Following our Yangtze cruise we were looking
forward to visiting the famed Yellow Mountain. Mt. Huangshan (Yellow Mountain)
is part of a mountain range in southern Anhui province in eastern
China. There's an old saying in China, "Once you've been to Yellow Mountain,
you won't consider other mountains as mountain."
The area is well known for its scenery, sunsets, peculiarly-shaped
granite peaks, Huangshan pine trees, hot springs and waterfalls, and views
of the clouds from above. Huangshan is a frequent subject of traditional
Chinese paintings and literature, as well as in modern photography. It
is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of China's major tourist destinations.
Vegetation on the range is thickest below 1,100 meters, with trees growing
up to the treeline at 1,800 meters.
Our journey time to Huangshan was shortened by our
travel on one of the incredible Chinese bullet trains. China is crisscrossed
with these elevated rail lines and features more of these electric-powered
fast trains than all those in the rest of the world combined. The rest
of our trip was on private tour busses and even though we made good time
on the freeway systems they couldn't match the +300 km/hr speeds of the
bullet trains. The other stops to and from Huangshan we describe elsewhere
in our China Adventure series.
Our bus to the foot of Mt. Huangshan took us along
a divided highway past many mountain villages and through a series of long
tunnels to Tangkouzhen. At this "base camp" type city we bought walking
sticks and entrance tickets and boarded a shuttle bus that took us up to
the cable car parking area. From here we had a fairly long hike to
the cable car boarding area.
The ride on the cable car was a long exciting one that
offered terrific views of the mountain scenery -- granite peaks and valleys,
unusual granite outcrops and formations, and bonsai-like pine trees growing
out of solid rock faces. Mt Huangshan is not just one peak, but an enormous
complex of about 70 famous peaks. Our travel companions on this trip were
Sue-On's brother Kenny and his wife Rebecca. They have spent many years
travelling to the four corners of the world, but a visit to this legendary
Huangshan Mountain had always been on their bucket list. They weren't disappointed.
The cable gondola took us to a terminus half-way up
one of the main peaks. From there we started our long trek along thousands
of concrete and stone steps mostly built into the rock face of the mountainside
and many of them carved out of solid rock centuries ago. Walking and climbing
the many paths on the Huangshan slopes was a truly memorable experience.
There are an incredible variety of rock formations in the valleys and on
the granite outcrops. There were a number of vantage "platforms" which
provided rest spots and great vantage points to view the amazing
rock formations. Chinese have intriguing names for many of the usual rock
formations and if we had more time in our visit it would have been fascinating
to learn the names associated with them. A number of visitors with drones
have videoed some excellent aerial views of the mountains. The links to
some of these videos on Youtube we've included on this page.
The rugged climb isn't recommended for those not physically
fit and it was suggested that we bring bottled water, treking shoes, jackets
and a walking stick. All four of our Hillman/Choy group are seniors --
69 to 79 years -- but we all managed the climb quite well and certainly
enjoyed the experience. Sue-On and I braved the elements by wearing only
light clothes. I believe I was the only one on the mountain wearing shorts
and many of the Chinese groups we passed broke into applause in appreciation
of an old septuagenarian white codger tackling the rugged and sometimes
frigid Huangshan summit in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.
Folks who have a difficult time hiking around the mountain
trails can hire a sedan chair to be carried around the top of the mountain.
The sedan is balanced between poles carried by two coolies and is similar
to the ones that Sue-On and I were carried on during a Yangtse River Cruise
Ku-li, or coolies, supply the hotels and souvenir shops
with food, bottled beer and water, oil, gas, baggage, bedding, souvenirs,
etc. These wiry porters carry their heavy +100 kg loads up the mountain
balanced on bamboo poles across their shoulders. The trip up takes 3 to
5 hours and they make only a few dollars per trip. We were told that they
make less than a dollar per km. Many weren't happy having their photos
taken and all became quite frustrated by baffled and/or lazy tourists not
moving out of their way as they struggled up and down the often narrow
steps. It was quite common to hear them shouting ahead for people to clear
the way. During a rest stop one of the porters let me try to lift one side
of his load -- a bundled stack of beer cases. It was so heavy I had trouble
lifting it. . . and this was just one side of his load.
We stopped for a meal at one of the mountaintop hotels
which provided an excellent panoramic view of the peaks and valleys below.
We appreciated the meal even more when we realized that all the restaurant
supplies had to be toted up by the hard-working coolies.
We took a shorter route from the hotel back to the
cable car station. This alternate shortcut involved much more effort since
the trails and stairs were steeper. Sitting in the gondola offered a bit
of breather time before our long trek back to the shuttle bus. Along the
way our photo taking was relentless and it's taken a number of weeks to
prepare the photographs from our three cameras for presentation in this
Web series. We returned to Huangshan city late in the afternoon which gave
us time to explore more attractions in that area. But those descriptions
we'll cover in a separate Adventure.
Photos for this Yellow Mountain Adventure were by
Bill and Sue-On Hillman
Kenny and Rebecca Choy
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