Heinrich Handel-Mazzetti: [A Botanical Pioneer In South West China] - chapter 9
Chapter 9. From Chuxiong via Huili to Yanyuan and back to Kunming
Resumption of work flowers of the steppe salt mining low lying country of the Yangzi valley j on Mount Longzhu Shan again lush subtropical flora on the Yalong the caravan's mishapsj autumn on the Huangliangzi (4075m) back through the Jianchang
When I arrived in Chuxiong on 31st August I went straight to the telegraph office and was relieved to find the consul-general's reply awaiting me: "Return impossible, recommend remain China".
There was now no time to retrace my steps and resume my original plan. I was not willing to be swayed by hypothetical fears that the war might imperil the safety of Europeans in Chins I at least [p.45:] not until there was real evidence of such danger. I therefore decided to make for the nearest accessible high mountains, namely those around Yanyuan in Sichuan, so as to study the high alpine flora in the eastern part of that district which had not been sufficiently developed on our first visit in the spring and compare it with the flora on the western side. But first I had to spend four days in Chuxiong to give my caravan a rest, to buy new paper and have it folded and to prepare for the next stage of the journey. I had engaged a second coolie as a collector; next morning he was nowhere to be found and ultimately turned up in a drugged state from opium. In Guangtong I therefore took on another named Jin Jingwen, who proved extremely useful. As the tent would not be necessary in the district I planned to visit I sent it back to Kunming together with the dried plants in the charge of a mafu to whom I sold the two limping ponies. One of them he resold at once for a good profit, and by the next day the other was no longer limping. I got in touch with Herr Weiss [note #43: In 1908 Weiss made a journey from Chengdu to Tatsienlu and into Tibet. He was the first European to cross the 4100 m Dangling pass in the Silhatshan chain. See Limpricht, W. Botanische Reisen in den Hochgebirgen Chinas und Ost-Tibets. Berlin, 1922.], the German consul in Kunming who had been appointed in April, and at last received news of the war more favourable to our cause. I also visited the Chuxiong magistrate, an old gentleman who pretended to be greatly astonished at my having come without an official escort. He kept reverting to this topic even when I remarked on the cleanliness of his town, but ultimately he provided the usual escort of one or two soldiers, and caused no further annoyance. On the evening of 4th September I successfully photographed an almost total eclipse of the moon from the yard of the inn where I was lodging quite a tolerable hostelry right in the middle of the town.
To reach Yanyuan I had to continue along the Kunming road to a point beyond Guangtong [note #44: In 1960 Guangtong ceased to be a Xian and was included in Lufengxian (SGH).] and then turn northwards to Huili. Delivered at last from the nightmare of call-up for military service, I now felt able to devote my attention to the plants, and there was indeed much of interest, for late summer, in the rainy season, is the flowering time of the grasses and herbaceous perennials of the steppe.
More or less uniformly distributed, in some places densely crowded, but nowhere matted into wide areas of unbroken turf, the erect grasses of the steppe grow in many-stemmed clumps. Heteropogon contortus has long sharp hygroscopic awns, and after the seeds drop they curl up into bundles which often remain hanging on the stalks for a long time; Themeda triandra has several handsome wedge-shaped pendent spikelets on long stalks; Cymbopogon nardus has tufts of narrow spikelets covered with silvery hairs; similar in appearance but always tinged with red is Andropogon delavayi, usually just as abundant and just as striking; and the brownish-green Arundinella setosa has its panicles arranged in whorls. The average height of all these grasses is 70cm, and the perennials and dwarf shrubs of the steppe grow to the same level; scattered in small numbers among them is the beautiful Erian-thus fiilvus, a grass with a coppery-red sheen, which grows to more than twice their height Osbeckia capitals (Melastomataceae) is a sub-shrub which has a thick woody stock but is otherwise for the most part herbaceous; it has small opposite leaves and gorgeous large pink flowers with long yellow stamens projecting from them. There were several low growing true shrubs of the pea family, mostly like broom with racemes or spikes of flowers in various shades of red and pink. The orchids included Habenaria loloorum with dense spikes of small yellow flowers, Spathoglottis fortune! with lax racemes of larger yellow flowers pencilled with brown, and Bletilla yunnanensis with pink flowers. There were various species of Swertia with numerous blue or violet bell-shaped flowers in pyramidal panicles,, and Cyanotis tuberosa, a blue "Tradescantia". On the shady banks of the sunken tracks there was a luxuriant growth of herbaceous plants and ferns, notably twa species of Hedychium a genus related to ginger with long spikes of large, short-lived flowers white in H. spicatum and white with brickred markings in H. acuminatum and two twiners, Ipomaea hederacea with large purple flowers and /. hungaiensis with numerous smaller yellow flowers; also the white Thunbergia fragrans, mimicking our bindweed, the bean-like Pueraria peduncularis and P. edulis, and the inconspicuous yams Dioscorea bulbifera and D. submollis. Growing among them was the tall grass Rottboellia exaltata with disintegrating cylindrical spikes, and the less conspicuous Setaria forbesiana. Themeda gigantea, a grass up to 4m tall, grew along ditches and streams. Along the route, especially between Chuxiong and Guangtong, the hillsides were clothed by forests of pine, Keteleeria and evergreen oak, together with Castanopsis delavayi, a tree with faintly silvery leaves and clusters of soft spined fruits. On the ascent to our first night's halt at Guangtong I found the small parasitic but non-twining Peperomia reflexa growing on a Castanopsis trunk. Just as I was somewhat noisily setting up the tripod to photograph it, a mounted officer dressed in the rather womanish plain clothes of a Chinese civilian came riding round the corner. He was obviously horrified, asked my servant what I was doing and tried to tell me that I had no right to take photographs in China. When he saw that I was not going to take any notice of him, he shouted the command "Attention" probably the only European word that he knew. On the descent into the next valley I found Magnolia delavayi now in full bloom, though its huge scented white flowers like partly open chalices almost hidden among the profusion of its large leathery leaves can be seen in ones and twos at other times of the year. At this spot I quitted the Kunming road and followed the stream northwards.
Here, on the southern slope of the watershed between the Red River and the Yangzi Jiang, was the salt-producing village of Alaojing, ind further to the northeast, beyond the 2400m ridge but still on the upper reaches of a stream flowing back to the Red River, was a salt-works town called Houyanjing. These two places, together with Heijing situated on [p.46:] the Longchuan Jiang further northwest, supplied all the salt required in the capital of the province. In Houyanjing I was given some substantial lumps of grey rocksalt However, the finished product, produced in the same way as at Maoguoyanjing in Sichuan, was pure white the best salt that I saw in China. The towns themselves, densely populated by coolies, were extraordinarily dirty, and the dark stone walls of the tall government buildings, the smoke-blackened brine works and the piles of brushwood, cut for fuel and stacked higher than the houses, left a gloomy impression. Botanically, the track over the sandstone ridge was of some interest, even though nearly all the forest had been felled; on the moist soil watered by the abundant summer rain the shrubs evidently grew up again quite swiftly. At the roadside there was a rich vegetation of willowherb, teasels (Dipsacus aster), Carex cruciata, valerian, Pedicularis polyphylla, Phtheirospermum chinense, resembling a lousewort, and two species of Polygonum, one of them a sprawling climber. Butterflies with grey-white chequering (Arichanna jaguararia) had settled in large numbers on a flat rock by the road, and they sat so still, with their wings flattened against the rock, that I was able to take an unhurried photograph. The large long-tailed light green butterfly Actias selene ningpoana also occurred in the vicinity.
My route continued north-northeast across an upland tract intersected with valleys and covered by the usual forests. In the Lithocarpus woodland I made one or two delightful finds, including the small tree Scheffiera delavayi with large grey-green palmate leaves, which I saw here for the first time with (still young) flowers. In the garden hedges of the scattered villages Etythrina arborescens was putting forth scarlet clusters of butterfly flowers among its large trifoliate leaves. It was quite a narrow track, but even in that lonely country the route was indicated by marker stones at the forks and crossings and although often overgrown by scrub they enabled us to find the right path. As we went down into the little basin of Yangjie I encountered plants vf lower altitudes, among them begonias (B. sinensis and B. henryi); Petrocosmea nervosa, a violet-like Gesnerad; and the slender twining StreptolMon longifolium with waxy pink stem tips ramifying at right angles into racemes with flowers of the same colour, the lower, seedbearing flowers each resting on a large bract The shade required by these plants was provided by various climbers Tripterygium forrestii, Porana mairei and Cynanchum otaphyllum and the non-woody twiners Apios camea and Codonopsis forrestii, which scrambled over the bushes and smaller trees, often bending them down by their weight.
