Having skipped out on part one of two, of the round-Yala-MTB adventure, the second day of riding could be modified to cover a portion of the originally-planned route.
We’d decided to stay in Kangding that night, in lieu of camping, which meant we could do the drive to the “finish” of the day’s intended route, then climb it a ways, before descending back down to a hot spring for a solid, post-ride soak.
At the trailhead the group quickly broke up. The climb up the first bit was a mud-pit riddled bog, stirred up and extra goopy from the regular herds of yaks driven down it. Then came a steep set of switchbacks. After this initial climb, the trail broke into a gradual ascent, rolling climbs and descents dotted with sections of bog. More accurately, the trail was one long jaunt through a bog, occasionally broken up by sections of dry, hard-pack trail. It was slow going.
Being in sweep again, my aim was to make sure no good soul was left behind. This wasn’t a problem, as I found a handful of riders, whose aim was to soak in the environment and get plenty of pictures, rather than see how far up the trail they could get. Fine by me.
We only made it about 7km before calling it for lunch. We hung out in a nice open field, surrounded by scraggly oaks and thorny red brush. The mountainsides above were dotted with patches of snow and black, slow-moving dots: yaks winding their way from one patch of grass to the next.
A few riders that had stayed off the back gradually regrouped and we took a slow, cautious descent back down the trail to its head. From there we road the few kms down the paved bit of road to where the hot springs were. Happy to have avoided getting heavily muddy, we took in the giant 6000m peaks that broken the ridge lines, one after the other, as we came around each progressive bend. A hosing off and a hot soak made for a good end to an easy day on the trail.