Wednesday, September 02, 2015



As it is, this rainy season, it's already not-so-high tourist season compared to April/May/June and September/October. But it is the domestic school holidays in this month, so people are still traveling. The crowds in Lijiang are too frazzling. Can't deal with them. I miss the quiet of Zhongdian. Decided to hit the trails where there aren't many humans out and about. Went up the back hills of Shuhe (束河). The thing is, these trails are literally in someone's backyard. City folks won't have that luxury of 'just heading out for a walk'. I'm seizing every moment to get out amongst nature. A two-hour walk is short. Three hours would be just nice.

These trails have almost zero animal poop on them. Didn't see many animals either. Birds, yes. These trails are too close to the Old Towns. It's either too frequently used by humans or too much construction going on. When we were up there, lots of tractor marks all across digging sides out of the mountains to build dunno-what. We're lucky to see this now. Years later, they'll probably build more resorts up here.

Saw many graves and paused to read the headstones. These were Han Chinese graves and not done in the ornate way that Southeast Asian Chinese do. (Think our Bukit Brown Cemetery) It was bright and sunny when we climbed up. An hour in, it began raining. But as the way mountains are, the rain stops after twenty minutes or so. Then the trails are safe to walk again. Of course the slight danger is in slipping on the mud and loose stones. Clearly, before this trip, we've sorted out insurance and the sorts.

Didn't take that many photos of humans. Each one of myself is in an unglamorous squat on some rock. Grrrrr. My friends lah! Dunno why they keep catching me in those moments.

Wandered up to a rocky area with red ribbons tied around the tree branches. Assumed it meant 'ascent'. But OOPS. Too late. It might have meant 'danger'. We walked straight onto a narrow ledge where it's tough to put two feet side by side. Precipice. Death down left. Bloody hell. Like that trip at Mount Hua (华山,华阴市,西安).  At least we were prepared then.

This time, we had only four carabiners, no quickdraws and no climbing ropes. Because we thought this was going to be an EASY WALK. Hugged the stones as we navigated the bends. No one could circle past those unless you've lived in these mountains all your life, or if you're a goat. Treaded gingerly, then gave up. Had to backtrack to seek out a more stable route. Some muddy paths led to dead ends. Basket. Did I mention I have this fear of heights that I keep trying conquer?

That was suitably scary. Plus the rain started again and didn't abate. The intensity increased till we had to pull out raincovers for the backpacks. Found the paths we took and re-traced it downhill. It was 4.30pm. Didn't want to be caught searching for paths by sundown. These hills weren't our familiar backyard. We had supplies and food but those weren't enough preparedness. With no climbing equipment on a trail like this, it was time to head back. 

No comments: