Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/88

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halt was very agreeable, enabling us to make excursions into the mountains, and to study their flora and fauna. The profusion of both one and the other made me decide on returning to this spot, and devoting the whole summer to the special study of the mountains round Chertinton.

We were told positively that our baggage animals could not pass the range on the right (southern) bank of the Tatung;[1] accordingly we left camels and horses, and hired Chinese to carry the baggage on mules and asses to Chobsen.

On July 1, we ascended one of the tributaries of the Tatung, the Rangta-gol, by a narrow path leading through a defile in which we saw the black tents and wooden huts of the Tangutans. The hills are well wooded up to their higher zones, which are covered with underwood. Enormous rocks rise on all sides and shut in the lateral defiles. The ascent was very steep, almost precipitous, and the beasts could hardly keep their footing. The view from the summit, however, is splendid, overlooking a wide uneven plain, which presented a remarkable appearance as we saw it, swathed in fleecy clouds with a bright sun and clear sky overhead.

The descent on the opposite side is short but abrupt,[2] leading to an extensive hilly region, on the outskirts of which is the town of Si-ning, at the foot of lofty snow-clad mountains. This is a well-

  1. This information afterwards proved incorrect; pack-camels may cross the mountains, although with considerable difficulty.
  2. The ascent from the Tatung by the valley of the Rangta is twenty-three miles long, the descent on the south only six miles.