Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tiger Leaping Gorge

I'm in Qiaotou right now, the town where most people begin the hike to Tiger Leaping Gorge. I arrived here last night, on a bus that I wasn't sure was going in the right direction. Several times I tried to make sure I was on the right bus, but no one spoke English. I managed to say the name of the town enough times that when we actually got to it, people urged me to get off. There are very few direct buses here, most stop on the way to other places.

The thing to do here is hike the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Named so because there is a fable that a tiger leaped across the river at some point long ago. The hike is normally done over a course of two to three days, but looked at the map and the distances, I was sure I could do it over one and catch a car back to the town. The hotel owner was doubtful.

I started the hike a little after 9:00am. The first obstacle was the ticket booth. The hike trail is supposed to be free right now, because of the construction that's going on in the area, but the ticket booth was a little old lady that was swearing up and down that an admission of thirty yuen. I told her I would give her thirty yuen if she could give me a ticket for the hike. Of course she didn't have any tickets, she was just trying to take advantage of gullible tourists.

I continued on at a pretty good pace and passed a few people who had left earlier. The scenery was great, though not quite what I thought it would be. What I wasn't expecting were the the number of villagers I encountered along the way. The hike passes through two villages proped up on the steep hillside.

I reached the destination, a restaurant along the road, at a little over 3:30 pm. With time to spare, I decided to hike down to the water. This actually added an additional two hours to the hike, but it was well worth it. You really appreciate the size of the gorge from the very bottom. Once I climbed back up to the restaurant and arranged for a car to take me back to town.

The ride back to town was quite an experience. The road to the restaurant is being overhauled. The construction involved blowing up some of the rock and there was a ton of debris along the road. The driver would often get out of the car to clear rocks. There were also a ton of construction vehicles blocking the road and our driver would try to get around them along some very steep cliffs. The vehicle we were in had very little clearance and I was quite shocked that we were able to make it back to town with the car still in one piece.




Anonymous said...

Stunning. The views are just amazing, those mountains are so steep. I think I would be saying "oh-oh" the whole way up.

Hamilton was great, but no pictures. I;m off to Grande Prairie tomorrow, that's French for big Prairies.


Marko said...

you should keep a blog :)

Anonymous said...

No doubt you could make the hike in one day. Not surprised there are villages on the cliff. How many people in China?

Again, wonderful pictures. Next stop north? Can't wait to read your next story.


Steve said...

The picture of the water down in the gorge is beautiful. I'm not sure how fast that water is running or what the levels are like, but it looks like it would be an interesting canoe trip down that narrow river!

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