Yang Xiao has been making the most of the last days of autumn, exploring some new routes close to the border between Yunnan and Sichuan. He  sent these pix from a six-day hike northwest of Zhongdian. YX reckons this is a relatively accessible route: although it reaches 4,000+ meters above sea level, the gradients are not too steep and the trails are in good condition, making it similar in difficulty to the Mt. Tianbao hike.

Yang Xiao set off from close to Langdu, hiking towards the northwest. He was aiming for a pass due west, from where he expected to regain the main road back into Zhongdian. The first day was at relatively low altitude, passing through some good pasture to the lake pictured below:

This is Wudi Hu, where Yang Xiao chilled out for a day.

From Wudi Hu, Yang Xiao headed up towards the pass.

For his third night on the trail, he camped by this stretch of water, known as Bengong. Conditions were already deteriorating.

The following morning, YX tried to continue upwards, but despite the sunshine he ran into ever-deepening snow. As the weather began to turn, he thought better of his original plan and shifted direction towards the north.

He spent his fourth night close to this point. One of the outstanding features of this trek, he said, was the long stretch of primeval forest on this day. You can see some of the deep, thick green in the background of the photo above, and a close-up below:

According to Baima Qupei, a Tibetan herder Yang Xiao met later, wolves inhabit this forest – this was eyewitness testimony, by the way, not rumour.

Pictured above are Baima Qupei and his wife, Larong Zhuoma.

The fifth day took Yang Xiao back into herding country and through some lovely pastures. He camped close to the spot from where he took the picture below, then hiked out the next day to the main road between Zhongdian and Xiangcheng: a place familiar to us from New Long March 6, when we hiked that way in summer 2007.