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11 January 2015 » Roaming Western China: Daocheng Yading

The last photographic destination of the Sichuan trip that I undertook in October last year was Yading Nature Reserve in Daocheng County, a national park of incredible beauty: you get to see three distinctive snow mountain and alpine lakes in a valley that is only about ten kilometres long.

I photographed in the reserve previously and brought back a few images that truly speak to me. The timing of this trip, however, was not ideal: it was still about three weeks before autumn colours would peak. Looking at uninspiring colours, I thought I needed to do something more meaningful than repeating myself, photographically, under worse conditions. During the previous trip I did not make it to Milk Lake and Five Colour Lake, the two alpine lakes that sit just behind Mount Chenrezig: on the one hand, I did not have enough time as it was my first visit and there was a lot to see and photograph; on the other hand, getting to the lakes takes a long, strenuous hike, which I was not up to at the time. This time around things naturally fell into place for me to finally visit the lakes.

(A very big) Bird's view of Yading Nature Reserve

I knew it was going to be a very long and difficult hike, so in preparation I removed all non–crucial items from my camera backpack, essentially taking only Flexbody camera, one film back, three lenses (50mm, 80mm and 150mm), filters and a few rolls of film with me. By leaving 503CW camera, 250mm lens, second film back, panorama kit and other miscellany at the hotel I reduced the weight by some three kilogrammes; this may not sound like a lot, but I felt it would make or break the hike. Surprisingly, I did not miss anything that I left at the hotel.

MapMyWalk App on my iPhone shows that altogether I hiked 32 kilometres on that day. Starting at Chonggu temple (3900 metres above sea level), first ten kilometres took me to the foothills of Mount Jambeyang and were fairly easy; the ascend to Five Colour Lake (4700 metres above sea level) from there on was really tough, though. If first ten kilometres took just over two hours, the remaining six kilometres devoured three hours; the track was covered with mud and stones and quite difficult to hike. By the time I got to Five Colour Lake I was totally exhausted; it was well worth the effort, though: the vistas around the lakes were absolutely spectacular. And when I look at the Milk Lake, Daocheng Yading image now, I do no think of the exhaustion; instead, I invariably wonder where that track behind the lake leads, and what lays beyond that pass.

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Image: Mount Chana Dorje and Cloud, Daocheng Yading
 

Mount Chana Dorje and Cloud, Daocheng Yading

Hasselblad Flexbody camera, CFi 4/150 lens, Fujifilm Velvia 50 slide film

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Image: Five Colour Lake and Mount Chenrezig, Daocheng Yading
 

Five Colour Lake and Mount Chenrezig, Daocheng Yading

Hasselblad Flexbody camera, CFi 4/50 lens, Fujifilm Velvia 50 slide film

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Image: Milk Lake, Daocheng Yading
 

Milk Lake, Daocheng Yading

Hasselblad Flexbody camera, CFi 4/150 lens, Fujifilm Velvia 50 slide film

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Image: Five Colour Lake and Mount Chana Dorje, Daocheng Yading
 

Five Colour Lake and Mount Chana Dorje, Daocheng Yading

Hasselblad Flexbody camera, CFi 4/50 lens, Fujifilm Velvia 50 slide film

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Image: Forest, Daocheng Yading
 

Forest, Daocheng Yading

Hasselblad Flexbody camera, CFi 2.8/80 lens, Fujifilm Velvia 50 slide film

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