This has been a crazy day. I have walked a fair distance, little of it being flat. But in a straight line I have moved only 7.5 kilometres. A bit discouraging.
There have been deep scars in the landscape. In a couple of places, where the landscape around the Great Wall has been very steep, The Wall disappeared from my view.
A couple of times I have been using all fours to climb up and down places that have been extremely steep. One place I was following a sheep (or goat) trail that was only about thirty cm wide with a drop of many tens of metres at the side. This would have been impossible if it had rained the last couple of days.
I was lucky to find a very small shop to stock up on water. The take-away meal from yesterday has lasted all day, but tomorrow it is oatmeal again.
When following a dirt road today I came to a few houses in a row. I saw an old well with a wrench to pull up the water. While I was photographing it, an old lady stepped out of her fenced backyard. Quite a few of the people here, and particularly single women get scared when they see me coming.
This lady however, came straight over and started talking. I got her to stand by the well, and took some pictures. Then I asked her if there was a shop nearby. Unfortunately she didn’t understand. I could not understand her either. Quite a few of the people I have met lately have had a special dialect I think. When I asked how old she was, she lit up and answered 89 !
She led me into her house. There she had a frame full of mostly old black and white photographs. One of them was from when she was a young girl. Another of her and her husband. It was fun to think that she had photographs from almost a century in a frame on her wall.
Towards the end of the day I got to another steep valley and thought I would try my luck and get straight over. The river bed was about ten metres wide, but only running water in two or three metres width. I used the walking sticks every step of the way down. Then I started looking for a narrow spot to get over. When I thought I had found a good spot, I tested with a walking stick, and it immediately sank more than two feet! This was just the muddy section before the water in the river. I thought: No thanks. I didn’t want to walk back, so started to climb up again and had to use my knees a couple of times. I happily didn’t slip at all.
Just before I was going to set up the tent, a young shepherd came to greet me. He asked where I came from and told me I was the first white man he had ever seen before. Then he asked if I could take a picture of the two of us, and if I could send it to him. By the time we were finished it was almost dark. He asked if I wanted to spend the night at his family’s house, which was very kind, but the thought of walking down the hill with the rucksack in so dark conditions was not tempting, as I would have to return again tomorrow.
Staying on this top also let me send off the GPS signal for the day. I hope you are enjoying them, because I had to climb the beacon tower close by to find a spot with good ‘satellite visability’. It was very dark, and I lost the device climbing down, and almost slipped in the process.
22 kilometres today