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Published: April 23rd 2010
Arriving at a small town called Qiau Tou, I left my bigger bag in storage and embarked for one of the best trekking experiences in Yunnan province: The Tiger Leaping Gorge. The gorge is nestled between two massive mountains, Haba and Dragon Snow Mountain. It is said that countless years ago a tiger was seen jumping from one side to the other and hence the gorge received it's name. From the start I made my way up into the mountains to one side of the gorge, the scenery just got better and better the higher I rose.
Passing a small village, I carried on until I reached a section called the 28 bends, a path which zigzagged up the mountain until the top at about 2600 metres. From here the views were great but I had no idea what was to come. Gladly it was cloudy as I was sweating enough and did not need a clear days sun to help me out.
After the bends I descended slightly and then the path evened out and continued for hours along the gorge. The path varied, at times through trees, along the cliffs, through rocky passes, farmland, small villages. I
saw numerous animals along the way, mainly mountain goats and yaks. Often we'd literally pass each other on the very path!
A while later a snow covered mountain range came into view, most of the peaks must have towered above 5000 metres. I stopped often to stare at the awesomness. As the evening approached, I stopped in at a guesthouse in a village along the way called the Half-Way House. There I met other trekkers, who had already arrived or were trickling in after myself. The food at this place was quite good and the mountainous view even better. I ate dinner with some of the others, they all seemed to be from around Europe. I learnt quite a bit about European politics and the EU on this night. Everyone went to sleep early in anticipation for the next part of the trek.
The view over breakfast was was spectacular. I left with a few others and together we continued along. After about two hours we made it down to the road area. We then continued our way down to the middle gorge area, making our way to the bottom where we had a close up view of
the rushing river. Taking a break, I could also see the point where the legendary tiger made its jump (who knows if it actually made it). Moving on, we climbed up a rickety forty meter ladder, which thankfully held, and then made it all the way back up, with burning calves, to the roadway.
From here another adventure was to begin. I had to head back to Qiau Tou, along with some of the others, to get our main bags. The cost of getting a minivan back to the town was 150 yuan, quite steep, although it was spread out between all of us. I soon realized why it cost what it did. Massive roadwork was taking place all over the roadway below, I kept hearing deafening dynamite going off throughout the trek. The van collected us and took us along, one of the bumpiest rides of my life, as there was literally no road left to drive on. We had to keep stopping for trucks to move on or through.
At about halfway back the driver gets out, then tells everyone that we continue on foot. Alright then. I'm walking ahead and get to some giant boulders
blocking the road (what looked to be a landslide). Some workers were sitting a top, smoking cigarettes, and nonchalantly motioning me to go around the obstruction. Only problem was there wasn't a whole lot of place to go around anything! I had to go along the cliffside, with unstable rock and lose dirt at my feet. One slip and there was a 400 metre plummet to the river below. This was getting better by the minute. We all did make it through, some fighting off nerves better than others. The walk continued for another few minutes until we reached the next minibus and made it back to the bumpy road all the way to the initial start point. The journey back took about two hours total. From there I grabbed my gear and headed south to Lijiang.
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