Yangjie, our fourth night stop after leaving Chuxiong, sticks in my mind as one of the worst lodgings of my travels, where I had to climb a breakneck ladder into a tiny, smoke-filled attic, sweltering hot and full of fleas although it was situated above the stable. Just after leaving the village the track turned down into the Majie basin, a large depression filled with marl, gravel and sand. The Keteleeria woods continued for some distance on this subsoil, that species and the prickly Juniperus formosana showing signs of damage by a leafless mistletoe with jointed stems, Arceuthobium chinense, Then came a zone of grey thorny scrub, but down in the basin there was nothing but bairren steppe. The floor of the depression was intersected by countless dried-up watercourses in the Arab countries of the Near East they would be called wadis and displayed earth pyramids and other formations produced by weathering. The sky was overcast and I doubted whether photographs of this broken and confused landscape, used in conjunction with the reverse views to be taken next morning from the low ridge beyond Yuanmou, would be clear enough for a survey of the basin. But that night it rained; next day everything was shrouded in mist and photography was out of the question. Below Majie we reached the Longshuan Jiang (Dsolin-ho) flowing towards us from Chuxiong. Late that evening, while I was in my lodgings in Hailuo, there came a knock at the door. It was GueYin, a Frenchman whom I had met in Xichang that spring. He had been recalled for military service and had had to leave the Yi country; he subsequently lost his life in the war. We got on very well together; next morning one of my packhorses died the one which had been treated for colic and as I had to lighten the loads I was able to give him some minor items of equipment
The route now trended gradually downwards, the river valley became rocky and more deeply cut, and there were outcrops of granite as well as mica-schist with quartz. It harboured a rich xerophytic flora including Didissandra conlatula, the sky-blue Commelina kurzii and masses of Cyperus niveus, a sedge with white inflorescences. At midday we came to the ferry over the Jinsha Jiang at Longjie. The boat pitched and rolled in the fast running river, and the men had difficulty in calming the animals, which they did by splashing water in their faces. On the far side of the river the ground was flat and sandy, and there were large colonies of the tall grass Erianthus trichophyllus, a new species with large silvery panicles. The path ran northwards up a dry ravine, and then wound steeply up its eastern side on to the ridge which bordered it Once again, there were some interesting woody plants among the scrub: Clematis delavayi, not a climber but an erect shrub with small leaves with silvery hairs, and Brandisia racemosa, its overhanging branches carrying small clusters of long scarlet flowers which gleamed in the last rays of the setting sun.
Jiangyi was 1000m higher than the river, and for the next three days the track led along the eastern edge of a low chain of barren sandstone hills, wli ere there were veins of coal and copper, and over the equally dismal tableland from Tongan to Huili. One of the inns was so dirty and festooned with cobwebs in such profusion that I felt impelled to take a photograph with suitable lighting simply iis a record. Several grassland orchids were in flower and beside a brook, on rock slabs kept moist by spray, I found the tiny pink-flowered Utricularia orbiculuta, but otherwise this stretch did not offer much of interest.
In Huili I had a rest day and on 16th Septeml)er paid another visit to Mount Longzhu Shan to learn more of its flowering plants, as they had not b;en sufficiently developed in the spring. Elaborite preparations were not necessary, as I already knew the route. The magistrate gave me just one soldier, [p.47:] as guarmtor rather than escort, a fellow who had no badge or insignia to proclaim the dignity of his office ;md was without headgear of any kind. Two packhoises sufficed for my kit. As it was the only route up the mountain I followed the track we had taken in March. Up on the ridge some children were watching their flocks, and one of their foals trotted along after my horses almost as far as Jifangkou, with a Yi girl behind it. We caught the foal, intending to hand it over to the shepherdess, but she was afraid to come near. As we went further and further downhill she became more and more dismayed, until at last she timidly approached, snatched the halter and ran off with the foal.
The range of flowering plants which I saw during the ascent was miserably poor, and a visit to the summit next morning yielded very little more. One plant of special interest was the twining blue Aconitum bulbilliferum, a new species of monkshopd and the only one of its genus which has bulbils in the axils of its upper leaves. The low-growing but robust orchid Satyrium ciliatum with inverted flesh-pink flowers and deflexed bracts of the same hue was frequent, and Codonopsis forrestii with its saucer-shaped blue flowers scrambled among the golden tufts of moss on the shrubs and bamboos. Since the summit region of Mount Longzhu Shan (3675m) was unforested whether because of its volcanic rock, its exposure to wind or more probably because the trees had been felled it seemed higher than it really was; in fact it is considerably below the higli alpine zone, and the absence of limestone has discouraged the evolution of a diversified flora. The mountain's most pleasing feature was the array of mosses and lichens, and on closer study it furnished many specimens to add to my earlier collection. Lower down the late flowers of the heath meadows were unfolding in profusion, but I noted hardly anything which I had not seen before. One new find, however, was Hydrangea macrocarpa, with a downy covering on the undersides of its leaves, but its flowers had gone over.
In Huili I soldered up my herbarium specimens in tin boxes and left them with the innkeeper. On 20th September I set out for Yanyuan, taking the track marked on Davies' map via Puwei (Pudi-dschou), though having no inkling of the problems which the pack animals would face on this route. After an ascent of only 800m it crossed the rather bare crest to the south of Mount Longzhu Shan and plunged down into the deep valley of the Aiming He. Alongside a stream the track had sunk below ground level, and no one had bothered to mend it One of our horses slid straight into the mud-filled channel and sank belly-deep into the mire, from which we had some trouble in extricating it. Oroxylum indicum, a small scantily-branched tree belonging to the Bignoniaceae, with large bipinnate leaves triangular in outline and woody pods 70cm in length dangling from long upright stalics (Fig.12), was growing there among luxuriant spreading umbrella-shaped bushes of Phyllanthus emblica. Intending to collect some of the pods, Pen climbed up the tree, unwound his turban, tied the trowel to it and threw it at them. On the first attempt he missed his aim and made a gash in Jin's head. Jin promptly picked a few leaves from the wayside plants, among which
I noticed Medicago lupulina, and used them to dress the wound.
Next morning we crossed the Arming He above Panglingkou. It was quite narrow, but, viewed from the ferryboat, it created a strange impression, rushing down towards us in a short level stretch, smooth and brimful, and then foaming over the large round boulders which made its steeply inclined bed. Our route then ran northwest, climbing gradually up a broad cultivated valley. The huge subtropical Bombax malabarica was growing near the houses. Then came a little ravine; I was busy with various tasks, and when I caught up with the caravan the mafu had halted although it was only half past five and he was far short of the intended halting place, and had unloaded outside a house where we could not possibly spend the night and where there was no space or forage for the horses. The people said that three li further on there was a village with several inns. I told him to load up again and rode on with my men in front of me. The guide whom we took with us ran off when we reached the next house, but we found a substitute in another house further on. They were simple peasant houses; the occupants would not take us in and were not exactly friendly. As it was a cloudy night it soon grew pitch dark, but ' -at last in a village called Banshan a friend of the Protestant missionaries in Xichang invited us into his house, which proved quite passable. There were no inns there. The caravan finally arrived at half past nine, guided by men with torches who had been sent to meet it Excepting the bundle of pressed plants, all the loads were wet through, allegedly because they had fallen into the water when a wooden bridge collapsed.. Next morning was therefore spent in drying thiem, and it was midday before we set off for Puwei,. aifter the local police chief, summoned by cannon shots to some official function, had sat down beside me, peering out of the corner of his eye at my tattered travelling coat, and we had both shared a ceremonious reception.
The track led through a little ravine where the dainty Didymocarpus stenanthos was growing on the sandstone rocks, through oak forest where the undergrowth was full of the imposing Begonia taliensis with large red-bordered leaves mottled with white and divided into pointed lobes, over a low col covered with pines and finally along a valley to Puwei. The col lies on the watershed between the Aiming He and the Yangzi, an inconspicuous ridge of red sandstone less than 2000m in altitude, flattened and divided into irregular tracts, though down in the valley the rock is grey in colour and there is a low ridge of limestone blocks which demarcates the small plain of Puwei. Next morning, as we passed the recently harvested ricefields, the dry stubble made an extraordinary crackling sound as it burst and split in the warmth of the sun. In some places it was audible from the track, and when I stepped on to the ricefield and bent down it was almost continuous.
The route now ran down along the steep valleyside, first on the clay-slate which is always found in the deep river valleys and later on micaceous quartz-diorite. Near the Yalong the track became very bad and narrow, but in the humid air the plant life was subtropical, rich and unspoiled. This was the only occasion in that year on which I [p.48:] encountered such greenhouse conditionSj although the temperature at midday was only 23 C Bowed down by enormously numerous though individually delicate leaves and panicles, the slender hollow whorled stems of Andfopogon assimilis, a grass several metres tall, arched over the hillside. The bushes (Cinnamomum delavayi) were interlaced with the sprawling Mussaenda simpliciloba, a new species, its narrow orange yellow flowers made conspicuous by snow white bracts, together with the twining Polygonum aubertii with profuse yellowish white panicles, and Sfreptolirion volubile. With my Browning pistol I shot a large eagle-owl which foolishly loitered near the track in broad daylight. That evening it was skinned and salted, and the skin was tied on to one of the loads to dry, though unfortunately it was torn to shreds later when the load fell off. We halted for the night at Lanba on a ridge before the Yalong. The caravan was again late in arriving, and the load containing the kitchen crate, campbed and blankets was missing. It had fallen off at some rocks where the track was built up into steps, and had tumbled down into a stony gully, and as dusk was coming on the men had left it there. The horse had been held back by its bridle. I was happy to find that Lanba had recently been burnt to the ground, and the bedsteads, straw mats and eating utensils belonging to the Chinese villagers were consequently brand new and if necessary one can always live on rice. However, the accommodation was so cramped that I had to share the room with the coolies. Apprehensive that they might adopt a somewhat antagonistic attitude to my demand to make more space for me in the room, and probably remembering that I liked to sleep outside Chinese houses, Wang had the impudence to say to me: "Sleep just outside the door", though the eaves gave hardly any shelter and the blackness of the sky heralded an approaching rainstorm.
Next morning the first task was to recover the lost load. The kitchen box was shattered into a thousand fragments, but we found everything. The cooking pots were somewhat dented and the provisions (sugar, tea, bread, etc.) had been soaked by the rain. While supervising this work I noticed a tree which I had seen before in similar places on the Yalong and above the bridge at Zi Ujiang. Its round leaves had a greasy lustre and here to my delight I found its inconspicuous pendulous spikes with reflexed fruits, which enabled me to identify it after my return to Austria as Hymenodictyon flaccidum, a rare species of Rubiaceae.
