Day 5 A 7hr hike through Tiger Leaping Gorge

Trip Start Mar 23, 2012
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Tuesday, March 27, 2012

After a breakfast of Tibetan fried rice and some dodgy poached eggs, we put our big bags into storage and headed off with a sandwich and a big water each. We we're immediately fearing the 28 bends, which as the name suggests 28 bends which steeply rise and are the main climb on this walk. After 5 minutes or so along the lower trail (now a brand new proper road) we started heading upwards. For the first half it was an hour gently climbing through small villages with rice terraces where old women were looking after their shy small grandchildren. We soon caught sight of the Five Finger Mountains, named after the five magnificent peaks standing in a row. We took photos of them with our view partially blocked, we didn't know if we'd get a better photo later on. As you'll see the photos just got better and better. A little while later the path turned steeply and onto a path which could only be taken on foot (or by donkey). We carried on walking through small villages but they were becoming smaller and more remote. 

The path swept to the west until we were walking in a parallel line to the Five Mountains, we were treated to an incredible view looking down the gorge we were about to step into. An old Naxi woman tried to sell us water, fruit and a big smoke on her pipe. After we turned her down she wanted us to pay 3 yuan fee for something she had made up. We walked a few meters away and took photos while she hurled abuse at us. At around 11 we reached our last small village, we stopped to take have a drink and take a photo of possibly the most scenic basketball court in the world.

The path was becoming increasingly steep and narrower but we still weren't at the 28 bends of which we were dreading. We walked up through a forested section until a sign came up, "Gain energy for 28 bends" next to a women selling red bull. Against Edana's wishes I started to count them, they weren't anywhere as bad as we thought though. After half an hour I had counted twenty or so and we were almost there, the last few were a lot longer but we did them without having to take long breaks like we had feared. At this point the mountain became much steeper and we were obviously much higher and we were treated to our first view of the river down below.

After the 28 bends the path leveled out and valley after valley revealed ever more amazing views, some how different every time. My vertigo was rarely pushed to my limits as the path was wide enough I didn't have worry. A couple of times we were able to push ourselves and sit on the end of a perilous rock. We were able to sit and have our sandwiches at the outward point of two valleys, getting the best of both of the views. Luckily we saw less than 10 people the whole day who were walking, only one going the same way as us. We felt very alone and it was perfect.

We knew there were two possible hostel stays, we wanted to go to the further one but as we approached the first it started to lightly rain. In our poorly equipped clothes we didn't stand much of a chance in the rain. Luckily however it started to subside and we decided to risk it to get to the further hostel. After another 1 and a half and 7 hours altogether we arrived at Halfway Inn, with the best view by far we have had from a hotel room. We caught the last of the sun with a beer on the roof terrace,  and I got a facebook profile picture I will use until I'm 30. Intermittent power led to an odd dining experience and sleep (no electric blankets!), but the views overwhelmed all of the bad elements. I reckon it was my favorite day of our whole trip, the walk wasn't half as bad as we thought and was twice as scenic as we had hoped. 
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