Camping Practices

Yak stew simmering on portable stove

Cooking

Cooking

On day hikes and overnight trips, guides cook over a wood fire, sometimes inside a shepherd hut. A large kettle supplies an unending supply of boiled water. If not hung over the fire, the kettle is placed directly on the coals. Potatoes can be baked directly on the coals, too. Scrape off the black crust or peel away the skin and enjoy.


I have also seen portable backpacking stoves in use, of the canister or liquid fuel variety. These are the preferred alternative to wood fires, especially during the dry season with increased fire danger. Finding fuel canisters may be difficult. In Shangri-La (香格里拉) they can be found in the outdoor equipment shops. In Lijiang (丽江) outdoor shops frequently go out of business which makes finding fuel canisters a bit more of a challenge.


Sources of Fuel Canisters

Sources of Fuel Canisters

International Youth Hostel Lijiang (丽江国际青年旅舍)
885 Minzhu Road (民主路885号)
Lijiang
Phone 180-8808-5240

Kailas
Dawa Road (达娃路)
Shangri-La
Phone 135-7847-4603 (owner Li Xiao Qin, 李小琴)
(Dawa Road runs along the north edge of Old Town, the store is at the far eastern end)

Chuanyue Outdoor Gear Store (穿越户外用品店)
Dawa Road (达娃路)
Shangri-La
Phone 188-0693-0937
(west portion of Dawa Road, diagonally opposite gas station)


Hydration

Hydration

Guides drink hot water, tea, butter tea, or directly from streams as needed. Considering that yaks and goats range pretty much everywhere it is recommended that you treat all unboiled water.


I find the preparation of butter tea (酥油茶) fascinating, especially the final mixing step. Place cow butter (牛奶黄油) in boiled water. Add a paste called damazi (大麻籽), which comes from non-potent parts of the marijuana plant. Add a pinch of salt. Using a bamboo shoot with a bush-like end, mix well by twirling the branch between the hands. Serviceable bamboo shoots may lie hidden within shepherd huts, tucked away in a niche.

Unlike many Chinese people, I dislike drinking hot water, except in camp with a comforting cup of hot chocolate. On the trail and in the camp, access to cold water can be a problem. My solution: a thermos bottle. I store hot water and mix it with cold in another container. This way I have treated (boiled) water at all times while avoiding the destruction of my collapsible containers from scalding H2O.


Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace

Sadly, the ethic of leave no trace remains unknown in these parts. The local guides and inhabitants come from a different tradition. Change, when it will happen, will start slowly and from within their own community. Hikers should exercise standard LNT practices. This includes packing out all refuse with you, burying human waste and disguising the hole, using existing fire rings, and camping away from lakes and sensitive meadows. Responsible Chinese and foreign trekkers can contribute to positive change by setting an example.