At midday I rode ahead of the caravan to the ferry over the Yalong, somewhat less than two hours distant The path was very narrow and in several places I had to widen it with my ice axe, the haft of which had long ago been split by such misuse. I waited at the ferry under a spreading banyan tree, at a spot from which I could see far back along the route. Sandstone strata with bands of quartz were exposed in a vertically compressed sequence from north-northeast to south-southwest. To pass the time I put a thermometer into the windblown sand beside the river. Heated by the sun, its temperature was 46.5°C Four o'clock came and there was still no sign of the mafu. There was now no prospect of getting everything across the river, and as there was no accommodation at the ferry I had to go back and
see what was wrong. I found him sitting on the path; after stopping to widen a narrow place he had unloaded the horses and settled down to cook his rice. This was the only time that Wang displayed any spark of vigour: he gave the rice pot a kick und it went rolling down the hillside. I told the scoundrel that he would certainly not receive any gratuity for good conduct, but I should really have given him a good thrashing. We had to go back to Lanba, where Wang subsequently admitted to me that that very morning the mafu had said that if I went in front he was not going to follow, as the path was so bad. "The next day (25th September) I stayed behind the caravan and though the boxes had to be unloaded and carried in two places all went well as far as the ferry at Datiaogu. Moving with oriental slowness the ferry carried first the five loads, myself, Wang, the two plant collectors, the "soldier" and my pony; then after bringing three pack animals the boat went back with the mafu to fetch the remaining packhorses iind the servant's horse. As soon as they reached the bank the boat, which had already been taking a good deal of water, sprang a large leak. "Then mend it", I shouted across to them. "Non, total casse," was their answer, as interpreted by Wang. It was now 5.45 pm and dusk was gathering; to proceed with the whole caravan was out of the question, and the inn was three quarters of an hour's journey further on. I bad to let the two mafus go off with the horses. We left two loads in a little hut near the ferry, took the other three on our shoulders and marched on. Unaccustomed to such work, I nearly flattened my Adam's apple against the lid of the box. One of idle loads was dropped a quite unnecessary mishap but although it was now pitch dark we found it again. I went in front, leading the horse and feeling my way until I reached a corner of the rock face where the path was too narrow to pass. There was nothing for it but to set up my campbed on a level patch, and send a man to the inn to fetch pine-wood torches and rice, as my matches were in the boxes and I dared not open them in the rain. Several men came back carrying lighted brands, but without any food, simply because someone had stupidly forgotten it. At last the rain stopped for a moment and I crawled into my waterproof sleeping bag, though (the downpour continued all night and my blankets were soaked by rain which leaked in through the neck opening. My men stretched something over the pole of my mosquito net and crept under it. As some stretches of the track were too narrow for packhorses, several porters came early next morning to carry my big crates. We divided the smaller items among our three pack animals and marched on. The porters brought me five duck's eggs which I ate ravenously, having had no food since noon the previous day.
At a fork in the path just beyond our camp site one of the loads slipped off the saddle and the horse lost its balance, toppled backwards and somersaulted down the stony hillside towards the river. However, it soon got on its legs again and stood there quietly, quite uninjured. The sack containing paper for pressing plants rolled into the Yalong. At first it floated near the bank, circling slowly round and round. Swift as lightning I unbuckled my camera and leapt down to fish it out with my iceaxe, and in [p.49:] so doing I lacerated an Aleppo boil [note #45: Oriental sore, the lesion of cutaneous leishmaniasis, caused by Leishmania tropica. ] on my right forearm; it had appeared as a belated souvenir of my stay in Nfcsopotamia, though it usually gave me no Irouble. The sack drifted out into the current and was carried downstream; the soldier ran back along the path and rescued it at the ferry. In the meantime the horse had grown restless and when the men tried to catch it it broke away, fell over again and gashed its neck. Although the wound was trivial and I applied an aseptic dressing at once, in the prevailing Chinese filth it tuned septic and the horse remained unfit for work for many days. At last we all arrived at the inn at Pojue md dried our kit in front of the fire. The two mafus turned up that afternoon, bringing the other horss. I turned my attention to the vegetation. Various shade-loving plants had found shelter under the tall grass Andropogon assimilis, notably the pink Justicia procumbens and the blue Dicliptera cycbstegia, both belonging to the Acanthaceae, Petnxosmea nervosa, a plant with deep blue flowers and thick round leaves related to the "African violets", and the dainty Selaginella braunii.
From Pojue to Datiaogu the Yalong flowed from west to east, and higher up it curved in a semicircle round a lalus fan at the mouth of a fairly large, thinly populated lateral valley which ran down from the north east In the course of further erosion both the tributay stream and the main river had cut down through tie talus fan into the underlying sandstone to such a great depth that several landslips had occurred on the hillside opposite the lateral valley.
