Tiger Leaping Jumping Flying Gorge

Trip Start Mar 14, 2006
Trip End Mar 15, 2007

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Flag of China  ,
Wednesday, May 17, 2006

With the days hike ahead of us I felt no guilt (ok maybe a little, but only a little) in wolfing down as much Baba bread as Mama piled onto my plate much to her delight, that still did not stop me polishing off half of Lihi's either. Lightweight.

The mini bus to the gorge went direct from the guest house with 5 of us in it, the others being 2 more Israelis, by far the most common travelers I've met in western China.

We arrived at the start of the gorge two hours later but were lucky to make it at all with the mini bus driver confusing the winding narrow roads of Yunnan for the streets of Monaco during the grand prix, a simple mistake I'm sure anyone could have made.

We checked in with Margo, an Australian who owns a little guest house at the start of the gorge, and she gave us some info and maps for the trail as well as the sound advice of applying plenty of sun screen since it was already hot plus we were at altitude, around 2000m.

As we walked the first part of the trail and turned into the gorge itself we were greeted with an amazing sight of snow capped mountains towering over the Yangzi river below, including the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain at 5,596 meters. It was no wonder at this point why it is the deepest/highest gorge in the world at around 3700 meters at its biggest depth difference I think. Two hours into the hike we reached Naxi Family Guesthouse were we had stopped for lunch as did the horse riding cabbie who had followed us all the way from the start waiting for one of us to crack and hitch a lift.

After refueling we set off again climbing higher and higher above the river as we neared a section known as the 28 bends but was in reality more than 30 probably due to plenty of hikers taking shortcuts, can't say I blame them. This was definitely the hardest part of the whole trek with the steep path winding up and up with the sun beating down making it no less easy. Lihi in particular was finding it very hard with her little engine struggling to make it up the steep climb even with Idan's help, I'm sure there were more than a couple of Hebrew swear words echoing around the gorge at this point. She refused though to give in and take the horse to the top which both Idan and I thought best but can't say we really blamed her as sitting atop a horse on sharp, narrow, loose rock covered path may not have been the safest choice.

When we finally reached the top we gave the 28 bends a new name also beginning with 'b' which was also what the guy up there was, charging people for looking or taking pictures near the edge although I saw few acknowledging his request for payment, we had already paid to enter the gorge after all - hardly surprising being China.

From here it was a much easier walk to the Half Way Guesthouse (although it was actually three quarters of the way) were we planned to stay the night and arrived there just after 6pm. The one good thing about the strong sun all day (my sunburn not being one of them) was that there was plenty of hot water for a shower due to it being solar powered. The guesthouse also had possibly the best vista I've ever seen while going to the toilet with snow topped mountain peaks staring your right in the face - suppose we should be used to little privacy in Chinese toilets by now.
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