This bridge at Kiang-ti is one hundred and fifty feet by twelve, protected at one end by a couple of monkeys carved in stone, whilst the opposite end is guarded by what are supposed to be, I believe, a couple of lions—and not a bad representation of them either, seeing that the workmen had no original near at hand to go by.
From here the ascent over a second range of mountains is made by tortuous paths that wind along the sides of the hills high above the stream below, and at other times along the river-bed. The river is followed in a steep ascent, a sort of climbing terrace, from which the water leaps in delightful cascades and waterfalls. A four-hour climb brings one, after terrific labor, to the mouth of the picturesque pass of Ya-ko-t’ang at 7,500 feet. In the quiet of the mountains I took my midday meal; there was about the place an awe-inspiring stillness. It was grand but lonely, weird rather than peaceful, so that one was glad to descend again suddenly to the river, tracing it through long stretches of plain and barren valley, after which narrow paths lead up again to the small village of Yi-che-shin, considerably below Ya-ko-t’ang. It is the sudden descents and ascents which astonish one in traveling in this region, and whether climbing or dropping, one always reaches a plain or upland which would delude one into believing that he is almost at sea-level, were it not for the towering mountains that all around keep one hemmed in in a silent stillness, and the rarefied air. Yi-che-shin, for instance, standing at this altitude of considerably over 6,000 feet, is in the center of a tableland, on which are numerous villages, around which the fragrance of the broad bean in flower and the splendid fertility now and again met with makes it extremely pleasant to walk—it is almost a series of English cottage gardens. Here the weather was like July in England—or what one likes to imagine July should be in England—dumb, dreaming, hot, lazy, luxurious weather, in which one should do as he pleases, and be pleased with what he does. As I toiled along, my useless limb causing me each day more trouble, I felt I should like to lie down on the grass, with stones ’twixt head and shoulders for my pillow, and repose, as Nature was reposing, in sovereign strength. But I was getting weaker! I saw, as I passed, gardens of purple and gold and white splendor; the sky was at its bluest, the clouds were full, snowy, mountainous.
Then on again to varying scenes.
Inns were not frequent, and were poor and wretched. The country was all red sandstone, and devoid of all timber, till, descending into a lovely valley, the path crossed an obstructing ridge, and then led out into a beautiful park all green and sweet. The country was full of color. It put a good taste in one’s mouth, it impressed one as a heaven-sent means of keeping one cheerful in sad dilemma. The gardens, the fields, the skies, the mountains, the sunset, the light itself—all were full