For the last in this summer’s Shangri-la excursions, Yang Xiao trekked into the Tianbao range from the east and circled back to Zhongdian via Lake Abuji.

He found these lovely blue poppies in unusual abundance above the lake. This is my favourite flower.

This trail begins at around 3,600 meters and offers no great difficulties, passing through a number of beautiful pastures where Yi villagers herd yak.

There are also numerous ponds and wetlands: in the foreground here you can see the yellow Primula sikkimensis; in the distance are a number of tall Rheum alexandrae.

The yak are generally peaceful, but Yang Xiao saw two bulls fighting – a gory display which resulted in the loser’s death. The herders couldn’t stop them and had to burn the carcass – while there are wolves on the mountain, they said the numbers were too small and the carcass would rot and endanger the herd if left untouched.

Yang Xiao’s young Yi host Xiao Sha prepares the morning milk.

Shen Niuzhi shows off his collection of freshly collected zhuomuyasha roots, a traditional medicinal preparation that is supposed to even out your blood pressure.

Even two or three wolves are plenty to worry about in calving season. Privately owned weapons are illegal in China, but many of the herders make use of ancient rifles like this to help keep their animals safe.

Home-made bullets.

And more home-made pellets for the wolves.

Lake Abuji.

An alternative view of Lake Abuji.

Now back to the wildflowers, which were still growing in great profusion in mid-July. The names, where known, are in the file data – open the gallery or hover your mouse over the pictures.

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