TO THE SU-LO-HO DELTA
SECTION I.-BY THE EASTERN COAST OF THE DRIED-UP SEA
MUCH of the night at Camp civ had to be spent in treating the camels, all of which were now March over
beginning to show signs of suffering severely from their long fast. In view of their condition and stony Sai•
of the trouble caused by the need for frequent re-soling, I was glad to continue our march to the
south-south-east. This course offered the hope of avoiding inlets of the sea, with their hard salt
crust, and of keeping to the slightly higher ground with its easy going. After covering about
five miles over decomposed clay showing flakes of gypsum, we crossed a wide depression covered
by salt-coated gravel and then passed on to a stony Sai. Ledges of disintegrated rock, apparently
composed of reddish chalk and quartz, cropped out above it. The ground became increasingly
stony as we approached, after eight miles' march, a low but conspicuous ridge, the last offshoot
of a hill chain descending towards the sea basin from the ENE. Similar decomposed ridges
separated by depressions were in sight ahead.
As the ancient route must obviously have avoided such broken ground I changed now our Cairn found
bearing to SSW. so as again to keep closer to the edge of the dried-up sea which the route was more on ridge.
likely to have skirted. As we passed along the stony ridge above referred to, which rose about a
hundred feet above the level of the adjacent Sai, we came upon two small and roughly built cairns
at the point marked on the map (No. 32. c. 3). On the larger of them lay the much-weathered
remains of some animal's horn no longer recognizable. Near them there was a small triangle
laid out on the ground with stones, pointing towards the west. It seemed difficult to ascribe great
antiquity to this rough mark, and still more so to account for its presence on ground which for
centuries past could have attracted neither travellers nor hunters. From the ridge we could see
the greyish plain of hard salt crust extending westwards to the horizon, as boundless as the open
sea ; its shore-line, which was free from Ydrdangs, approached within a distance of about two miles .1 To the east groups of bold peaks were now clearly to be seen, continuing towards the ENE.
the line of the headland towards which our course had been shaped since we had emerged from the
belt of Yardangs. I had taken this headland, the elevation of which was indicated by the clinometer as ranging from 3,210 to 3,84o feet, for the promontory overlooking the entrance to the great eastern
bay along which we were to make our way to Besh-toghrak. The sight of those bold peaks in line with it, rising, as subsequent readings showed, to about 4,70o feet (Map No. 32. D. 4), now fully confirmed that conclusion.
Descending the gentle slope of the stony Sai below the ridge with the cairns, we struck, at March along
a distance of twelve miles from camp, an inlet of the sea-bed. After crossing this, we found ourselves Sai above
once again on the track of the thieves, which we had lost soon after leaving camp. It was running straight from the terminal headland above mentioned, and thus showed us plainly the direction towards Yulghun-bulak, the point where the rogues had struck off from the caravan track. To
1 In Map No. 32. c. 3, by a draughtsman's error which with salt-coated gravel '. The area marked with symbols of
escaped attention, the contour line south of C. civ has been hard salt crust should have been extended about two miles
carried too far west, instead of curving round the ` depression farther east.