Cold and wet boots

Blue fantastic skies this morning too. Nothing better than to wake up to a warm sun knocking on the tent door after a fairly cold night.

I use a down winter sleeping bag and the down has a tendency to move to the top part of the sleeping bag after some days usage. Before I went to sleep yesterday, I knocked some down to the bottom part. Looks like I did the job too well, because it was cold on the top last night for the first time ever.

This morning my feet became wet when the boots warmed up. My boots had a thick layer of melted snow and mud on them last evening. This morning they were rock solid ice.

I had placed them so as to stop the tent entrance flapping too much in the strong wind. There was no snow last night, but I wonder if the humidity inside the boots turned to ice before it evaporated. The other alternative is that they are not as Gore-Tex’y now as when I started using them. I hope for the first option. They are beside me now above a radiator slowly drying out.

The goal for the day was Shahukou as I could hitch a ride to a place where I could stock up on food both in the rucksack and in my stomach. At what I thought was the end of the day, a middle sized river separated me from Shahukou. By this time my cold and wet feet made me feel cold as soon as I stopped. I walked along the river looking for a place to get over. Got over to an island half way, but found no crossing point to the last half. I considered taking off the boots and wading, but there was still ice on the river in places, and I didn’t like the prospect of standing on ice as it broke under my bare feet. Ice can be as sharp as glass if one is unlucky. I took the safe (and boring) alternative and walked 5-6 kilometres crossing over a bridge to the north.

By the time I got to a guesthouse, all I could think of was warming my feet. Luckily, the Chinese always have hot water at hand, so soon I had both feet in a bucket of hot water. Felt like a lovely spa.

I have just finished two whole dinners, and have drunk 2.5 litres after arriving at Shahukou. Starting to feel normal again.

My mind has played a trick on me. I have started calling Shanxi Shaanxi. The former is the province I am in now. It is pronounced with the first tone (high and flat), and this seems longer to me than Shaanxi which is written with the third tone (low falling and then rising). Next time, I’ll just have to remember the first sign of Shanxi which means mountain and is pronounced with the first tone. (This won’t make that much sense to those that don’t understand a little Chinese.)

Speaking of mountains. I descended from 1750 metres above sea level to about 1450 today. In only a few days time, I will see the flat plains north of Datong in front of me. With a few exceptions, they last until Hebei – the next province.

24 kilometres today