the past week has been some of the heaviest terrain of this trek yet, definitely some more intense alpine skating, from litang to xiangcheng…

the skate out of litang was a dusty affair, and every time I take a rest day, the first fifteen kilometers when I start out again seem hard fought, hard won. but won nonetheless, leaving me above 4000 meters to skate, four days, across a most remarkable landscape. it began with a mosey through several valleys, along one emerald green river…

the first climb arrived around midday the first day. up, up, onto a boulder strewn mountainside, I followed a roiling stream into the evening. camped out at around 4400m,

i met with rabbit mountain at noon the next day. the last bit to the pass I clamoured up the stones rather than push the switchbacks. 4700m and the wind was blowing up a wild one, but I still managed to brew a coffee.

a short downhill led to the vale of emptiness, this bleak space between giants.

nowhere to go other than on, on, the second pass proved a lengthy push into the evening through the most bizarre landscape: great boulders, peat bogs, lakes, sumpf and springs, brittle cold, all around and above 4600m.

some excited passing Chinese tourists stopped and gave me chocolate and instant noodles. likely they didn’t realize that those noodles represented freedom to me: freedom to camp where I please and not have to chase down the Swiss cyclists who also had offered me noodles, or press on to try and find some homestead or store in search of something to eat. I wasn’t totally without food, but I had eaten hot oatmeal for breakfast and cold meussli for lunch, the noodles with some sausage cut in made for a welcome change.

I camped high in the wetlands in a bed of peat, a bit cold with hoarfrost covering my world in the morning, but more awesome for it. not a soul around, strange ducks in the lake, ice cold water, only an occasional truck on the road. this was prime wilderness skate trekking.

not to be outdone by rabbit mountain, the next behemoth, noname mountain, with its pass at 4700m came as a suprise. after lunch the following day I started up the slopes, and faced again the decision to push up 17km of switchbacks or hike it, so I was off-road again, a three hour hike to the first pass.

then long along this moonscape of earth and stone, through another valley of the lost minds, mine perhaps among them, in passing.

atop the pass, wind again, and a hardcore rough but paved and still skateable road down.

descending just a bit, camping in an awesome spot…so awesome i was late (10 o’clock) on the road the next morning…

down, down the maxiang valley, awesome beautiful…windbraking, breathtaking, sketchy descending a bumpy road, and a long river skate. litang to xiangcheng, altogether a run of 204 km, an absolutely crazy amazing badass skate!

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