Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/290

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SUDDEN RAINFALL AND FLOOD.

daytime a desert-like stillness pervades everything. In conclusion, we may remark that both in flora and fauna this range has a greater affinity to the Kan-su than to the In-shan system.

In such arid mountains as these one would have supposed that we should not have incurred the slightest risk from water; but fate willed that we should experience every misfortune which can possibly overtake the traveller in these countries, for, without giving us the slightest warning, a deluge, such as we never remember to have seen, swept suddenly down upon us.

It was on the morning of the 13th July; the summits of the mountains were enveloped in mist, a sure indication of rain. Towards midday, however, it became perfectly clear and gave every promise of a fine day, when, three hours later, all of a sudden, clouds began to settle on the mountains, and the rain poured down in buckets. Our tent was soon soaked through, and we dug small trenches to drain off the water which made its way into the interior. This continued for an hour without showing any signs of abatement, although the sky did not look threatening. The rainfall was so great that it was more than could be absorbed by the soil or retained on the steep slopes of the mountains; the consequence was that streams formed in every cleft and gorge, even falling from the precipitous cliffs, and uniting in the principal ravine, where our tent happened to be pitched,[1] descended in an impetuous

  1. Our ravine was two miles long and only 350 feet wide; it was hemmed in on all sides by steep slopes and precipitous rocks.