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0668 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 668 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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March to Tur-köl.

Across watershed towards Barkul.


to the west. For when, after a long ascent along the gravel glacis of a barren outer range running parallel to the Karlik-tàgh, we dropped down into the valley westward, we found village lands abundantly watered by lively streams. They come down straight from small glaciers and permanent snow-fields that crown the crest of the Karlik-tàgh down to about 12,000 feet above sea-level. The amount of drainage they carry is sufficiently indicated by the fact that the small river formed below Atüriik, after breaking through the outer range, contains enough water to irrigate the fields of Nöm, a village situated at the foot of the outer range some thirty miles farther down. The abundance of grazing on the northern slopes of the Karlik-tàgh was brought home to me by the admission of Abdul Niàz, our host, the headman of Atüriik, that he kept there some three hundred ponies of his own, besides a large flock of sheep. The number of sheep belonging to the Wang of Hàmi that are grazed there was put at over ten thousand. It was said that snow lay at Atüriik for close on four months to a depth of two or three feet, and that rain was fairly frequent during the summer. During the winter months all the flocks and herds move down to the valleys of the outer range northwards, where the snow-fall is sufficient for their watering and vegetation is abundant. The comfort, amounting almost to rustic luxury, that we found under Abdul Niàz Dögha's hospitable roof well illustrated the wealth derived from conditions so favourable to grazing.

Next day we continued our journey westwards towards the basin of the lake known as Tits-köl.2 Passing in full view of the snows of the Karlik-tàgh (Fig. 289), we found abundant scrub and short grass even on the stony plateau of Kara-singir (Map No. 37. A. 2), close on 7,000 feet above sea-level, which separates the basin from the Atüriik valley. I received the same impression of nomadic ease and wealth when halting that night at the camp of the ` Dögha' (Darögha) of the Tur-köl `Tàghliks', which lay at that time above the Turgan-gol stream. His people were also growing oats on patches of cultivation lower down towards the lake. But the mud huts built near these were not permanently occupied, and the whole little community was by November moving its ` Ak-ois ' to the valleys north of the outer range for winter pasture. Winter was evidently close at hand, and the Turgan-gol was half-frozen when we left this pleasant Turki encampment.

On the long march of some thirty-two miles, which on September 30th carried us across the watershed dividing the basins of the lakes of Tur-köl and Barkul, we had striking proof of the abundant grazing that this ground affords and of the changed climatic conditions that account for it. A wide belt of rich grass land encircled the lake and its fringe of spring-fed marshes, and horses belonging to the Wang of Hàmi were grazing here in large numbers. The wide valley of Ölügoi (Map No. 34. D. I, 2), which was seen descending from the north-west towards the lake, was stated also to provide ample grazing. Its streams drain the southern slopes of the previously mentioned outer range. This rises at the head of the valley to heights of well over II ,000 feet, and the highest portion of its crest was said to retain snow all through the summer. At the time of our passage, fresh snow covered its slopes to a much lower level, as it did those of the Karlik-tàgh to the south. The watershed towards the basin of Barkul is formed by a broad spur jutting out from the Karlik-tàgh to the north-west (Map No. 34. D. 2), and as we moved up to it over a stony Sai on which scrub grew in plenty, conifer forest was seen to clothe the slopes down to about five hundred feet above the almost flat saddle (7,290 feet). Such forest growth, which probably consisted in the main of firs, remained within constant sight on the subsequent marches to Barkul and also for a considerable distance beyond, as seen in Map No. 34. It here covers the northern slopes of the Tien-shan between the elevations of about 9,000 and 7,50o feet and offers ocular demonstration of the great climatic divide that is formed by the crest of the range ; for no forest growth whatever

2 This is the name of the lake as I heard it usually pronounced ; Tor-köl is another form also used. For an early Chinese designation, see below, p. 541.