS. We had climbed to 2,700 m in four hours. It was clear that in order to reach this confluence, it would require an overnight trip.

Leaving the Cowboys to continue on their trip up we returned the way we came, this time carefully observing our surrounding. The area was full of small bamboo shoots of the type pandas love. I could understand why this area was a favorite.

On the way back we passed a frozen waterfall where Zhao had stored a bottle of water. Retrieving it he found it refreshingly chill and enjoyed a long swig. Larry, was bringing up the rear and turned back early. He left a pile of mandarin oranges and a note on a small boulder along the path telling us when he turned around. He added that we should take our time as there would be hot soup for the last person to return.

Chen was having knee problems. He said that while walking up hill was no problem, walking down was very painful. Previously, I had similar problems when walking on Mt. Emei, a holy mountain with over 50 kilometers of steps. I said he should try walking backwards when going downhill. He tried it and said it helped. Jie Deng wore casual street shoes and had difficulty on some parts of trail. I suggested that Li buy his wife some real hiking shoes for the next time.

When we reached the place where the gold prospects were, they were just finishing up their work. One group had found about 5 grams of gold that day, and was pretty satisfied.

We arrived at the valley entrance at about 6:30 PM, eight hours after we had begun. On the way back we discussed how we can make the next confluence hunt a success. Most people slept on the way back. Larry kept me company chatting away to keep me awake. We arrived back in Chengdu about 10 PM exhausted, but satisfied with a great day of hiking. We promised to try again later in the year.

I would like to thank everyone for keeping up such good spirits throughout the trip. We all had a great time and look forward to our next confluence hunt.

Chinese Narrative

08-Mar-2003 -- 卧龙峡谷探幽      二OO三年三月八日

(队长曹雪磊先生(Peter Snow Cao)是一位由美国旧金山来成都定居的美国,他的文字洗练,层次分明,可读性极高。下面我将把他的报告用中文直接翻译出来让大家欣赏)。

这次的“点”落在卧龙大熊猫保护区内,据说中国现存的熊猫大约两千多只,其中有一大部份生活这个区域。它们非常的害羞,要见到它们是不容易的,这个区域位於成都西北方大约有一百五十多公里的地方。

我们这次猎点的计划原本想用公交车和自行车接驳完成,但是当我仔细查看等高线地图时,发现要到达目的地的最佳路线有四分之三得经过非常狭窄的山谷,然后又得经过崎曲不平的山路,再得爬上四千七百米左右的山峰,所以,我决定将自行车摆在家里,改以步行。再者,公交车只能早上六点三十出发,而且回程也无车可乘,于是我们七个人租了一辆面包车,早上七点钟在靠近城中心的地方集合。

第四次寻点

这是一个寒冷的早晨,当我们在华西医科大学(译者注:今已与四川大学合并更名为川大了)门口集合时,天还没亮呢。但见小儿郎装备齐全的来了,他除了带着登山绳,上打的快挂钩环和绳套外还有许多奇奇怪怪的攀岩零件,好像要去征服艾佛勒斯峰似的(注:该峰中文名珠穆朗玛)。他还说他本想连冰爪也一并带上的。其他的人都用怀疑而惊讶的眼神望着他,心想如果咱们今天都需要这些工具的话,此行的艰险程度可真要话说。

在那样的时刻出城是不难的,早上交通的高峰时段还没开始呢。出城之后不久我们越过了都江堰。这城市早在中国尚未统一为一个国家以前的公元前三世纪,就建成了世界上极负盛名的水利工程。

我们要去的地方不能算太远,但是因为要经过又窄又弯的山路,加上拥挤的交通情况,咱们开了三个小时才到。沿途小儿郎带着大伙儿唱了许多歌。临近都江堰市的北面正在修建一座极大的水利发电厂,大量的工程车使得交通更显拥挤。在离成都一百公里的光景,我们转向一条沿着河通往卧龙自然保护区这条路十分弯曲而幽静。

我们遇到的第一个小镇叫耿达,停下车来用了早餐并补充设备。店主老叶掌灶为我们这群饥饿的寻点者煮了九碗美味的面条,又和上打的鸡蛋。小儿郎在小店中觅得中式砍刀一把,认为又可能用得上,于是在他本来九庞大的行头中又添了生力军。

在我们往卧龙峡谷继续前行的马路上,但见低矮的山头铺着美丽的白雪,不知咱们前去的山区前景又如何?从枝头上雪花的判断,这雪似乎是前夜刚落的。我们继续前行,经过卧龙大熊猫动物园,那停车场中人声嘈杂,估计是旅行团队中游客们的嚷嚷。十点三十分我们终于到了前往峡谷的入口——银厂沟。由此前进就可以到达今天寻点的目的地了。入口处树立着门坊,此刻这儿站着五个人,正在等其他去山谷中散步的友人归来。

