Without Xu Xiake MountainSongs would not exist. Xu's Travel Diaries have been our guide from Emeishan to Tiantaishan to Guizhou. This Ming Dynasty traveler and geographer was quite amazing in the ground he covered in his lifetime and the record of his travels that he left behind. Today, only five years into MountainSongs, we have only traced a small portion of his ramblings. Xu Xiake was a mountain among travelers!|
The extraordinary thing about Xu Xiake is that he was able to make such detailed and accurate records of his travels. Climbing uncharted mountains in all kinds of weather, without any modern REI equipment or rain gear, staying the nights, at best, in cold Buddhist monasteries, with only candles for light, How could he possibly have remembered all he saw, and then have brushed it down each night? How did he manage to have dry paper to brush on?
Now I follow his tracks with a digital camera, a GPS, an iPod recorder and a Powerbook. During the the days I climb and collect data. At night I download our images and other data to my Powerbook in a reasonably comfortable temple with power, or in a small hotel with internet access. And still, after a week of travel I am so far behind in organizing my data that I must take a break to make certain that I do not forget what I have seen.
Warmest thanks to our good companion Xiake!!