The Hong Kong skyline, viewed from Hong Kong Island, gazing north over Victoria Harbour.
After more than 12 hours of travel and travel-related stress, bureaucracy, or general international-travel drudgery yesterday and after plodding like a pack mule overburdened with bags from Hong Kong to Shenzhen to Kunming, I am still exhausted. The past few days in Hong Kong, I have caught my mind whirling it's problem-solution wheels, as it seeks to sort out the challenges of this upcoming trek I have planned; beginning its calculations in the moments of waking and distracting me throughout the day, as if I have my own built-in mental mosquito which I can't seem to fend off, buzzing constantly and causing me to fret. I'm coming up against the inevitable murmers of doubt-- what took them so long to speak up? I thought I should be way more panicky about this trip than I have been for the past month or so; and yet, the details did not seem to be overly daunting until this week. In my attempt to ignore and stifle natural fears about this trip, I have coped through procrastination. Now, here I sit in Kunming, after successful application of the Chinese visa I have been so worried about obtaining -- due to my loose, rebellious tongue that repeats so many anti-communist rants on this blog.
Kunming is the Staging Point for my 1210km/751mi (I hope!) trek, where I will organize gear I need for the First Leg of my journey (I suppose I need to decide exactly what distance will comprise Leg #1), and eliminate gear unneeded until the Second Leg (perhaps starting in Bathang). On Friday, while I was in Hong Kong, a co-worker friend help me out tremendously by shipping a load of gear from Chengdu to Kunming; it arrived intact this morning! Yay, SF Express! And only 115rmb to ship three >10 kilo boxes (that's about 17usd)! Yay, friend! I was going to complete the rest of my shopping and prep here, then head to Dali and have that area serve as my Jump Point between wormholes. However, the forecast for rain has me reconsidering not only my entire route, but timing of the entrie trip! It's monsoon season. Last year, I hiked and traveled throughout Kham, and only recall a few rain days. But looking at the forecast (although it's hard to get accurate data in China--they don't want their weather secrets leaked, apparently), it shows a deluge for a month, throughout the entire area where I am supposed to be camping! Last year, I experienced a sun-drowned trek through the mountains, requiring sunscreen and lots of hydration! With the rain, comes the hazard of landslides and flooding, although my research shows not too much flooding will endanger me. The landslides are another story though, with Yunnan being a province with a propensity toward these muddy destroyers, and Sichuan carrying its weight in mud as a locale for both landslides (fewer) and earthquakes (more).
I've vetoed the idea of starting my trek in the rain: this trek is a major endeavor, and I must keep both my morale high and spirits up, especially at the beginning. Too many setbacks or problems at the outset may mar my outlook for the duration. Ideally, I want an easy start of a 5-10 miles each day in fair weather. I still do not have a planned route through Yunnan, as I consider my knowledge of the area sparse in comparison to my geographical familiarity with Kham region of Eastern Tibet (Ch. Western Sichuan). The terrain is similar but the altitude is much lower. I do not yet have a grasp on water sources as I have not had time to research tributaries and rivers running through the area (except for the Jinsha), running north-south through both provinces). Simply put, I had months to study the geographical features of Kham, and also feel a comradeship with the land since I have visited so often-- but Yunnan is unknown to me. Add to that the fact that I changed the Jump Point from Kangding/Bathang in Kham to Kunming/Dali in Yunnan. Simply not enough time was available to me to research the area and potential routes, since during the past few weeks I have been focused on moving, packing, and storage.
I will take a rest day today, since yesterday was an arduous travel day between Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Kunming ( more on that experience later). I'm also overwhelmed with the decisions that need to be made, along with the minimizing of my packed gear I will carry. Later, I'll work on route and plans and rain contingencies. I also need to get the last few pieces of necessary gear (or possibly unneccessary, but I believe I need them), so I'll wander around the city tomorrow and check out the outdoor gear stores. I need a Chinese Blind Massage and foot scrape before I start my trek; I'm still experienceing rib pain and my feet need to be prepped. Between the research and errands, I might extend my stay in KMG (Kunming) another day or two.
For those concerned about my health and safety, I will file a Flight Plan, aka POP (Personal Outdoor Plan)... hehehe ... love that! "Flight Plan" is more accurate than can be realized! ... with friends and family that includes route plans, stopover locales, and directives if I fall off a mountain. Hey, I am simply being realistic! Last year I escaped both a pack of wild dogs and HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema)! This year, who knows what's in store for me out in the wilds! My current plan is to trek until my 60-day visa entrance expires on September 27 -- or day hike when I'm tired or overwhelmed from my personal Walkabout (look up Australian Aboriginal culture) -- then fly somewhere for a house/pet sit gig for a few months while I wait out winter. I'm leaning toward a farmhouse in the Loire valley of France or someplace equally EPIC!
My I-Got-My-Chinese-Tourist-Visa Celebration dinner in Hong Kong at Olive, a Mediterranean restaurant.