Flying on the String Bridges
By Li Bosheng
Prof. of Botany
Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing
Director of Beijing Botany Garden
Head of Botany Group, China Great Canyon Expeditions (1980's)
One of the 3 scientists who discovered the Great Canyon
|Prof. Li Bosheng
famous botanist, he went into Tibet for several dozens times and spent 15
months in the forests of the largest canyon in the world. He dedicated to
the Qing-Tibet Plateau botany, ecosystem, environment and tourism
protection etc research fields. His research group was awarded the
"National Park Medal" by WCPA (World Commission on Protected
Flying on the String Bridge
Until now, when I remember the scenes of doing scientific expedition in Yalung Tsangpu River Great canyon, the first one is always the string bridges and the storming river underneath it. I did so many times to across the river valley by climbing over the string bridges, it became the most unforgettable scene.
Flying on the string bridges was a risk of life, even many local Tibetans dare not to do it.
However since most bridges across
the Yalung Tsangpu river in the Great Canyon region were string bridges.
If I could not master this difficult skill, I'll missed many
interesting areas of my scientific investigation. I tried it. Eventually
even the local Menba people praised my skill and speed to across the
20 March 1983, I, Su and Tibetan
guides were leaving Diton Village. We planned to across the Yalung Tsangpu
River to investigate a virgin tropical forest on the opposite bank of the
river. The string bridge here was suspended over the river about 100 meter
high and 200 meters in length.
We all were cautioned. The Wild Hornet was dangerous. One of our member Shan touched a Hornet accidentally and he was bitted to faint, just a few days ago. If this happened during the string bridge crossing, its consequence will be serious. I went to investigate the situation first.
I saw a few Hornets flying nearby
the bridge. Not a lot. I thought, and turned back. On the slope, I saw Su
sat on the rock, holding his head down. When he lift his head, I was
astonished: his half face was swallow to almost unrecognizable, his eyes
became a narrow line and could not open. The reason was when he just
walked a few yards, a Hornet bitted his eye.
Across the string in raining night
I considered the dangers. Should we give up the plan? However the virgin forests that nobody ever explored was such a strong attraction to a scientist. I decided to take the risk.
It was a raining night, we held
torches arrived the bridge and check it carefully. Do you know how to use
the string bridge? There was a curved wood saddle attached on the string
bridge. You need to use your security string surrounded your body and the
cut lines on two ends of the saddle to hanging your body, then
use your hands and feet to move forward.
When my feet stood on the land again, I felt that I was returned to the Earth from another world.
Walk in Tropical Rain
In the morning, I was waked up by a terrible dream, on the moment of fallen down from the string bridge . . . Outside the tent, the rain stopped. The sound of the Yalung Tsangpu River reminded me that we were in the east side of the river. A pleasure of victory made me get up, put on still wet cloth and shoes, I went out running towards the tropical forest.
I used a long knife to open
the way, and caution of snakes. There were dozen species of snakes
including several very toxic snakes. I saw the tree branches moving, it
was monkeys playing.
Nevertheless, it was a great pleasure to observe the treasure in the virgin forests.
Dangerous Wild Pigs in the Forest
On the way towards a abandoned village in the forest, we took a break in a little space of the forest. The altitude here was 1,100m. Several Our Tibetan guides brought 3 hunting dogs with them. Tibet dog is the most aggressive dog in the world. For Menba hunters, the hunting dog is their most precious treasure, the price of a good hunting dog equals to several horses or yaks.
"But these 3 dogs were so small and thin," I thought. "One even has no tail."
We put fire on. Suddenly the 3
dogs shouted vigorously, they escaped chains and running into the forest.
Three Tibetan hunters jumped up
A whole night, the hunters were busy to make dried meat. Next morning, we brought part of the dried meat with us, reserve the remained meat on a high stage. Our best hunter Sangytogy walked in front of us, I was busy to collect the specimen and making record on the way and gradually I became the last one.
