Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Huangshan Mountains

So we've been home for almost a month and I still haven't gotten through our China vacation. We have had a few unwelcome adventures lately. I have dedicated the next hour to write as much as possible. Here we go.

After leaving Beijing we headed south to the Huangshan. We met a new tour guide, Libby, who set us up in our hotel for a few hours before a very busy (and my favorite) day in China.

Huangshan, literally "yellow mountain", is a range of mountains that were carved by glaciers. The area is known for its granite peaks, a specific type of tree, and being able to see down on clouds. The area is prominent in Chinese art and literature and was the inspiration for "Pandora" in James Cameron's Avatar.

Ready for some hiking? Yes please!
Our driver took us up the mountain where we got on a cable car that would take us further into the Yellow Mountains.

The views were phenomenal. Really. The scale and contrast were fantastic. These pictures do not do this area justice.

Libby taking us over Lover's Bridge - covered with thousands of locks. Honey, throw away the key.

The weather was perfect for our first day on the mountains. We hiked through the populated areas and saw rock formations with funny names like The Immortal Pointing the Way, A Monkey Gaping at the Sea, and The Flower Grown Out of a Writing Brush Rock.

We spent hours climbing from mountain to mountain. We wanted to see some of the more secluded areas so we started hiking to the other side of the park. The trails are well marked by a series of stone steps. Hours and hours of stair climbing. By the afternoon I was hoping for more uphills because coming down was killer on my knees.

On the other side of the park the area became less developed and our trail would be edging on rock. It amazes me how free and open the trails are in China and Japan. For fear of being sued, parks often put up fencing and railings in the US. Not so out here. We did meet a man out on these far reaches that took inventory of us. The park is so large that they post people in the more rugged areas to take inventory. If we got lost they would know what area to look first based on our last check-in.

Libby estimated we hiked about 20 kilometers during the day. She commented that we were the most active of her clients. Twenty kilometers isn't too bad for a day's sightseeing. The hard part was the ups and downs of the stairs!

We both agree this was our favorite area in China. We would come back to Huangshan in a heartbeat if it meant we could explore this area some more. I highly recommend Huangshan to anyone with strong knees and a sense of adventure.

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