The stairs look busy but the crowd of people only grew steadier as we climbed.
For the weeklong national holiday, Krista and I decided to go see Yellow Mountain. A 10 hour train ride to the west. We arrived late but luckily there were rooms left at a local hostel.
Yellow Mountain received its name in 747 CE in recognition of the legendary Yellow Emperor Huang Di. The Emperor would sit on the mountain and make magic pills for immortality. Flash forward to modern times and this place has become one of the largest tourist sites in China and a protected national park.
Our first full day we took a taxi to the foot of the mountain ready to begin the climb. There were crowds of people milling about, standing in line and waiting to begin their ascent. Some of them had camping equipment for sleeping on the summit and a few only had water bottles.
The line for the gondolas was too long and so we joined the rest of the hikers in the much shorter (and in much better shape) line. While waiting for our turn we were approached by a group of people who offered to sell us some tickets so they could go home. I guess the hike up the mountain scared them off.
Six hours. Six hours of stairs and people and leg numbing pain. All worth it. The spectacular mountain vistas from the top showed us a part of China you rarely get to see.
Mists covered the valleys and ravines making the whole panoramic view look mysterious. The air was uncontaminated and even the people around me quieted down at the view. The break and the climb brought us to three o’clock in the afternoon, though. To make it back to our hostel meant we had to reach the base of the mountain before six when all of the buses and taxis left. That meant we had to scamper down as carefully as we could, especially on a few precarious bridges.
We were lucky again. Business was tapering off for the day and it was less hectic on the way down so we made better time. We arrived at 5:30, dusty and footsore in time for a cab. My legs were shaking and I was dreading day two of this adventure.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 20, 2012