About three o’clock this morning, a thunderstorm passed by. I woke and started counting seconds. The closest strike was about three seconds, or a kilometre, away and the following roar resonated in my chest. There was some anxiety from that moment and the remainder of the night and today.
Andreas likes to keep his pack as light as possible. Therefore he uses a groundsheet as protection against rain. And rain is rare in these parts – particularly at this time of year. It turned out that the groundsheet was not completely waterproof and during the early hours of this morning the water had made the lower part of his sleeping bag wet.
When we woke he was pretty cold and found shelter in a small cave, while I packed up my tent. We sat in the cave together talking about our options. Andreas decided to return to Yulin after getting warm again, while I decided to walk on and see how the weather developed. We parted not knowing quite where or when we would meet again.
I back-tracked to the last place we had contact with The Wall, and turned northwards following it. The wet snow became dryer, but on higher ground the strong wind was blowing, so I needed to keep walking to stay warm. The visibility wworsdened as the snow got thicker. I saw some more earth erosion to the east of the Great Wall and followed a track going in the same direction to the north of it. After a while I hit a road with some abandoned houses and headed for them to get refuge from the wind and snow. Then I heard a bus beeping it’s horn behind me. I let it pass by without flagging it down, but not without a little regret.
After eating and drinking, I spent quite a while looking at my options. The snow that came today was forecast to come tomorrow. That made me concerned that perhaps the forecasted cold weather would come a day earlier too. The GPS map showed that there was a pretty long distance to the next potential place to get out of the area. All the same, I started walking along the Great Wall. But after only a short distance, I decided the snow had won the day and headed for the road. I tried to stop a small car, as these often function as taxis in rural areas. It drove past. A little later, the same small car came back with Andreas in the front seat! He had heard the taxi driver mentioning another foreigner, and Andreas asked him to head back. Thank you Andreas!
We got back to Yulin, and are now both dry and warm. We also had a good meal together tonight.
10 kilometres today.