Our raute led close to the rockface exposed by such a landslip up on to a ridge covered with pine forest and then down into a side valley of the Yalong. During the descent we had to repair a suspension bridge over a deeply eroded channel and hack away the sandstone. The leading horse broke through die bridge and fell backwards several metres on to some rotten timbers. It was unhurt, but to get it up the steep hillside was no easy task. The crates which it was carrying had remained on the bridge. We had to take off the loads and even the saddles before we could lead the other horses across, holding on to theii tails on the uphill side. Stretched over the stream between two posts was a rope by which travellers could pull themselves across in times of flood; this was the only occasion on which I saw such a ropebridge in purely Chinese territory. Next day the path continued north-westwards along the steep side of the lateral valley. The slopes were clothed by the same luxuriant subtropical vegetation, among it Saurauia napaulensis, a small well-shaped tree with large, beautifully veined dark green leaves and loose racemes of fleshy spherical fragrant rose pink flowers. At a narrow comer where the path went round a tree my best horse, carrying the heaviest boxes, lost its balance and crashed down the rocks into the stream. It was stone dead, though without any external injury, and its death cost me some 80 Austrian crowns at the prewar rate. The crates lodged undamaged in the trees and were soon rescued. What were we to do? To turn back meant facing the same hazards once again and abandoning our goal, but if we went forward we might hope for something better. So the two mafus loaded the boxes on to their backs, one of them, a broad sturdy fellow, without difficulty, the other with much panting and muttering, arid we marched on. Soon afterwards another horse fell down a little waterfall in a rocky gully an almost vertical drop of about 10 metres. However, it was unhurt and immediately stood up and started grazing. The pack-frame was shattered, but the load caught on the rocks and was saved. Finally the horse carrying my tin boxes rolled down the slope into a rice-ficiJ, and as they had already sustained so many dents the watery mud leaked into them, seriously damaging their contents. At the village of Shiwanhe I engaged two porters for the boxes from the horse which had been killed and another for Pen, who was suffering from rheumatism in consequence of camping without shelter in the rain.
We proceeded up the gently ascending valley, which soon became narrow and rocky. The scene was wild and romantic. The stream raged between splendid cliffs of limestone, on which, arising from cushions of tufa-forming moss (Hymenostylium cunitvstre), there were curious stalactitic formations, resembling irregular bracket fungi though some of them had little sub-stalactites hanging from them. Here, growing in subtropical grassland at an altitude of 1450m, was the largest of all species of edelweiss, Leontopodium artemisiifolium, a metre tall, with loose star-shaped flowers up to 12cm in diameter. Below Zaluping the valley forked. Growing there on the rockface were two handsome Gesnerads, the juicy Rhynchoglossum obliquum and the white-flowered Boea paniculate, a new species. Before long the path quitted the steeper main eastern fork and climbed to the west to Niuchang, a tiny nest where we found shelter for the night From there the path climbed steeply along the stream through Lithocarpus woodland with a richly assorted understorey of shrubs, reaching an altitude of 3640m. Blooming on the sandstone slopes above were masses of the mat-forming Leontopodium subulatum together with the deep blue Cyananthus delavayi, also growing in mats. The stems of Astragalus prattii spread out in all directions from its thick rootstock, and lying prostrate everywhere was the remarkable Pedicularis cymbalaria. At first glance its flowers appear to be golden, but on closer inspection they are seen to have a pale pink lower lip flecked with purple and a light brown hood marked with purplish brown veins. There was Saxifraga strigosa, a slender plant with numerous bulbils in its leaf axils, and other species with conspicuous flowers, such as Sedum beauverdii, with foliage resembling that of a haircap moss. The flowers of Leontopodium calocephalum var. uliginosum, growing in wet spots on the other side of the mountain, made patches of white visible from some distance. On that day (30th September), as on the previous few days, rain fell almost incessantly during the march to Yanyuan; only in the low lying part of the basin was the weather clear.
My next objectives were a limestone mountain to the north, about 4300m high, which had been [p.50:] pointed out as "Huangliangzi" [note #46: Heng-liang-tzu Shan (13,000ft) on Rock's map.] in the spring, and one of the many sandstone peaks in the vicinity. Owing to the rain none of them was visible, and no one understood the sketch which I drew from memory, but before long I found a soldier who knew Mount Huangliangzi. After a rest day I set off for the ascent, estimated to need three days, starting out along the track by which we had returned from Guabi and making for the yamen of the Yi prince at Gubaishu, who was moreover the tusi(government official) of the territory I planned to visit. He presented me with two hens and a lump of excellent butter; in exchange I gave him one of my 3.50 crown watches. Just as I was ready to set off again, he produced a hotly spiced meal for my men and me. Though I had a Yi as an extra guide, this delay meant that we got only as far as Shanmenkou, where we found accommodation for the night in a small Chinese farmhouse. I seemed to remember that somewhere hereabouts we had to turn off into the mountains, but visibility was poor because of the persistent rain and in the featureless karst landscape there were no landmarks that I recognized. The route along which the guide led me was already at variance with the plan, but as he assured me that the Huangliangzi was very high and that from it one could see as far as the Dechang district, I assumed that it must be part of the main crest Since I had no positive alternative plan to offer, I agreed to his proposals. The steppe which grew on the deposits in the basin resembled that found at lower levels, though it was much less rich in flowers (the only plentiful plants in bloom were Swertia species), and the reddish Andropogon delavayi was dominant, other steppe grasses being almost entirely absent As we went up the gentle slope towards die mountain the steppe gradually changed into a heath meadow community, rich in blossoms of many hues, which brought back vivid memories of the karst heath which flourishes under closely similar conditions in Illyria.
