Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/180

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158

THE POUHAIN-GOL.

Mongols told us, rises in the Nan-shan mountains and flows 260 miles before discharging its waters. In its lower course, i.e. where the Tibetan road crosses it, its width is about 100 feet, and it is fordable almost everywhere; the depth not exceeding two feet. The Pouhain-gol is thus a river of very moderate calibre, and the description given by the Abbé Huc of the terrible passage of the Tibetan caravan which he accompanied to Lhassa, across twelve of its channels, appeared to us, as we read it on the very spot, marvellously overdrawn. The worthy father remarks that his companions considered it very fortunate that only one man broke a leg, and two yaks perished. Now, the river has here only one channel, which is flooded, only in the rainy season, and might suffice to drown a hare possibly, but certainly never so powerful a swimmer as the yak. In the following March we lived a whole month on the Lower Pouhain-gol, and forded it dozens of times on every shooting excursion, often calling to mind as we did so Huc's description.[1] The valley of this river is from eight to ten miles wide; on the opposite side rises a lofty range which, as the natives told us, extends along the southern shore of Koko-nor,[2] and continues for about 330 miles to the west. I shall call it the Southern Koko-nor range, to distinguish it

  1. Compare Huc's account (vol. ii. p. 199). The river was covered with ice, not strong enough, however to bear the weight of the caravan animals, a circumstance which, combined with the darkness of night, must have occasioned difficulties in the passage, and partly caused the accidents which befell his party. Huc's passage was apparently made in the first week of November. — M.
  2. It is curious that Huc docs not mention this great range. — M.