Aug. 09, 2022

Searching for China's Water (21) Odd Mountain Rocks on both Sides of the Yangtze River

Words and Pictures by Yangchuan Wang

July 9, 2009, we are close to glaciers more and more. Yong Yang thought this trip we are likely to refresh the length of Tuotuo River, the source of the Yangtze River.

An eagle-like rock
Like a piece of cloth
Wind Linkasite
Clastic debris flow

Today, the canyon we walked in was unknown what a tributary of the Yangtze River it belonged to, or it was said that it had not been officially named. A geologist Yong Yang called colorful rocks as wind Linkasite. These cliffs seemed very unique. In fact, they were very serious freeze-thaw weathering.

From our GPS, there was about 20 km from us to Jianggudiru Glaciers, the source of the Yangtze River. Jianggudiru Glaciers were designated as being the source of the Yangtze River in 1976.

We enjoyed the odd mountain rocks on both sides of valleys. Some looked like eagles, and some looked like human faces. We once again felt that the one who created the word "Seven Wonders" was wisdom.
However, this canyon was beautiful, but it was not easy to walk through.
Canyon and Water 
Vehicles in the canyon 
In water 
Walk along the water 

What I see in the car mirror

Yong Yang said, Geladandong snow-capped mountains had two peaks in this side, and the west was Gaqiadiru Snow Hills, the east was Geladandong Snow Hills, and the middle was a wide trough. We should try to move closer to Geladandong. From the maps and GPS, crossing the watershed of the ridge was not too high above sea level. If we could not meet herders, and cars were unable to advance, we had to walk.

How do walk? Each person would bring a camera and a sleeping bag. If possible, we would bring a mat, but not take a tent. Then we would spend the night inside the snow-capped mountains. It was better if we could run into herders. We may be riding a yak, but also may have tents to live. Otherwise, we would walk below the ridge. Here the height was more than 5000 meters above sea level. This was indeed a historic crossing.
A under snow-capped mountains 
A Shepherd
Snow Canyon
Our cars also walk through this new valley

Since it was a historic crossing, all of course, everything in front of us were fresh. We could not help but want to "fill" all into the lens.    
Yong Yang said that there were three glaciers of the new source of the Yangtze River which we were going to see, including a north glacier. The length of the north glacier’s ice tongue was a little longer than that of the Jianggudiru Glaciers. Ice tongue side was serac clusters, and was comparatively developed. The slope of the north glacier was not as steep as that of the Jianggudiru Glaciers.

The Central Glacier and southern glacier were the middle and south of the glaciers of the new source. Their ice tongues were short, and serac clusters were not developed. Ice tongue side was smooth shape, and ice surface was smooth.
A hillside on the south side of the southern glacier seeped out of an initial flow, and we must fight to measure its geographical data. If detected. If we got date, it was estimated to extend the original point of the length of the Yangtze River nearly 20 km.
Yaks are still on the mountain 

Mountains of the river’s source

When we drove in such a wonderful mountains and canyons, I asked Yong Yang, what do you now feel? From the view point of the ecology, and global climate change, how do you feel what we see?

Yong Yang said, the natural landscape of the water system within Geladangdong was an ice-type mud debris flow. Do not write debris, it was a debris flow. Debris flow was widely developed, and surface buoyant flow was also developed. Ground vegetation was sparse, and community of plant was almost gone, that is, there were not the main communities of plants.Thus, it was extremely fragile ecosystem.

The intensity of water erosion was dramatic, so river valley landscape had changed dramatically. Where the continental water system finally gone? It went into lakes.

In addition, these lakes within the water system had all been turned into lagoons, and no freshwater lakes, and even no salt lakes. This not only showed the amount of evaporation was bigger than that of precipitation, and the natural ecological landscape of the continental water system was extremely fragile. The disastrous climate was more, melting ice and snow was more in summer, and flows may be stop during the winter months.
Stones of the river’s source 
off slope in the river’s source

The boundary of continental and outflowing water system in Geladandong may be changed under the effect of the current landscape and snow debris, because we saw the dividing line was very weak in many places, and the thickness of surface ice and snow debris flow was still a great.

What problem did the variation in this debris show? It showed that continental water system will be expanded. From surface and topography, the landscape activity of the continental water system was much more active. If the flow of continental river system was active, it would violate the outflowing water system. It also the continental water may be expended, while outflowing water system may be reduced.
Half of The ice and snow of Geladandong Glaciers now supplied to the inner water system.
The boundary of continental and outflowing water system
The dividing line of water system
Our cars could not be driven any more
Ready to walk

Yong Yang said, this was the lake, but we would reach the outflowing water system of the Yangtze River after flipping over this watershed. If we did not flip over this watershed, we only reached the continental water system.

Plants in the river’s source
Flowers in the river’s source
Yong Yang said, now the entire Qinghai-Tibet Plateau climate was warming, especially in summer. What did we feel in these two years? During the day a large number of these glaciers melt, and water was rolling. It forked down along the bottom of glaciers and the depth was great. This ice and snow melting phenomenon first would be undercutting the foundation material of the bottom of glaciers, or would be undercutting the ice-bed. In serious times, it would lead to the disintegration of glaciers, and to speed up its melting.

 In addition, according to our walk along the sides of glaciers, this washing ability of glaciers melt water was very strong. One was that it directly erode and undercut the bottom of glaciers and the other was it would lead to some minor landslides of rocks and mountains on both sides of glaciers, or some debris. This process was the most intense from noon to 3:00pm. Usually in the morning and night the melting process slowed down. We picked up water this morning in the front of glaciers, there was not too much water.
See yaks
Concentric circles
A river was winding to its source

 Generally speaking, those features in the glacier region were very fragile. One was that under this background of climate warming, it may be gradually changing t certain conditions of the glacier stability. Another one was that in extreme weather conditions, it may speed up the load conditions change of glaciers, that is, that such a change may occur at any time.

Although in today’s evening, we saw yak, but we had gone through the herders’ tent, so we still built our own tents. For me, good news was that tomorrow I could have a yak to ride, and other two yaks to help us pack luggage. Today, it was a too heavy "burden" for whether young or experienced people to walk less than two hours with luggage at an altitude of 5,000 meters height.
Writing River Information
Here the Yangtze River will lead us to its source

When I wrote down these in the tent, I was looking forward to be able to photograph serac clusters tomorrow, and Yong Yang was excited to be able to "pull" the Yangtze River longer.
Tonight, I hope to be accompanied by hail and strong winds outside the tent.


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