Mountains and Their Precious Rivers
Returning to northwestern Yunnan’s snow-clad mountains and their precious waterways. We’ll wander up the Salween River (pronounced Gyalmo Gyul Chu and written རྒྱལ་མོ་རྔུལ་ཆུ། in Tibetan) to the eastern extension of the Himalayas and a slow route south along portions of both the Mekong (pronounced Dza Chu in Tibetan and written རྫ་ཆུ) and Yangtze (Ma Chu at the source and written རྨ་ཆུ) Rivers.
All of these waterways find their way off of the Tibetan Plateau and collectively they chart almost 20,000 km’s striating and convening as they journey to distant seas. Long coveted by the people within the mountains as living beings, the waterways are fast becoming the most coveted items to many beyond the ‘hills’.
Tortured and utterly precious, the rivers are the arteries of the mountains, fed by glaciers and deep springs. Journeys that begin as begin as numbingly cold and clean descend to become barely recognizable. For centuries the rivers acted as not simply sources but as guides for the traders, pilgrims, and wildlife of the mountains.
Winter’s snows are still atop the mountains that hang and feed the rivers – a perfect time to be there.
As the nomadic Yi often say of the rivers, “As long as the water makes a sound, all is well”.