In Li-chiang we learned that there was good shooting only twelve miles north of the city on the Snow Mountain range, the highest peak of which rises 18,000 feet above the sea. We left a part of our outfit at Mr. Kok’s house and engaged a caravan of seventeen mules to take us to the hunting grounds. Mr. Kok assisted us in numberless ways while we were in the vicinity of Li-chiang and in other parts of the country. He took charge of all our mail, sending it to us by runners, loaned us money when it was difficult to get cash from Ta-li Fu and helped us to engage servants and caravans.
It had rained almost continually for five days and a dense gray curtain of fog hung far down in the valley, but on the morning of October 11 we awoke to find ourselves in another world. We were in a vast amphitheater of encircling mountains, white almost to their bases, rising ridge on ridge, like the foamy billows of a mighty ocean. At the north, silhouetted against the vivid blue of a cloudless sky, towered the great Snow Mountain, its jagged peaks crowned with gold where the morning sun had kissed their summits. We rode toward it across a level rock-strewn plain and watched the fleecy clouds form, and float upward to weave in and out or lose themselves in the vast snow craters beside the glacier. It was an inspiration, that beautiful mountain, lying so white and still in its cradle of dark green trees. Each hour it seemed more wonderful, more dominating in its grandeur, and we were glad to be of the chosen few to look upon its sacred beauty.
In the early afternoon we camped in a tiny temple which nestled into a grove of spruce trees on the outskirts of a straggling village. To the north the Snow Mountain rose almost above us, and on the east and south a grassy rock-strewn plain rolled away in gentle undulations to a range of hills which jutted into the valley like a great recumbent dragon.
A short time after our camp was established we had a visit from an Austrian botanist, Baron Haendel-Mazzetti, who had been in the village for two weeks. He had come to Yuen-nan for the Vienna Museum before the war, expecting to remain a year, but already had been there three. Surrounded as he was by Tibet, Burma, and Tonking, his only possible exit was by way of the four-month overland journey to Shanghai. He had little money and for two years had been living on Chinese food. He dined with us in the evening, and his enjoyment of our coffee, bread, kippered herring, and other canned goods was almost pathetic.
A week after our arrival Baron Haendel-Mazzetti left for Yuen-nan Fu and eventually reached Shanghai which, however, became a closed port to him upon China’s entry into the European war. It is to be hoped that his collections, which must be of great scientific value and importance, have arrived at a place of safety long ere this book issues from the press.