Thursday, May 7, 2009

Songpan Horse Trek part 2 Ride over mountains to Erdaohai

The Songpan Wild Bunch! Left to right: Staci Latoison, Bob L, DJ Latoison (10 yr), Heidi W, Ingrid Morejohn Sr (75 yr), Tuva A (6 yr), Emy Booz (10 on May 12th!), Paddy Booz, Thilien B (8), Emma (Li Guirong), Philippe B, Emma's mother, Burton Booz (12), Arnaud D, David Li, Maya L (10), Isabelle D, Zoe D (9 on May 9th!), Charles D (11), Ethan G and Sam G (3 yr). Missing: Juline B (6), Benedicte B, Isaac G (8), Catherine P, Kattis and Nicklas A and Ingrid Booz Morejohn. We don't have any proper riding helmets for the children, so they are wearing their bicycle helmets.
Our horses arrive at 8.00, loaded up with our tents, sleeping gear and food. They aren't particularly big horses but not small ponies either. Saddles (wooden or leather) are underneath all the packing, making it both comfortable but also a bit of a high seat. The tack varies in quality from very simple leather straps and ropes to finely braided ones in Tibetan colors.
Emy Booz gets her stirrups adjusted by our "mafu", horseman Meng Jun. Meng Jun is the leader of the horsemen. He is Hui Muslim and has been riding horses by himself since he was 4 years old. Emy is riding one of his horses, Niu de hua, "Fast and slippery". I ride his other horse, Hei Ma, "Blackie". Blackie is the lead horse, very aggressive and strong and I have a fun three days holding him back and sometimes letting him go too, in a full gallop. We couldn't be happier! It's been Emy's dream for a long time to go on a really long horse trek.
We leave Songpan at 9.45 and quickly make our ascent of the mountain range just to the west of the Songpan Valley. Emma's Kitchen and the horse trekking office (Ma Dui) are only about 100 feet from the path that leads up the steep mountain. We all ride. But some of the mafu walk, others ride their horses. The sky is heavy with grey clouds and rain is an ever present threat. We pass wooden houses with flowering crabapple trees in their gardens and everyone's spirits are high. In the beginning the children's horses are led by the mafu. Some of the children ride the horses on their own, others like Emy here share the horse with the mafu.  Eventually when the mafu see which children are capable of handling the horses on their own the children are allowed to hold the reins themselves. In the picture here: Ethan G, followed by Emy and Meng Jun on Niu de Hua. 
Up, up, up we go!
The pass on the mountain ridge above Songpan, about 3800 m above sea level, slightly higher than Lhasa in Tibet. Below us is the city of Songpan and the Min River. In the distance are the high mountains that surround Xuebaoding (hidden in clouds), the mountain that towers over Huanglong. 
The rain that poured down on us in Songpan last night became snow up here on top of the mountains. We are a regular wagon train, with 21 foreigners from Chengdu riding and 11 mafu. 

Nicklas A in the foreground with the valley of Munigou in the background. We still have a few hours to go. After riding along the ridge of the mountain for an hour or so we begin our descent. Because of the rain and slippery, muddy paths we stay on the horses. The descent is quite arduous for the horses. We ride through brambles and thorny bushes. All photos ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn


  1. Det ser jättehärligt ut! Fantastisk natur!

  2. 几天没来看,你写了很多东西啊。
    jǐtiān méi láikàn, nǐ xiě le hěnduō dōnɡxi a!

    wǒ yào mànmàn kàn le.  Hē hē

    wǒ xǐhuan zhàopiàn li de shān, wǒ tūrán hěn xiǎnɡ jiā le......

  3. 在我家乡,这个季节我和朋友们都会去爬山采野草莓和桑葚吃......但是没有马,呵呵
    zài wǒ jiāxiānɡ  zhèɡè jìjié wǒ hé pénɡyǒumen dūhuì qù páshān cǎi yě cǎo méi hé sānɡshèn chī ...... Dànshì méiyǒu mǎ,  hē hē

  4. Taitai: thanks for comments! It was really a fantastic trip for all included. LF - talk to you later in class, I know that the mountains of Fujian are beautiful too!