Over the once mighty yellow river

It was a long chocking run through the coal mining area from Yulin, to Fugu and on to the Yellow River. To me, the crossing of the river gives rise to the second stage of our journey. The mountains, which also happen to be in 2 stages. The first range, which are still quite muddy, but interleaved with bedrock and veins of granite, because of this it is a natural evolution of the wall, giving rise to sections and pieces of rock wall appearing. As well as this, towers are now being build of rock, but still linked by mud wall. The second range, the mountains leading to Beijing and the massive wall which is now only some 800km away.

We jogged down the hills towards the river, doing our now new “Modder Plodder”, (basically it feels like splashing through mud in the powder, sounds weird but that’s it) a feeling in our hearts that we were now reaching a milestone, crossing the Yellow River. Snaking below us lay the now lazy python like river rolling through the gorges, with no venom, but a rather lazy defeated look about it, pumped to near extinction by the farms in the Gobi area. We have been informed that the once mighty yellow river now does not even reach the sea for 150 days of the year.

Ahead lay our crossing point and the “Pont” we had to use (the sort of a barge). Looking at it I could not believe that our support crew had managed to get their vehicles across on it. This steel and wood structure looked like half a coconut with and engine strapped to it, and literary with wire and a few bolts, but being in rural China and now getting used to it our saying is, “Ag this is normal” So on we hopped, helping the locals loading their motorbikes, a Big 3 wheeler truck and whatever else we could find to over load it with, we then all turned and looked at the pilot to see what he was now going to pull out of the hat, was he going to get us to the other side?

The pilot was leaning over the standard diesel engine that drives everything in the Northwest of China, so I knew it would fire up. He cranked it a few times, and primed the diesel throttle which was wired to his boot, there was and explosion and he disappeared in a cloud of thick black smoke. The barge lurched forward; the engine revved wildly and out of the smoke appeared a smiling face shouting orders to the anchor man who was by now doing a “Roadrunner” number over the rocks trying to catch this turbo charged coconut trying to board it. We swung out into the river and headed for the other side, I could see that this was going to be fun, no sooner had the thought crossed my mind; we came to a grinding halt amongst the rocks on the opposite bank, the barge spewing us onto the land. As I stumbled off the barge I could see the pilot lying on the deck trying to untie his foot from the throttle cable of the screaming engine, now bellowing mountains of smoke like an ensnared dragon.

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