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0141 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 141 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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proved fruitless. Living vegetation was not reached again until the end of the march, when we approached the north fringe of a large marshy area with a lake called Bogach-köl. We were told that flood water from the Kashgar river had made its way into this regularly for the last four years. The luxuriant reed-beds around it afforded plentiful grazing.

The following day's march led between the foot of the steep and steadily rising hill range and the belt of vegetation to the south. Cones with living tamarisks were frequent on this ground and occasional rows of dead Toghraks or wild poplars marked the proximity of running water at some earlier period. After about eight miles we passed a small promontory jutting out from the range, and near its end came to an old river-bed, clearly marked and lined with dead Toghraks, winding away to the south-east. Living tamarisk-cones which had grown up in the bed to a height of six feet or so indicated that it had not been reached by water for a number of centuries. But Barat knew that another old bed farther south had some years before received water from an inundation of the Kâshgar river, and to the last lagoon left behind in this bed he brought us. Here we camped in order to give our animals the chance of a last drink and to fill our own water tanks. Though the old bed farther south had completely dried up again, the water was still fairly fresh. As a characteristic instance of the fashion in which occasionally inundated ground in this uppermost portion of the Kashgar river delta is utilized for spasmodic cultivation, I may mention that two small patches of open ground a couple of miles from that last lagoon had been brought under the plough as terelghas for a year or two, by settlers from Ordeklik on the distant high road. I had occasion to observe similar cases on the lower Tarim and near the termination of the rivers of Kuchâ.l4

Our march on October 15th was longer and offered opportunities for several observations of interest. Its line led for the first two miles or so between living tamarisk-cones, and then across a succession of alluvial fans of bare clay flanked northward by much-eroded foot-hills and on the south by a wide belt of salt-encrusted ground with living tamarisks. All day we had a full view of the range both near and far ; from this point it takes a slightly more northerly trend. Quite uniform in its utter barrenness, it yet displayed striking differences of form and colouring. Beyond the foot-hills, deeply fissured and scarred by erosion, was to be seen a massive wall of red sandstone with a face that appeared in places almost perpendicular. Its height, as clinometrical readings indicated, rises to points above 8,000 feet. Though the visible outfalls of the drainage from the

  • range suggested extremely narrow gorges, yet the wide fans before them bore witness to the big volume of water that they must pour forth on the rare occasions of heavy rainfall. Within a mile or two from the foot of the outer hills, all the alluvial fans seemed to merge in an absolutely level plain of" hard clay with salt-encrusted stretches. The whole landscape curiously suggested a coastline from which a shallow sea had retreated, leaving it to be denuded by all the erosive effects of an extremely arid climate. I was struck, throughout its length, by the absence of a continuous sloping glacis, the usual ` Sai ' of piedmont gravel, and tempted to seek its explanation in the levelling effect of the alluvium deposited through long ages from the wandering beds of the Kashgar river.

In skirting the succession of fans to which we first came about eight miles from camp, I noticed again and again unmistakable evidence of more moisture in the past ; it was afforded by dead Toghraks, all prostrate and of very ancient appearance, forming rows in a north to south direction. In view of the fact often noted before in the course of my desert travels that wild poplars always grow in lines along running watercourses, or parallel to them where the flow of subsoil water keeps them alive, these lines of ancient Toghraks, found usually by the west and east edges of

14 Cf. Serindia, iii. pp. 1231, 1233 ; also below, Chap. )(mu. sec. iii.

Old beds from Kash-gar river.

March along barren

range of foot-hills.

Evidence of desiccation.