Suddenly I heard a terrible cry, a huge black animal push over the body of Sangytogy on the ground. We all running towards him. His head was blooding. We treated his wound with medicine, let him drunk water. Then he told us that it was a old female wild pig. It was chased by the dogs, he heard the dog shouting but could not see the wild pig. When he climbed onto the slope, just encountered the wild pig. Instantly Sangy used his hunting gun push the chest of the wild pig and fired. But the gun was in safe mode, The mad wild pig bitted his head and right hand, then towards the crowd. Everybody had to laid down on the ground. The wild pig then ran into the forest.
The Tibetan hunters said that the Wild pig was the most dangerous animal in the forest, next dangerous one should be the Bear, and the third one was tiger. If it was a male wild pig, Sangy could be killed. The male wild pig has two long teeth as sharp as knives.
New Discoveries in rainbow Waterfall Valley
After I treated all collected specimens, we went on for the last part of our expedition - Deyanla.
Deyanla is the 4th mountain entry of the East Himalayas, 4,300 m above sea level. Its glaciers originated White Horse Sili River flow to Xilang entering Yalung Tsangpu River at an altitude of <600 m. In a short length of about 100 km, the altitude difference of the White Horse Sili River reached 4,000 m. No wonder it runs like a wild horse.
We came into the White Horse Sili
Valley. I felt that we came into a different Fairland world. The west side
of the valley was the straight cliff, The water drop down from several
hundreds meters height to form numerous waterfalls. Some were narrow lines
which turned into silver fog & clouds suspended in the valley; some
were large silver river roaring down from the sky, once it touched
the bottom of the valley, water fog and clouds raised up. The sunset light
reflects on it forming beautiful rainbow, with the butterflies dancing in
it and the birds singing for it.
Next day, the heavy rain started. We walked along the valley. There was no any path, we had to find out the way to go forward. We walked 8 days in the valley, our food getting short. There will be another 2 days journey and one week work period in the target area.
The waterfalls gradually disappeared, we reached 1,800 m elevation, Many snow falls dropped down from the cliff and blocked the valley. When we through the snow falls and looked down: I was astonished by the scene, I saw a dense forest. There was no any green leaves on the trees, but full of red spouts of leaves. I could not believe my eyes, I ran into the forest, cut off a piece of skin from the tree, it was pink color. I was extremely excited! This was a new discovery, a new type of forest - Semi-Evergreen Broad Leaf Forest. These trees were Himalayas and Tibet endemic species. In Winter its leaves were not fallen; but changing its leaves in the Spring. This new discovery has had important scientific meaning.
Menba Wine Parties
We lived like the wild men in the last few days of our White Horse Sili Valley adventure. However we insisted and completed our expedition task.
On the way back, I sent a fast running guide back to the village first and bringing food come to meet us. On the 5th day, we met on the middle way. Many families of our guides came, they were laughing, chatting and crying together. I have seen such scenes many times, every expedition connecting many families. I* felt happy for them, but also thought of our families in the far away cities.
The coming crowd did not bring so much food, but a lot of bamboo tanks full of wine. Memba people like to drink. They said if only a few days without drink, their strength were lost. Before this expedition, the guides had drink with their families for a half day.
This evening, we had a drink party and almost finished all the wine. Next morning, all rush back to home in one day instead of the normal 4 days time. It was the miracle of the wine.
When we arrived the village, we were surrounded by the whole village people. Every family invited us to be their guest for dinner.
When I went to a family to have dinner with them, the next host was waiting outside the door. During Menba dinner party, the Hostess brought me a bowl of wine, I drank a bit, she add a bit more wine. After this bowl, other embers of the family paid their respects as well. After 5 - 6 dinner parties, I was slightly drunken.
Summer will coming soon. The snow closed pathway of the East Himalayas will be open again. We prepared to leave this mysterious and beautiful region. We said good bye to the brave Tibetan people and the biology treasure of the Great Canyon.
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Adventure Stories in The Great Canyon
Fight King Cobra
Adventure in Glaciers
Fog dance over the lake
Flying on String Bridges
Wander in the richest Fungi Kingdom
Photo Gallery of the Great Canyon
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