Towards midday I reached the descent on the far side of the mountain and followed the left bank of the Malu Tang, dipping far down into the side valleys and climbing out of them, past a Xifan village and several Yi villages. Before reaching Baitiaohe, where we were to spend the night we came out again on to the river, which here emerged from a deep U-shaped valley between huge limestone cones and broke through a narrow ravine into the surrounding lowlands. The U-shaped valley, which was not very long, was formed by the junction of two gorges, separated at first by an extremely narrow crest which had to be climbed. From its inner end, at the foot of the mountainside, the path led down again into the western gorge below the east side of Mount Houlong Shan [note #47:Hou-lung-shan (14,500tt=4421m) on Rock's map, (15,300ft=4665m) on Davies' map.], which plunged down very steeply. This was the mountain which I had ascended in the spring. The blue gentian relative Crawfurdia fasciculate, scrambling high up over bamboos and shrubs, was common here, and tall Saussurea species were flowering at the edge; of the dense woodland thickets.
That evening, climbing once again out of the valley, I reached the bamboo huts of the tiny Yi village of Huangliangzi, situated at 3325m on the mountain of the same name and just within the district of Guabi. The summit which I reached on 5th October in heavy rain and sleet consisted of clay-slate, together with limestone in the last 200m, and touched 4075m. The vegetation was already autumnal; there was much edelweiss (Leontopodiium calocephaluni) together with Anaphalis and numerous large flowered gentians, the fine blue bjells of Allium beesianum, Delphinium fomestii and others. Part of my task was thus accomplishted, namely to examine the flora of the acid rocks. Despite the rain a few Autochromes and other photographs were successful. Back in the hospitable Yi hut I dried myself in front of the fire, over wlhich potatoes were simmering in a large iron pot for my evening meal as well as theirs. It was a small but cosy lodging.
"So this is what the wicked Yi are like, whien I actually come and see them, even though the Chinese officials are always warning me albout them," I said with a laugh, and Wang interpreted.
My mafu was so careless that he would certaiinly have set fire to their hut if it had not been so 'wet; when he went out to attend to the horses he torok a bundle of bamboo culms which he had lit at the fire and which flared up as he stood at the door. From this spot I could easily have climbed Houlong Shan again, but in the unrelenting rain the ascent wrould have been no pleasure, and furthermore I had a liarge collection of plants which could not be allowed to remain any longer without changing their paper, more especially as the trip had already taken tihree days longer than I had planned. I therefore made: my way back along the same valley, declining 'with thanks an invitation to visit Guabi which the prince sent by two messengers to Mabahe when he hieard that I was there. I crossed to the right bank off the river, followed the route over the crest which we: had taken in May, and then took the better path the route which Schneider had used in the spring; arriving after dark at the Xifan village of Huapiolu. From Siere, by crossing the Malu Tang at a ford,, the journey back to Yanyuan can be completed in one long day's march. The people said the water wass too deep, but having heard such stories before I igncored them and went down to the ford. Once there, however, I realised they were right The people down there gestured to indicate that I would have to swim and explained that the water had been breast-high even the day before. The sight of the broad stream left me in no doubt I therefore had to go back some distance southwards as far as the bridge at Meiyu, the people of which I recalled as being rather unpleasant. That morning, however, the imafu from Lijiang, claiming to be ill, had once a, gain taken fully a hour to pack the two loads, and it was therefore so dark when we arrived that hardly anyone noticed me and I found quite agreeable accommodation. I finally got back to Yanyuan iifter six and a half days, happy to be in good health and free from even the most trivial or transient ailmients despite continuous travel in the rain and all the discomforts it entails, despite splashing through [p.51:] counless streams in boots that were falling to pieces, and despite riding for days along tracks that were bottomless morasses, a sport which, in October at an altitude of 2500m, is certainly no pleasure.
Dahutu, the limestone mountain which I had originally chosen as my goal, now unveiled herself partially from time to time, but she had donned a mantle of snow and the season was in any case too far advanced to permit the desired comparison with the flora of the western side. Furthermore, the reports of the war now circulating in Yanyuan, having been transmitted via the mission in Xichang, were, if not exactly false, so depressing in their tenor that they killed in me that spark of enthusiasm which is necessary for vigorous exertion in such weather. I therefore decided to go back to Hexi along the route by which we had come and then to return directly to Kunming. Pen was still unwell and I had to send him back to Dali in the carrying chair.
