the first day and a half, my road was quite bad, for skating. for trucks and minivans quite ok, and there were a lot of those. after the initial climb out of the shaxi valley, i skated all afternoon in a light drizzle. not enough rain to get me soaked, but enough to make the road slick. i camped out at the edge of a field

and was on the road again early, skating up up to the junction of the lijiang road. from there, it was an awesome downhill to the yangtze river, a brown, swiftly flowing snake of river slithering along a flatland between higher ranges, though not quite high mountains. i averaged 50km the first two days, then it seems i found my stride, and after camping the second night directly beside the river, i continued along the flats.

campsite by the yangtze

a fellow backpacker

the road did roll up and down the edge of the mountains, following the river west, but i kept on at a good clip. day four was also more mountainous, but with equal uphills ands downhills, passing into the tibetain areas in the afternoon. this was clear from the architectures, the people, different from the flat along the river.

crazy stinky Amorphophallus by the side of the road

first gopuram on the way

suprising myself, i made it to the bridge where i would cross over the yangtze and head up into the high mountains. that day i skated 70km and spent the night in a nice lodge at the top of the bridge. next morning, well rested, shaved and fed (on oats with milk and nescafe) i skated my base 50km, to the start of the first real climb of this trip. after a break, i charged on up, pushing, pushing, and in some spots walking it was so steep. up, up out of the gorge, i passed the 3000m mark i would guess, in the early evening.

the gorge getting steeper

all the villagers i asked on the way laughed at me, that i was afraid, when i asked about bears in the area. they said, only in the high forests…which incedentally i was passing through at dusk. the road went through really steep gorges, with no flat spot to camp to be seen, except for in thicket beside a running stream. as per bear-protection advice, not a good spot.

sweet jasmine near the top

finally in the high mountains!

sketching out a bit, i kept it up, and was rewarded almost at nightfall, as i rounded one bend 21km up the mountain, finding a little rest area restaurant majong camp, with little cabins. awesome! lucky! and the folks there fed me and quartered me in one of the little cabins, and laughed i should fear the bears. there are no bears in these parts.

in the night, i heard the wolves howling, which made the dogs in the yard go crazy barking and charging on their chains. so, no bears, but aparantly wolves. not so many, jusrt a small pack, by the sounds of them, with a higher pitched wail than north american wolves, a bit more like coyote, but with the same, forlorn, creepy “i’m gonna eat you, skater” feel, i was so glad to be in a cabin!

next day, i skated to the crossroads, another 5km straight up, and arrived less winded than i expected i would. this was my break spot, from here i caught a ride to shangrila, where i will rest for two nights. i need to get off the board and chill some, before heading back out to the crossroads to continue my journey on the skate.

here in shangrila (zhong dian) i was met by friends of friends, who stashed me in their guesthouse, and graciously allowed me to write a bit online. i await the use of the washing machine, oh, fresh socks and undies! strangely excited for that.

in the piazza, waiting for my friends, i met a couple of vermont guys, on their way back to beijing. i asked had they seen any camping gear store, where i might find some light sweater, as its a bit colder than i thought it would be at night. one guy, who also lives in beijing, and knew of penghao theatre, offered to loan me his down jacket, which stuffs down to a tiny package. incidentally, a patagonia nano puff jacket, exactly the thing i thought i might acquire before my trek, but funds prohibited. crazy cool, i’ll return it to him when back in beijing, and he was stoked, to art once have a bit more room in his backpack. am very thankful for that, and find it funny, how always i am reminded, so small the world is, that neighbors meet, far from home.

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