“As one approaches the plain, the gorge, instead of opening out, becomes narrower, the cliffs more precipitous, and the track more rocky; and just when the weary traveler is beginning to look forward to the end of the stage, the gorge becomes impassable, and the path ascends for several hundreds of feet by flights of irregular stone steps, winds round the top of a spur...and drops straight down on to Paoch’eng.”
A British diplomat and traveler, Teichman first went to China in 1907 as a student interpreter in the consular service. Assigned to the Northwest, he rose to be a consular officer and in 1917 accompanied some Chinese officials on numerous trips throughout Shaanxi, Sichuan, and Gansu Province to investigate compliance with the Anglo-Chinese Opium Treaty. Two of these trips were along the Road to Shu and were included in his account of his journeys published in 1921 under the title Travels of a Consular Officer in North-West China. Despite the fact that he suffered from severe arthritis and the crippling effects of an earlier riding accident, he continued to travel extensively, returning home from his 1919–1935 Beijing-embassy posting by way of Turkistan. He was an advisor to the British embassy in Chongqing for a year during World War II and, returning home, was shot and killed by an American soldier whom he caught poaching on the grounds of his home. The quote above describes one of the most difficult passages along the old road which, unfortunately, now lies buried under the waters of the Shimen Reservoir. You can see the higher stretch of flagstone that still remains on the hill to the left. The road on the lower right is a newly completed highway which borders the reservoir.