China 2015: July 5 Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Tea with Ya-Ping in a tea house in Lijiang.

We arrived in LIjiang, a popular destination in Yunnan province, on the fourth of July. We met our host and expert botanist for the area Dr. Wu and agreed to start of early the next morning for Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (or Yulongxue Shan). So, Ya-Ping and I went to explore the town. The old town in Lijiang "has retained a historic townscape of high quality and authenticity. Its architecture is noteworthy for the blending of elements from several cultures that have come together over many centuries". It was pretty touristy but this is to be expected as it is an UNESCO World Heritage site. Nevertheless it was a pleasant stone-clad area to stroll around and even better place to people watch. When we returned to our hotel I was surprised to learn that at dinner that night we would be joined by not only our driver and Dr. Wu, but six other researchers and their driver. It was a lively dinner, to say the least, and I enjoyed chatting with botanists from Europe who were in China studying Rhododendrons.  

Dr. Wu and me examining Micranthes pallida

I had mixed feelings about the next days journey to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. I was excited because I had multiple records confirming locations of Micranthes on the mountain, which was further supported by Dr. Wu who has been studying the flora of the area for years. But, everything I had read about the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain sounded too much like an amusement park: hundreds of people filing up the mountain on well maintained stairways, ski lifts for those tourists who didn't want to take the stairs, and it was overall very expensive to get in and around the park. You can imagine my elation when I learned the next morning that we were going up a different side of the mountain by the research station! There weren't any people or lines or fees! But we did see lots of cool flowers including two Micranthes, epic scenery, and my first encounter with a yak. Dr. Wu was an amazing guide and this ended up being one of the best hikes of the whole trip!

Perhaps my favorite Micranthes in China, Micranthes melanocentra