My way home
Part III: Qinghai (1047 – 2285 km)
Part III: From Lanzhou to Qinghai Lake, crossing the Qilian mountain range and finishing in the Hexi Corridor
After receiving my visa extension from the Public Security Bureau in Lanzhou, my next stop was Xining. Xining marks the Eastern border to the of the Qilian montain range with peaks up to more than 5800 m. Landscape-wise, the way from Lanzhou to Xining was quite similar to what I had seen before, but getting more to the West, I noticed more and more Muslim minorities such as Hui and Uyghur.
From Xining, I cycled to Qinghai Lake, which is located at 3200 m in a hollow of the Tibetan Plateau. Qinghai Lake is a closed hydrologic system with an influx from 23 rivers from the surrounding mountains and an outflow mainly through evaporation (endorheic basin). The landscape was of incredible beauty and vastness. Later I learnt that in recent years, climate change has increased rainfall in the region, leading the lake to grow and reach a record size in 2017. Grasslands around the shore of the lake have been flooded, thus negatively affecting the lives of local herdsman.
From Hayan, I had a little dog following me for more than two days. First, she was able to follow me, because I was slowly going up the mountains, later I waited for her to catch up. She was super excited about the bike and always started running as soon as I was moving. In the night after, she stayed in the tent with me. We had heavy rainfall and I awoke in a big puddle. I had forgotten to put the edges of the tarpaulin that I always place the tent on under the tent, so that the water from the roof was flowing under the tent. We were completely soaked and she dog was shivering. I took her into the sleeping bag and we warmed each other. Unfortunately, I nevertheless ended up with a big cold for the net days. She followed me for about 80 kilometers (two and a half days) in total, staying in the tent with me for another night. I shared my food with her and also bought her some meat. In the end, I had to leave her behind, because she was just to slow and I had to move forward. It was heartbreaking. For photos of the dog, scroll down to the end of the page.
From Qinghai Lake, I cycled further up the Qilian mountain range, passing Haita’er mountain (3869 m), the villages Reshui and Molezhen and Dadongshu mountain大冬树山 pass (4120 m). Landscapes and sunsets were dramatic, unlike anything I had seen before. The few scattered dwellings were mainly inhabited by Tibetan herdsmen, keeping sheep, goats and yaks. It really touched me.
In Reshui I had the first unpleasant encounter with the police who basically forced me to leave the town. Reaching Qilian town gave me the chance to recover for three days from the cold I had caught in the first night with the dog in the tent. I went on cycling another 80 km in the central mountain range, but then got deported out of the mountain range, 285 km with emergency lights to Zhangye in Gansu (Hexi Corridor). This way, I had reached flat terrain, mainly straight streets, highly frequented, especially with trucks. In the end, alternating head and side winds forced my speed down to 6-8 km/h. Further cycling was pointless and I hitchhiked the last 120 km to the Xinjiang border.
Tour part III data:
- distance: 1232 km
- time riding: 69 hours / 13 days