Meili Snow Mountain - Pilgrimage Trek
Oct 7, 2007
We decided to head towards the Meili Snow Mountain range which is the eastern part of the Himalayan mountains to do a trek. We traveled on the road from Shangri-La to Lhasa (Tibet) to the Kawa Karpo Mountains to do a trek along the old Buddhist pilgrim trail to Miancimu mountain and Buddhas Head, the trail ends at a glacier which cascades into a waterfall.
Deqin was the beginning of the trail and its referred to as the wild west of Yunnan, the last outpost before Tibet. The bus trip to Deqin was fantastic climbing higher and higher into the Himalaya around narrow one lane twisting roads. The scenery is amazing there is lots of vegetation diversity due to the high rainfall in some valleys and very little in others. Unfortunately due to Maos "great leap forward" (which was actually the reverse), a huge amount of deforestation and loss of native fauna occured, the result is that in much of the populated parts of China ther is little native fauna left. The largest native animal we saw was a squirrel and birds were just sparrows and ravens. The trek was going to take us through some of the last old growth forest in the region.
Not all those on our bus shared our enthusiasm, two Tibetans in the back seat took turns at the window throwing up (some times in tandem) for the whole 6 hour trip, I was surprised they weren't inside out by the time we arrived! Mels family would be astonished to know that Mel stayed the same colour and enjoyed the entire trip without even a gas burp!
Deqin was fantastic we took a stroll in the town at evening and got encompassed in a street party where the local Tibetans were playing string instruments and dancing in a big circle they were all laughing at how badly "whiteys" can dance!
Nik's knees were a little dodgy we decided to take the opportunity of taking donkeys along the toughest part of the pilgrim trek. This was great as it gave us time to enjoy the scenery instead of staring at our boots. Along the pass we encountered large numbers of Tibetans making the pilgrimage and even larger numbers of Chinese, high points were covered in colourful prayer flags with everyone in high spirits.
We eventually arrived in Yubeng village with a fantastic vista of mountains and glaciers. The next day we walked through an old growth forest that we named the "Enchanted forest" with huge pines and Rotodendron trees it looked like the mossy wet forests in Tasmania. The forest fairys got hold of Nik and she spent the rest of the day there. Mel and I kept walking towards the waterfall at the end of the glacier. Eventually we got there and celebrated as all pilgrims do by taking a glacier shower under the waterfall. The water is supposed to be sacred and the purest water around. On the way back we took some of the water to a little old woman monk that lived high up in a little temple on a rock face. She was so lovely she reminded me of my grand mother.
There is an old Chinese saying that says " There are seven necessities of Chinese life, firewood, rice, oil, salt, soybean sauce, vinegar and tea, without these people cannot survive. I'd substitute soybean sauce and vinegar for lamb and cold beer, and thats exactly what we did!
Back at Yubeng we conspired with 6 Chinese to purchase a sheep and cook the whole lot Tibetan style. We had no idea what to expect but this is how you do it. Char grill the legs and ribs with some veg what is not eaten goes back to the kitchen, part of the leftovers is then turned into a soup which is served next, after that all the other leftovers are turned into a sheep stew for the final serve.
As some of you (Matt) are aware every time we go trekking Nik has some unfortunate incident, this time was no exeption! After the dinner Nik and I accidentally walked off the path going between the guesthouse and the toilet, or to be completely correct I fell off first and as I was holding Nik at the time as it was dark I dragged her with me. I hit the path below and bounced while Nik struck a tree stump on the way down. The result was a severe gash under her knee that needed stitches.
To cut a long story short (there was a pun there) we made it back to Deqin with Nik hardly having to walk at all. She was treated at the local hospital by a Tibetan nurse that we named " The Iron Lady from the Long March". She came across as a field army nurse, after our concerns that she was going to stitch Nik's knee up without anesthetic she consented to give Nik an injection and then quickly with military precision she gave her 5 stitches, through a pale, sweating and stressed face Nik explained to us that the anesthetic had not yet had time to kick in..........maybe in the taxi on the way back to the guesthouse!
Glen, Mel and Nik.