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  Field Notes From
Chang Tang

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From Author

Rick Ridgeway

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photograph by Galen Rowell


Chang Tang

Field Notes From Author
Rick Ridgeway
Best Worst Quirkiest
    One of the biggest benefits of going on these kinds of tough trips is the rediscovery of a simple truth: Tenacity is easier when you have no choice. I return home having reaffirmed that. After pushing myself through this remote region of Tibet or climbing K-2, any challenges I face at sea level no longer seem insurmountable.

    By the end of the first week of walking, we still had not found the chiru migration routes. Being on foot, we couldn't wander 20 miles (30 kilometers) in any direction in hopes of intersecting them. I was beginning to despair that we'd walk the remaining 200 miles (320 kilometers) looking for animals we'd never find. It was very hard to keep up the level of mental discipline necessary to continue the trip. But the counterpoint to that low happened at the end of the sixth day when we finally discovered a herd ambling across a beautiful valley traced with well-worn migration trails.

    We had to walk nearly 300 miles (480 kilometers) in areas so remote that there were no villages, no roads, no people at all, so there was no way to re-supply. We solved the problem by pulling individual rickshas loaded down with as much as 275 pounds (125 kilograms). That was the limit of what we could handle, so we could take only so much food.
    We designed three alternating menus for our "big meal": a three-bean flour mix that we rehydrated, a basic rice dish, and rehydrated falafel. After the first few days, what should have been normal guy-talk at dinner began to segue into conversations about food. We brought along a big wheel of parmesan and, at the end of dinner, we'd very carefully divide up the day's portion. Then, for dessert, we'd take the rind from that, divide it up, skewer it with a knife, and roast it over the portable stove.
    When I returned home, my wife prepared an Italian dinner that included a dish made with parmesan slices. When she tossed the rind away, I flew toward the trash can screaming, "No! You can't throw that away!"

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