Monday, May 21, 2012

SICHUAN

China Alive is the title of the week long excursions that each 9th and 10th grader attends in May.  There are adventure trips in Hong Kong, Surfing in Hainan, Sailing, Hiking, and much more all over the country.  Quinn and I ended up on the Sichuan high mountain trip.

Our crew at 13,000 feet in wet snow.  Unfortunately we were socked in.  The lake ahead is surrounded by snow-capped peaks that would be much more inviting in prettier weather.
Quinn gets some yummy tuna pasta at camp
We flew to Chengdu, political capital of Sichuan and the cuisine capital of china.  Food was hot, spicy and tasty.  From Chengdu we took a long bus ride to Ya'an, stayed overnight, and then an even longer bus ride through the mountains into Tibetan Sichuan to the city of Kangding at the base of the Gongga Snow Peak, 24,700 feet.

Rob with the caterpillar fungus gathering family outside their tent at 4,150 meters.
There was an unsuspected snow storm that forced us to change our route a bit.  After packing all of our gear up a valley for a night's camp, we were met be a group of small vans that carted us up to the top of a pass at 4,150 meters to begin the next days hike through a ravine to a lake.  This is tundra, above the timberline and it was cold, snowy, and windy.  About a mile into the hike, we see a "village" of a tents.  People are living up here.  Many of the dwellers come out to visit us.  They are a family, kids, parents, grandparents, who come up here for a few months each year during this season to harvest the "caterpillar fungus."  This is a chinese medicine that brings about $50,000 per pound on the market (That's more than gold, by the way.)  Check it out: NPR Story on Caterpillar Fungus: Click Here.  I ended up buying two of the little critters for about 7 bucks.  I plan to cook a healthy meal for the family....mmm mmmm good for ya!
although we were at the base of the tibetan plateau and the Himalayas, we were still a mere 15 day walk to Lassa. 
We stayed in a hotel at the green dot, park head quarters was the blue dot, and you can see the lake, at 4,100 meters at the end of the road.  



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