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Published: March 12th 2009
7th March 2009
We woke up early, excited and anxious about the forthcoming couple of days. We were force fed breakfast by Mama (of Mama's Guesthouse), before jumping/squeezing onto a mini-bus with the other 5 trekkers for the 2 hour transfer to Qiaotou, the west start/finish point of Tiger Leaping Gorge. Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the worlds deepest gorges, measuring 4000 metres from the peak of the mountains to the bed of the Yangzi river. Although we had seen pictures of the gorge beforehand, they did not prepare us for what was in store. We were dropped off at Janes Guesthouse where we stocked up on a few supplies, before setting off for the start ......3km away.......with the worlds smallest compass, and maps that, at best were sketches, and at worst were the scribblings of a mad man! Immediately we were hit by the sheer scale of the place; as we joined the trail we were looking straight up at the snow topped Jade Dragon Mountain. Luckily we weren't going that high!! The trail measures between 26-30km depending on what you read. We planned to walk approx. 11km today, to The Tea Horse Guesthouse. It started with a gentle
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Fresh faced on the way to the start!
incline, with us following the very handy red arrows marking the route. We stopped early, after 5km, to have lunch, feeling quite relaxed. Bellies full, this is where it started getting tough....we hiked for a further 45 minutes at a steeper incline, before stopping for some bananas, ready for what was next. The most famous part of the trail is called the 28 Bends, which does exactly what it says on the tin, and reaches a peak of 2670 metres high - a climb of 900 metres from the start. It hurts. We walked at a very sensible pace, stopping often (to look at the scenery, of course..), but kept in sight of the others. We sat at the peak for a while, in the near gale force wind, taking in the sheer enormity of the gorge. The jade green river seemed tiny all those metres below us, yet we could still hear the white waters crashing along. By this point, it was nearing 1700 o'clock, and we had been out for 5 hours, and so we started the descent to our planned guest house. We arrived at 1800ish, in time for a rewarding beer, a nice communal dinner and
what a room with a view!
8th March 2009
As our room had no curtains we woke up looking out at snow capped mountains, led in bed warmed by electric blankets. According to our "map", we had around 14km to do today, plus an optional extra at the end. We set off at 0900, at a good pace, glad that we had paced ourselves yesterday as the view would have been wasted had we pushed on any further the night before. This part of the trail is not for the faint-hearted, with sheer drops of almost 90 degrees hundreds of metres down! It was more exposed too, meaning the wind was making quite an impact. We walked for 2 hours, with a short break at a guesthouse, until we reached Guan Yin Pubu Waterfall, which must be 500 metres high. From here, we started traversing our way down the mountain side, through gravity defying trees and jagged rock, toward our final destination, Tina's Guesthouse. We had been walking for around 4 hours, and so sat down for some lunch. Realising we had 2 hours to kill before our bus back to Lijiang, we decided (the first of a couple
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Climbing.....and shedding layers...
of crazy decisions to come...) to undertake the 'extra' of going down to the rapids, and Tiger Leaping Stone. TLG gets its name from here, where legend has it that a tiger, being chased by a hunter, leaped the 30ft wide gorge to safety! Another reason we decided to do this 2-3 hour trek (we had TWO hours before our bus left) was our 'British Bulldog-edness' (read: stubborness) as an Israeli soldier we had walked with asked us to join him. We scrambled down the steep path in little over 30 minutes, constantly aware of the time, and the climb we had waiting for us. After getting a few snaps of the rapids, we started climbing back up. We had 1 hour. Our legs felt like jelly. It wasn't looking good... However, 45 minutes later, red faced and puffing for air - our thighs feeling like they were on fire - we reached the top, matching our Israeli friend step for step! (It hurt A LOT).
As much as this was at times very strenuous, we enjoyed every step - determined to soak up as much of the obscenely beautiful surroundings as possible. The photos won't do this place
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Daniel contemplating the void
justice, all we can do is recommend that you all come and do this for yourselves. We'll come with you!!
Our bed that night was back in Lijiang, from where we would venture out the folloing day....
Thank you for all Hayley's birthday messages - they are very much appreciated!
And finally, an apology; there are a number of people on our 'to phone' list. The time difference here is causing us a few issues. We will try hard to phone soon, promise xxx
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