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Hiking the Roo f of the World


Text by Wu Xia

Last October, I spent two days hiking through a 26-kilometer section of Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, the highlight of the canyon trek route, with the Outdoor Association of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Beautiful Snow Mountain

As we crept over Segrila Pass at 4,700 meters above sea level, someone in our Jeep shouted, “The mountain at two o’clock is Namcha Barwa Peak!”

The Jeep parked at Baifengtai Pass where we would begin our trek.

At first, I didn’t mind the dizziness caused by the altitude’s thin air, nor did I slow my pace. I threw a lump of chocolate in my mouth and kept going, but walking became increasingly difficult. Soon, I couldn’t even hear the wind over the thunderous thumping of my own heart. In the distance, layer upon layer of navy blue mountains extended as far as the eye could see, with the white rapids of Yarlung Zangbo River snaking through them. However, I was in no mood to appreciate the scenery. I could only see and feel the road under my feet stretching endlessly before me.

After crossing a mountain pass, we discovered a tranquil lake sparkling light bluish green across its 50-meter-wide surface. Before we could reach it, icy balls of hail suddenly began falling from the sky, and the lake’s peacefulness disappeared. I pulled down the visor of my hat, lowered my head and inched forward carefully. As soon as I became comfortable walking that way, I found myself bathed in warm sunlight ?a all within 15 minutes. I looked back and found the lake once again as peaceful as before.

When dusk approached and the sun dipped behind the mountains, the roar of Yarlung Zangbo River became louder and more distinct. The mountain road became harder to hike since more and more fallen trees blocked the path.

We didn’t reach our campsite until 10 o’clock in the evening. Stars twinkled above as we sat around the warm campfire, and I used my last ounces of strength to timidly sip some hot soup. All I felt like doing was stumbling into the tent to pass out.

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