当把车停在附近的人家,请其代为看守之后,我将卫星定位仪取出,顺着它标示的直线距离指标,我惊讶的发现目的地距此还有11.5公里之遥。平时我们以乌鸦之属的鸟儿飞翔影射直线距离的通称,此刻不禁怀疑:“乌鸦啊,你飞的真的是直线吗!”因为我在家中沿着地图测量出,我们顺着峡谷前行仅仅8公里就可到达咱们的目的地的啊!如此大的差距的确教我不能接受,现在暂且把它搁在一边吧。小儿郎带来了一大袋橘子和八宝粥分与众人。终于,每人满怀兴奋之情,踏上了征途。

峡谷进口的海拔高度是二千五百公尺(即八千二百英尺)两边笔直的峭壁,夹着往上前行的开口。一条喧闹的足可荡舟的小溪不断伴随着我们往上前行。如地图所示,要沿溪而行,在到达它的源头之前,转向它的支流上攀,我们要寻找的交汇点,就坐落在那儿的山边。

我们从山谷入口处走了几乎半公里的地方,遇到好几堆淘金的群众。银厂沟的银也许已经见底,但是还有金子呢!他们每四到五个人组成一个工作小组,其中两个人负责挖河床岸边的砂石,另一人将砂石送到一个菜盘大小的筛盘处,在这里负责筛盘的人会将砂石倒在盘中并用水浇在砂石上再用手前后摇动着盘子并仔细观查是否有闪烁的金色粒子。这种淘洗方式有损於水质,在这地点下游的水是一片混浊而上游却依然一片清澈蔚蓝。

这峡谷似乎已经有著手开发的痕迹,建好了两座跨沟的桥,但路还没有开始修整,如今仅有一条小道通入山谷。走了一公里之后,河岸边的羊肠小道变成了需要攀爬的险路。

每过几百公尺,我们就沿著小路走过两、三根用铁线捆绑在一起的木桩桥来回的跨越溪流。大约每隔五百公尺我们又得往岸边的高处攀爬,以越过陡峭的山壁。这时的小路仅是一堆交缠在一堆的小灌木,往往还得依靠胡乱的拉紧周边的竹子,做为攀爬的助力。走在人迹罕至的山谷中,我暗自庆幸没把自行车带进来,否则就在一公里之后就会成了沉重的负担。

这时的气温大约是五摄氏度(41华氏度)左右,阳光加上轻快的步伐,我们很快的就热起来了。可是地面的温度仍在零度以上,过不了一会儿,我们就越了成群的冰封了的瀑布。这羊肠小道仍然漫无边际的带领著我们来回的穿梭在小溪的两岸,不时还得爬过一些摇摇晃晃的梯子。

再过些时,我们遇见了六个大约十八岁左右的藏族男娃儿,小儿郎戏称他们为“牛郎”,他们沿著山谷,将上到很高的草原去照顾在那儿吃草的三百头牦牛。他们每月一次的任务就是去那边喂牛吃盐,以维持牛儿们的健康。这是一群率性而为的小伙子,他们尽情的欢笑,打趣和高歌著。对整个山谷而言,我们的到来可算得上是个异数,因为极少的游客会越过那一公里的极限。

当我们遇到这群牛郎的时候,他们刚刚吃完了米饭和白酒的午餐(他们那种白酒的酒精成份极高,必要时可以当著汽油来用)他们懒洋洋地呆在水边抽着烟并把他们的狗拴住以便让我们通过。藏狗的凶恶是极负盛名的。我们问及前面的路况时,他们说有个可容六十个人又有极奇诱人的三十摄氏度(华氏86度)的温泉在等着我们。接著又加了一句“那可是今天到不了的”,一下子浇熄了我们兴奋的火焰。我们依然踏着步子前行。

在这狭窄的山谷中要读到卫星定位仪的信号是极不容易的,除了在开始的一段路而外,狭谷中总是找不着足够的天空以显示仪表上的数字。一旦我们碰巧读到它,很明显的我错估了我们目的地的实际距离。於是我开始思考我是怎样计算的。我家里有份五十万分之一的实际的等高线地图,我将它放大了一倍,於是比例尺变成了二十五万分之一,我再用尺量了我们将走的距离是八公分,在这我犯了一个致命的错误,就是我将八公分直接放大十万倍就成了八公里而忽略了实际上2.5的倍数。所以正确的二十公里的步行距离就被我误解为八公里了。哇噻!我马上了解到我们无法在天黑前完成我们的探点计划。

当我把这一发现告诉了我们队友时,大家似乎尚能处之泰然,虽然是有些遗憾,但能在这深藏的狭谷探幽也不失为一次美好的经验。临近中午时分,天空暗了下来,同时飘起了雪花。河床的岩石上也结上美丽的冰层。在某些地面上有了薄薄的积雪。李龙川说这是他首次有了在雪上行走的经验,识为雪花增加了足下的舒适度。

