Trip Start Sep 03, 2007
Trip End Dec 22, 2007

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Flag of China  ,
Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Chinese have a saying about Mt. Huangshan: "No need to visit any other mountains after visiting the five famous mountains. No need to visit the five famous mountains after coming back from Huangshan." They were right.

Before coming to Huangshan we had heard a couple of things: 1) it is gorgeous 2) the entire climb is stairs. One cannot quite comprehend either of these statments without actually experiencing it for oneself. I think that I climbed more stairs climbing to the top of this mountain than I have in my entire life.

Many people take a taxi to the main entrance and then either climb the rest of the way or take a cable car. This part of the hike is about 2 1/2 - 3 hours. We decided that we wanted to climb the entire mountain. We wanted to see this waterfall before we started the main hike of the mountain. This part of the hike was also all stairs and was also about 2 1/2 hours long. However, it was an incredible hike and well worth the effort.

As we climbed up the mountain through bamboo forests and breathtaking views and best of all silence. As everyone chooses to take a taxi there were no people on this trail. One of the hardest things to get used to in China is the noise. The small cities have over 2 million people. There is no escaping the noise and the pollution. However, as we climbed the air became purer and we could breathe easier and relax. It was hard not to be awed by the beauty. The waterfall was at its lowest water pressure so there wasn't much to see. But the views along the trail were incredible. It was hard not to be humbled by the grandness of this mountain. You feel so small, but also so connected with the world and with nature. It was so awe-inspiring that I felt nothing less than spirtual. I am so grateful to been able to experience this, and I hope that everyone and some point in their life can feel this connectness with nature as one does on this hike. Its impossible to explain with words, I can only hope that some of my pictures can give you a sense of the power of this mountain.

Then we reached the main gate and saw all the people. We rested a short while and then began the second half of the hike. I cannot explain what it is like to climb up that many stairs. About half way up the exhuastion sets in and it takes every ounce of energy to step your foot up on the next step. There are people climbing both up and down at all different speeds. There are also men climbing up and down with poles on their back, attached to these poles are items such as tiles and laundry. You have to jump out of the way to avoid being hit. Regardless of the amount of people climbing the mountain, everyone is so encouraging. China has such a sense of community that is rarely found in America. People would smile and say an encouraging word. One man patted me on the back and said "You can do it." It made the near impossible and little more enjoyable. I must say that I don't remember much of this part of the hike except continouslly looking up to see more stairs. I was to exhausted to concentrate on the scenery. However, we finally made it to the top and then we had to hike to our hotel.

When we finally found the hotel (the signs on the trail don't show the hotels and are all in Chinese..) we took showers and crashed. Only raising to eat an incredibly expensive buffet dinner at the hotel. We were planning on looking around a bit more and at lease getting a drink at the hotel bar so we could meet people, but at this point walking anywhere was out of the question. We set our alarms so we could get up at 5am for the sunrise and passed out at about 8:00pm.

In total we hiked about 7 hours to get to the top of the mountain... However, once at the top you have to climb even more stairs to get to any of the peaks you want to see. I must say that every step was worth it.
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