The magnificent 7
Our Chinese support crew, are really our back bone. If you take into account the terrain we have to travel through. On foot some days are indescribable and nearly impossible to cross. I don’t know how Dragon (Lunga) and his crew manage to find the camp sites in the evening, let alone get the vehicles to it.
It was a lot better in the Gobi, basically flat with the odd mountain range. On a good day Dragon said some times they would get stuck maybe 6 times. Now it’s the Shaanxi and Shanxi provinces. (The one has only one a as the erosion is less) The famous rolling eroded hills. From the air it is a few thousand square km of mountains up to 2500m, which the great wall carves through. The mountains are derived from millions of years of dust storm deposits from Mongolia. Soft, muddy and eroded to the bone as nothing really binds them. On top of this 80% water in this area comes from flash floods, so you can imagine the roads. The final problem is that there are no maps which show any of the tracks in the mountains as they are changed so often by the hundreds of bulldozers dotted around the villages who keep cutting new roads, keeping the lines of transport open between the villages, as they either slide down the mountain or are washed away by the flash floods.
Leaving camp and looking down from the mountain , we have seen the crew with all 3 vehicles chained together laboring up a hill in a cloud of powder dust, as the one vehicle is not 4×4 the others have to basically hall it up some of the hills. Then there are other days when there has been a powder slide (sounds crazy, but the sand is so fine) down an embankment and they drive into it and sink away into the soft dust and there they sit. On other days they get stuck behind a bulldozer for hours as it cuts open a new section of road that has fallen away. On average in the mountains the crew can spend between 6-7 hours driving, covering only 100km to get to our next meeting point of 40 – 42 km away. For the past 2 week Braam and I have not managed to meet the crew for any lunch so it’s, been long hard days for all .We are only managing 4-5 km per hour at the moment as it impossible to run.