I took some pleasure in sending home the allegedly sick mafu; he invested all his cash in clothes and headgear, made himself ridiculous by appearing for several hours daily dressed in a khaki suit cut in European style but so hopelessly ill-tailored that it hung loose from every limb, and suddenly declared that he actually knew nothing about horses, having formerly been nothing more than a simple soldier.
As for the soldier who had been sent as my escort from Huili, I had at his wish taken him up Mount Huangliangzi in Pen's place, and he now wanted to remain with me, as no one in Huili wanted him any longer. These "government representatives" were evidently nothing more than casual labourers.
Through the good offices of the town clerk (the xianzhang) I had engaged a new mafu with a horse to replace the sick mafu and the animal which had been killed, but when we reached Hexi he decided not to come with me to Kunming; instead, he sold me the horse without the bridle, the sale of which would bring bad luck. I filled his place by using the "soldier" from Huili as my mafu, so all ended well.
The Yi tusi visited Yanyuan occasionally, and eyed me shyly from the back of the courtyard. However, when I invited him to tea and cake, he asked me for medicine for one of his people, and when I hinted that his butter had been very much to my liking I found myself the richer by two lumps of it, and indeed, my attention alerted by his original gift, I had purchased from the Xifan people a large lump of butter, a delicacy which the Chinese disdain.
After resisting with some trouble the importunate pleadings of the xianzhang, who wanted me to sell him my Browning and send it from Kunming by Wang, I left Yanyuan on 12th October. I retraced the route which I had taken in May, and collected some interesting late-flowering plants growing in this stretch of the Yalong valley which, bordered by higher mountains, is very much drier. I reached Hexi in four days and had a friendly reception from Pere Labrunie, who had meanwhile been stationed there. I accepted with alacrity an invitation from the bishop to visit him in Xichang. I now realised that old Father Burnichon was a dyed-in-the-wool French fanatic. Bishop de Guebriant was too shrewd to reveal much of what was passing through his mind; he expressed regret for Austria's "continual defeats, even at the hands of the Montenegrins; a powder magazine must have exploded there". He said nothing about Prussia, but his thoughts were all too evident I took the opportunity of calling upon the missionary Mr Wellwood and his German-American wife, who was extremely downcast by the news she had just received of the battle of the Marne. After returning to Hexi the next evening, I took the track leading along the right bank of the river to Dechang. In the gorgeous autumn weather which had now set in it afforded magnificent vistas of the talus fans and river terraces along the Jiangchang valley and the superb range of sandstone pinnacles around 4500m in altitude on the opposite side (east). Visibility was far better than in the spring and my photographs were much more successful, especially as I had now corrected a fault in the camera which I had previously overlooked. This time I found the inhabitants much more friendly than on my first visit, but I had not entirely forgotten the need to rant and rave [note #48: He said nothing about this on his earlier visit to Dechang (Chapter 3).], though such conduct was totally foreign to my mature. In contrast to their offhand attitude towards the modest and unassuming traveller, these people even the most repellent of them react quite otherwise to the man who arrives with a large retinue, his coming proclaimed in advance by couriers sent to all corners of the land, and who makes the whole village resound with fearsome cursing and scolding in military style. The blue dye for clothing fabric was now being prepared throughout the country. Around Huili it was extracted from Perilla avium, and at Dali I subsequently saw Strobilanthes cusia planted for the same purpose beneath the shade of bamboo canopies. The leaves were soaked in water for five or six days in large pans waterproofed with lime (at Dali in wooden tubs) and then strained though cloth. The vats used for dyeing the fabric stood open in the streets and were among the chief sources of evil stenches.
I continued my journey in the customary daily stages, stopped at Huili to pick up the crate which had been stored there, loaded it on my servant's horse, which he had in fact never used, and proceeded along the direct route to Kunming, halting repeatedly to take more photographs of the scenery and to collect plants, some because I had not seen them before, some because my existing specimens showed them in earlier phases of development, and others because they seemed to display polymorphism or other features of interest From now on I lengthened each day's march, for at the end of October the frosts begin on the Yunnan highlands and my favourite sleeping place under the open roof outside the bedrooms became uncomfortably chilly, and at this season a prolonged search for flowers was not worth the trouble and expense. The direct route passed to the west of Sayingpan, cutting off the bend in the river by crossing the col at Gandeng in a sandstone ridge, then traversed the valley at Erdaohe and rejoined our outward route on the saddle above Luoheitang. In the inn at Luoheitang an old man was dying, and the carpenter making his coffin was busy all night hammering and sawing outside the door of his room with the maximum of [p.52:] noise. This time I did not take the detour via Suge, but went straight on from Santang to the Qiaotianshang. Ten days after leaving Huili I arrived in Kunming, where Herr Stiebritz and his family most hospitably offered me board and lodging.