Progressing through the mountain pass it would seem we have left the tunnels behind. The slopes surrounding us in this valley are covered in patches of juniper and cedar—their bold green clumping together—with reds, oranges, and yellows of various other deciduous trees carpeting the hillsides. The discussion that took up most of the day as we walked through this beautiful valley was how to differentiate a mountain from a hill. The answer we found was less spectacular than the views and the continuous villages that skirted the road. The valley—more of a collection of valleys, really—has fresh streams everywhere, all of which look clean enough to drink from (we’ll still filter if we need it, just to be safe). Our road follows the contours of the valley and meanders from side to side with a massive freeway looming over-head only ever leaving our view to slip through the mountains that has been tunneled out to accommodate the traffic and freight. The weather today was warm and sun-filled with blue skies. Tonight we are camped next to an abandoned building in a village we were told was okay for us to spend the night. Camp was up and dinner was had before the sun went down—and a good thing too as the evening chill immediately set in. As I began writing this, shushu (Chinese for uncle) returned to sit and talk. He had been hanging out with us several times through out our camp chores and enjoyed, it would seem, inspecting our set-up. He advised us that it gets very cold at night and graciously invited us into his home. We traded glances with each other and of our camp and decided to try to explain we would be fine camping and did not want to intrude. We ended up talking about his name（刘正云）and the name of the tallest near by mountain（牛魔山）as well as asking him where he was from and creating a nice conversation about many things. The campsite was a grassy flat patch with villages homes a stone’s throw away, but still offered a bit of privacy. There were two small valleys converging on the part of the village that we camped in. One leading northwest revealing the tallest nearby mountain and one leading to the northeast. The locals regularly stopped in either to checkout the new-comers or to chitchat a bit. Even the cows and chickens paid us a visit. The freeway that soared through the valley ran in an east-west orientation on the other side of the valley and was far enough above us that the sounds echoed into the distance and were drowned out by the babbling stream.
Distance: 17 km
Total Distance: 311 km
End: Camping in Deshixia Village（得食下）
Written by Pat