Mingyong Glacier is located in the Yunnan Province, People's Republic of China, The glacier retreated 200 meters (656 feet) in four years. The region has also seen a rising tree line and these events are believed to be associated with global warming. The glacier is sacred to the local peoples. The glacier is fed by snows which fall on 6,740 m (22,107 ft) Mount Meili, also known as the Meili Snow Mountain. Glaciers in China's Tibetan region are melting at 7 percent annually. At 28.5 degrees north and an elevation of 2,700 meters (8,858 ft), the glacier is located at the lowest latitude and elevation of any glacier in China.
The magnificent Mingyong Glacier is located about 12km north of Feilai Si and it is considered as the lowest glacier within China. The Mingyong Glacier flows for several kilometres down the flanks for the highest peak of the Yunnan Province, the Meili Xueshan (Mt. Meili, Kabego or Kawa Karpo). An easy 2 hours walk leads up to the Taizi Temple, from where you will have a first stunning view of the Mingyong Glacier. For those with energy left can continue further up to the Lianhua temple. There are horses available for those who do not want to visit the Mingyong Glacier on foot. Renting a horse costs about 150 Yuan to Taizi Temple and back. The entrance fee to the Glacier valley is 63 RMB. (Starting point to the Mingyong Glacier, Deqin, Yunnan Province: 28°28'18"N/98°47'1'"E).
Mingyong Glacier in Meili Snow Mountain is China's lowest and southernmost glacier at 2,700 meters above sea level and 28.5 degrees north of the equator. Liu told China's Xinhua News Agency that Mingyong's melting would create two kinds of crises for people living downstream from the glacier. As the rate of melting increased, farms and settlements would be damaged by flooding and mudslides/rockslides. After melting, the disappearance of the glacier would cause rivers to shrink dramatically and drought would ensue.
The Mingyong Glacier
We hired a jeep and driver to take us to Mingyong village, inside the Meili Xue Shan Reserve, the starting point for the walk to the glacier. It’s quite a hairy ride along a narrow road, precariously clinging to the severely eroded mountainside, high above the gushing Langcang, or Mekong, River.
Mingyong village itself is a very clean and cheerful place, with a couple of simple guesthouses, restaurants and shops.
After crossing a bridge you get to the trailhead, where there are lots of ponies and mules for hire, all of them very sleek and well-looked after. However, if you are only planning to go to the glacier, you won’t need any transport, as it isn’t that far and the path is clearly marked. It’s a lovely walk, through an old forest of huge trees, overgrown with moss. The forest floor is covered in ferns and other, lush green plants, interspersed by the occasional wildflower. From time to time you pass piles of mani stones (stones engraved or painted with sacred texts), prayer flags and other signs indicating certain holy rocks or trees. Unlike in other Chinese parks, there are no refreshment stalls, no souvenirs, and no hawkers; absolutely nothing to break the magical ambience of the place!
About two-thirds of the way up, the muddy path is suddenly replaced by a raised wooden plank-way. The views are incredible: over the pine trees and river below, and up towards the beginning of the glacier. This first stretch of plank-way takes you to a clearing with a small, picturesque temple and a couple of snack stalls. From here you can get your first full views of the glacier.
It’s another good half an hour to get right up to the glacier from here; first along another stretch of plank-way, and finally climbing up several flights of stairs, leading to ever higher viewing platforms. Close-up, the glacier looks a bit like a honeycomb, with beautiful blue patches, reflecting in the light.
All in all, it took us about two and a half hours to reach the glacier, but only one and a half to get back down. It was hard work at times, due to the altitude, but certainly worth it.
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