Jul 19 2009

Dizzy in Deqin

Deqin (pron Durr Chin) is already at an altitude of 3350m I was staying in a mountain lodge higher up the road towards the Tibetan border (see next post). And so to the first Deqin Don’t. Don’t rush in. With the idea I would climb above the hostel to take in even more breathtaking views, the views took my breath and I had to take myself down again. With the little time available to me as this trip nears its end, I believed I could do more than I could and ended up feeling decidely dodgy. My best advice for this most awe inspiring of places is to plan a few days of nothing when you first get here, then once acclimatised the terrain is yours to discover. Nonetheless, despite my haste and paying the price, I was treated to some amazing sights in the hills above Deqin, the best of which was when the mighty Mei Li Xue Shan (6740m) revealed her sacred peak through the cloud. This mountain has never been climbed (in the last attempt in 1991, 17 Japanese mountaineers lost their lives). But enough, here are the pictures and there will be more because this place has to be visited again, it is awesome. (Dizzy above Deqin 18/19 July)

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Jul 17 2009

Some sunset

P1030894P1030904On the Insperation Terrace over dinner and a beer I meet Ben and Cara, they are on a massive four month trip and they are delightful. P1030893We talk and laugh and when we are not doing either of those the Jade Dragon Mountain teases us with rare glimpses of her peaks while the sun slowly sets. (Evening TLG 14 July)

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Jul 17 2009

Gorgeous hordes

P1030801 OK so Tiger Leaping Gorge is not the most edgy place on earth, but even minutes after setting off from the Naxi’s it was easy to see why this has become a backpackers’ right of passage. It is a stupendous sight – in almost every direction, nearly all the time. First opened up in c.1986 the trail is well defined with some steep sections, particularly as you climb on day one, as I did, up the 26 bends and over the ‘peak’ (2690m) here you are treated to spectacular views of the Jade Dragon mountain range across the gorge (you trek on the Haba mountain range side, the gorge is this amazingly narrow fault between the two). Through sections of forest and lush bamboo growth the sound of crickets fills your ears. Lower down there are small ‘swarms’ (what is the collective noun for butterflies?) of small purple butterflies. Higher up their black and white big brothers rule. At turns you can hear the pounding, gushing thunder of the mighty Yangtze below. There are, of course, lots of other people walking the trail – mostly westerners, but the space is enough that you don’t need to feel in a crowd and a short 5 minute break for water or a biscuit puts you back in your own space – surrounded by truly inspiring scenery. (Naxi to Halfway day one TLG 14 July)P1030811

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Jul 12 2009

It’s better on the edge

P1030625Whilst the crowds and souvenirs of Lijiang may be suffocating, it isn’t hard to find a breath of fresh air and some great views on a walk out of town – through the public park and out of the back gate – onwards and upwards right away from town. Random areas of the hill are quarried and dogs bark when you pass houses. An old woman is tending her vegetables by a stream. Back down the track in the outskirts of the new town is a reservoir, people were swimming. It is the best view from a free public swimming pool I have ever seen. I eat fried potato on a stick and head back to the hordes past meticulously clean cafes in scruffy roadside buildings. Planning is underway to avoid the classic bus to Tiger Leaping Gorge and trek there instead; around the back of the awesome Jade Dragon Mountain (above)(5596m) The Chinese say it’s 13 peaks hold up the sky. This little trip needs preparation and – ideally – maps… hmmmm. Fear not, later I am to meet Lily, she knows the moutains, she runs an Eco tourist bureau and she will be able to help. (Lijiang 10 July)P1030628

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