Skipping over a lot of the trip so far, because internet has been incredibly difficult to work with! This afternoon I returned back to Tunxi from Mount Huangshan (the Yellow Mountains) for two more nights before heading to Hong Kong, and I’m so sore I can’t walk anywhere so I’ve got some time for an update.
Mount Huangshan was absolutely beautiful, even in the wind and rain! Unfortunately bad timing led to a trek up the mountain in less than the best weather conditions, but I’d met the awesome gal Aurora from Wyoming, old like me 🙂 but crazy (also like me) and traveling solo, and so we decided to hike up the mountain for two nights of adventures.
We left Tunxi at 6:20 Monday morning, we had been told to wait until Monday to avoid the holiday traffic (International Labor Day and May Day) as prices were double on the mountain, and the mountain has already pricey accommodations for China.
From Tunxi the ride is about 1 hour to the town where the Tourist Buses drop off, from there you take another bus up about 29 minutes to the Huangshan Scenic area, where you can either climb up the mountain or take a cable car. We’d made plans to hike up with our packs, which turned out to be VERY challenging but also rewarding. We walked 316 flights of stairs in 6 miles, which may not sound like much… but there was no flat land or level ground until we reached the hotel and tourism level of the mountain.
The mountain is known for its stunning granite peaks, Huangshan Pines, sunsets, sunrises, and is said to be the loveliest mountain range in China and the birthplace of Chinese tourism. In the Tang Dynasty in the 8th Century this mountain is said to have been the place where the long sought elixir of immortality was found. Which is funny because I thought this mountain might kill me by day 3 of hiking 🙂
The mountain is in Anuhi Province of China and covers 15,400 sq. kilometers and is a UNESCO Heritage sight.
It took us about 3 hours to hike up to our hotel, we checked into our dorm, bunking with 4 other girls, and after a quick collapse we decided to limp our way up to Monkey Gazing at the Sea for a chance at the sunset. Unfortunately it was incredibly windy and rainy and (surprise!) I was not loving being cold, sore, and wet, but…. it was worth it because we got a decent view of this peak, which we didn’t get when revisiting it for Tuesday nights subset! So I’m very glad I pushed past the pain to climb the peak.
FOOD- there are two ways to get up the mountain; by cable car or by foot, there aren’t any cars or delivery systems on the mountain, and the food is carried up the hill by porters on foot. So there are very few restaurants, one per hotel, charging 100 RMB for dinner ($13 USD approximately) which is a small fortune here, as usually an entire night and day in China can be less than 75 RMB. So we were advised to pack up our own food, or purchase packaged sundries for triple the cost at the top, so of course we packed it all up… the downside being China does not have a great selection of packaged foods unless you like nothing but carbs or mystery meat. We had gone grocery shopping and bought what we could only guess we’re cans of beans; shopping is a bit like Russian Roulette! Turns out they are Bean, Hominy, Corn and “slime” mixtures… so for the last 3 days I survived off of Chines DingDongs and candied peanuts and fried bananas. Aurora had brought a bowl of ramen, and it was the first time in my life I’ve ever been envious of someone else’s ramen 😂
On Tuesday night I attempted to eat “canned corn” and broke down and bought 3 hot dogs from an outdoor vendor to supplement my meal as I just couldn’t handle the packaged goods anymore. I should note that as I’m writing this I’m sitting outside and have just finished a delicious chive pancake ( a light bread pocket with chives and glass noodles and peppers) and I’m sipping on Chinese Vodka and what I’m pretty sure is peach juice?! The vodkaish liquor and peach stuff I bought at the store, and the Chive Pancake (3rd night this week) all cost a total of 17 RMB, and that’s IF I was to drink the entire bottle of vodka, so essentially my meal has cost 9 CNY (CNY and RMB are interchangeable) which is approximately $1.30 USD and it’s SO MUCH better than the food I’ve eaten for the last few days.
Back to the mountain though… Mount Huangshan definitely qualified as my #30before30 list item of “Climb a ridiculously large Mountain” and I’m so proud of myself for pushing through multiple days where I thought my calves and quads and thighs would burst.
The second morning we hiked the West Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of China. Ironically this was one month after hiking the Grand Canyon with Adam for my Birthday! Two of the worlds best canyons in one month!!! It was super foggy as we started the decent, but cleared up just enough for some amazing views. My knees and calves were so sore from climbing UP the day before that they shook the whole way down, it was steep, foggy, a bit eerie, and I was wobbling and shaking and gripping the handrail for dear life the entire way down. WORTH IT!!!
We hiked up and viewed a bunch of other peaks for some more up hill challenges later in the day, and ended with an amazing sunset.
This morning we were out by about 8am to make the trek back to the West side Cable Car, which took us about 3 miles and 129 more flights of stairs… we stopped frequently, considered crawling, and I’m currently hobbling around like the evil cripple in Aladdin (exactly like that visual).
We’d bought locks 🔐 before ascending the mountain for our trip; I’d read that the Chinese bring their locks and keys up to the mountain and lock them on a outlook observing a peak that they find peace with, and they make a wish for a child’s health, or two lovers lock one lock together to bind their love, a wish for loved ones or our own future, or to lock a secret on the mountain. We’d purchase locks and this morning we made or wishes and locked out lock to a bridge and threw the key out into the wilderness. Can’t tell you all what my wish was for 😉 ❤️
We rather pathetically climbed up two more peaks to make our way to the cable car as there was no way we could walk down to the bottom physically, and we took a bus back to our hostel. This afternoon was spent showering, washing laundry, grocery shopping and trying to cross streets as quickly as possible while hobbling to avoid collisions with mopeds.
I’ve got tonight and tomorrow to try to recoup, attempt to research Hong Kong 🇭🇰 before my trip, and to bask in the glory of LITERALLY climbing the most famous mountain in China.
Sorry the pics aren’t labeled but my internet won’t allow it!
Amazing sunset photo credit to Aurora… I was only whiny and convincing in moving to this spot, which ended up having a terrific view! #teamwork