Published: August 1st 2012August 30th 2012
Tibetan Prayer Flags
These flags were flying at the summit of the trail
We arrived at Qiaotou village in Zhongdian county a little confused about where to go for our hike… the signage isn’t all that great. After chatting with a few locals, we finally got our bearings straight and started walking. We checked our large bags with a hostel at the park entrance since we didn’t want to carry them the entire 16km length of the two day hike. We had already heard that this hike was extremely grueling even for very fit and experienced climbers, so we didn’t need to be weighed down. Unfortunately, we had nothing to carry water or a change of clothes in, so I ended up going to a convenience store and buying a bunch of plastic bags to toss our stuff in. We definitely did not look like seasoned hikers as we trekked on with a few grocery bags filled with supplies up the mountain. It looked like we had just been shopping. The first evening we hiked about2 and a half hours to reach the Naxi Family Guesthouse inside the park. Most of the people who live in the park are Naxi people, and they have many guesthouses set up for tired travelers along the way.
We had clouds below us, clouds above us, and everywhere in between.
Once we got in, we set our “bags” down and then grabbed a beer. We met this couple from England who was also traveling and ended up having dinner with them and chatting late into the night. Right before bed, the thunder rolled in, and lightning lit up the sky so we were hoping it didn’t rain too much and make our trek difficult the next day. Fortunately for us, things stayed pretty dry.
When we got up the next day, the views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain were absolutely spectacular. Here in Tiger Leaping Gorge, we were on the opposite side of the mountain than when we were in Lijiang. There was a perfect blend of blue skies and clouds, and the temperature was very suitable for our long walk ahead of us. What we saw on the hike was one of the most beautiful areas I’ve seen in China or anywhere else in the world for that matter. The gorge ascends 13,000ft from the river below to the mountain peak above; truly amazing. The river was absolutely raging. It looked like a dam had burst somewhere. I’ve never seen anything like it. Not only this, but the
meadows, cliffs, and waterfalls along the way also make this a truly unique hike. We also ran into several herds of goats along the way which was pretty cool. We ended up meeting up with the same English couple we had met the day before, as well as a Chinese traveler, and after eight hours from start to finish (we stopped an hour for lunch), we finally made it to the end. The journey back to the guesthouse was a little on the interesting side… we had to hire a private car to take us back, but the car could only take us 2km where a HUGE landslide had destroyed the road. There was absolutely nothing left of a large piece of road. We had to climb over huge boulders to get across before grabbing a different van to take us all the way back. The view from the bottom of the gorge was also very impressive, but we were glad to be off the road and back to the hostel when we arrived. Sleep soon followed.
There are more photos below