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The Magical China Trip 2012

Huang Shan – Yellow Mountain

CHINA | Saturday, 13 October 2012 | Views [829]

Trees framing the mountains

Trees framing the mountains

Well, I didn’t exactly climb the mountain.  Alvin, my guide, talked me into taking the cable car up.  However, we walked up steps and down steps for a good 3-½ hours.  Does that count?  I think it does.  I had no idea what I was getting into.  Had I walked up the mountain, Alvin said it would have taken another 3-4 hours.  I puffed my way up and down the stairs as it was – this in spite of running stairs at school and at the library to prepare for the trek.  There is no level spot except where the Hotel(s) have been placed.  There are currently six hotels on the mountain, soon to be seven.

 

The Yellow Mountains are amazing.  I think you have to be here to believe them.  The first day we arrived in gray clouds and mist.  It was cold.  I had not brought my heavier weather jacket because we had to carry everything up the mountain and weight mattered.  I stored my suitcase at the hotel in Huang Shan City.  Fortunately, the hotel on the mountain acknowledges the cold and provides (bright red) down jackets.  I wore mine in the afternoon and evening (in my room!) because there is no heat.  Fresh air seems to be the rule and there is fresh air aplenty.  I slept warm and cozy under two duvets.

 

On our way from the cable car terminus to the hotel, we stopped by “Beginning to Believe Peak.”  As the story goes, a monk was wandering in the Yellow Mountains looking for the monastery (long gone now).  He had climbed and climbed in the fog and mist so long that he was beginning to lose faith.  When he reached a certain peak in the mountains, the sun came out and showed him the way.  Thus, it became “Beginning to Believe Peak.”  The interesting part of the story to me is that we also climbed in the fog and mist, but shortly after Alvin took my picture at the top of the peak, the sun came out and began to warm us up.  The message:  “Do not lose heart.”

 

After a lunch buffet at the hotel, Alvin and I walked to the Grand Canyon of the West Sea.  Huang Shan Mountain area is actually rather large.  There are trails, that is, cement pathways with innumerable steps, leading to the various scenic sights.  These sights have all been named over the millennium and one could spend weeks going to each view.  The Grand Canyon of the West Sea (there is no real West Sea, unless it is the cloud sea that appears under certain weather conditions) is particularly impressive, though not very close to the hotel, so Alvin picked that as a good afternoon’s excursion.

 

It took a while to get there, and we didn’t make the full loop, but it was definitely worth the walk, weak knees, and sore feet.  The fall colors and the sudden drop-offs were spectacular.  I felt a reverence for these mountains, a connection with the ancient past, and a new appreciation for the beauty of nature.  At one point, we were pretty much alone on the trail – highly unusual in populous China – so we sat on a convenient bench, as much to breathe and be as to rest.  I could feel the special energy of the mountains, which seem both completely unlike any place else in the world, and very similar to the mountains of Idaho where I live.

 

When I left Idaho, the fall colors were just beginning.  Here they were on the verge of coming into fullness.  In Idaho we have both pine and deciduous trees on the mountain; the same on Yellow Mountain.  In Idaho, in view from my bedroom windows there is a tall granite outcropping, its gray solidity in contrast to the trees and shrubs that grow next to it.  The granite outcroppings in the Yellow Mountains surpass any I have seen, but they are the gray granite I see in Idaho.

 

As I snapped one of the pictures, called “Framed Mountains,” I experienced an “aha” about my unconscious.  Not many of you have seen my attempts at drawing because I don’t share them.  However, when I draw, I often use a 3x5 card and, with pen and ink, create a frame line about ¼” in from the edges.  Within that frame, I place short-needled pine branches in the foreground and soft peaked mountains in the background.  When I saw the photo I had taken, I realized that it looked like a real-life rendering of my drawings.  I wonder how many lives I have spent in Huangshan or just in China itself.  I had never recognized my drawings as having a real source.  I usually think of the mountains in them as similar to the Boise foothills (just above Lucky Peak) with pine trees in the foreground.  But now I wonder …

 

The morning of the second day in the Yellow Mountains dawned clear, crisp, and cold.  Tour groups began assembling outside the hotel (in view and earshot of my room) around 6 a.m., ready to head out to watch dawn come in the mountains.  I was too cold (and a little too sore) to explore very far, but after breakfast I sat in the sun until time to head back to the cable car.  Then I took more pictures along the way.  The clear air and sunshine changed the characteristics of the mountains wonderfully.  I find I like the mountains in the mist and in the sunshine.  It is all a part of the creative and changing earth.

Tags: china, huang shan, yello mountain

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