牛郎们不久就追过我们了。他们数天的旅行装备可是少得可怜,但见一人拿著一小袋米,一人拿著一小包盐,再就是第三个人提著水壶,其他三人就身无一物了。他们的旅行走法是沿著小道或快或慢的跑个十五到二十分钟然后休息一会儿,抽支烟,赵万辉和我跟著他们的领队一面跑一面问些零星的问题。他说他在此生活了一辈子也只见过野外生存的熊猫两次。他以其优雅的姿态飘忽在小路上,我和小赵亦步亦趋的学样。一旦我们需喘口气的时候,我们会停下来等著后面慢慢前来的伙伴。

当我有机会再读到定位仪上数字的时候,它显示出离目的地还有五点九九公里,那时已是下午三点三十分,而太阳将于七点十分下山。而牛郎们说七点半天才会变黑。我们心虽不愿但也不得不认输,决定就此返航。我拍了些山谷中的景色和定位仪的记录。我们在四小时的攀登中,上到二千七百公尺的高度,很明显的,要想到达这个交汇点是非得有个过夜的计划不可。

送走了牛郎们继续他们的征途,我们打道回府。这时,我们开始有时间仔细的瞧瞧我们的周遭环境。原来这是个密密的箭竹林,这正是熊猫们喜爱的食物,这也难怪它们乐意以此为它们家园的上选。

归途中,我们经过了一片冰瀑,小赵来时在其中藏了一罐水,他再找回时发现它是如此冰凉可口,於是狠狠的痛饮了一顿。小儿郎是尾随着我们前进的,他在较早的时刻就返回了,他在路边的岩石上留了一堆桔子和一句短语说他于何时回航,并且附言劝道要我们缓行回府,并说后到的有热汤可喝。

陈纳新的膝盖发生了问题,他说了在往上爬时没有一点问题,可往下行时就疼痛不堪了。以前,我曾在有50公里石阶的峨嵋圣山山道上有过相似的问题。我劝他在下行时试著背过来走。他试过之后,认为有些帮助。邓杰是穿了双平时上街的鞋子来的,她在某些路段时也发现了问题。我建议李龙川为他的妻子买双真正的登山鞋以利於下次的出行。

当我们回到当初金夫子们的所在地时,他们刚刚结束了一天的工作。有一队的人说他们一天内采到了五克的金子,是份令人满意的工作成绩。

我们于六点三十分回到了山谷的入口,于此离我们出发的时刻有整整八个小时了。归途中我们讨论著如何在下次再来此探点时取得成果。大部份的队友在回程中都呼呼入睡,小儿郎不断地与我聊天以保持我的清醒状态。我们于晚上十点到达成都,虽然筋疲力竭了,但对於整整一天的登山活动感到满意,并决定年内要再去迎接挑战。

在此我要感谢队友们在全部的旅程中保持著不懈的斗志,大家尽兴而返。盼望著下次的探点活动与大家再度聚首。

小儿郎译於二OO三年四月初

全部照片可以一次出示(建议使用宽面展示)

(有关“探点”活动的,104°E记录后面的说明)起源,请查31°N


 All pictures
#1: Looking up Silver Mine Valley toward the Confluence six kilometers away /在距离目的地六公里处遥望著银厂沟的远景。
#2: Other photos of Silver Mine Valley at the closest we got to it, 5.99 kilometers / 银厂沟内离交汇点5.99公里处的其他景色。
#3: Confluence Hunters: Xiaoerlang "Small Boy" Larry, Longchuan Li, Jie Deng, Naxin Chen, Xueying Peng, Wanhui Zhao, and Peter Snow Cao / 探点的队友们、小儿郎、李龙川、邓杰、陈纳新、彭雪英、赵万辉和曹雪磊。
#4: Group photo at the gate to Silver Mine Valley - Old Leaf cooking up noodles for the hungry confluence hunters /(I)在银厂沟大门口的团体照(II)老叶在为饥肠辘辘的队友们煮面。
#5: Log bridges and creaky ladders on the trail / 小径上的木棍桥和摇晃的梯子。
#6: Gold panners on the river / 河上的金夫子。
#7: Tibetan cowboys on their way to tend their 300 yaks / 前往照顾他们三百头耗牛的藏族牛郎们。
#8: Frozen waterfalls provided wonderful places to take a rest and shoot some photos / 冰瀑群提供了极佳的休憩处和极上镜头的风景照。
#9: Silver Mine Valley and more frozen waterfalls / 银厂沟和更多的冰封的瀑布。
#10: Larry's gifts and note where he turned around: "Larry returned from this point at 2:30 PM" and about soup for the last person back / 小儿郎的礼物和在他返航前的字条“我于两点半从此点开始往回航”和留给最
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)
  Plans
Wei Liu plans to visit this confluence between the 01-Mar-2014 and the 31-Dec-2015.
  Notes
In the Wolong National Natural Reserve, one of the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries.