I thought our uphill days were over in Nepal, but so our thighs continued the beating starting earlier this morning.
Our bus from Xi’an left at 7 am and parked below Hua Shan mountain at 9. From there you can take a gondola to the mountain’s center or just walk up yourself. We chose to walk because heck we’d just hiked 10 days straight, we were hiking kings and queens. Plus it saved us 10 bucks, so that hands down made a backpacker’s day.
Three things about today, aside from the panoramic pleasure, were notably incredible. First, the ascent was steep, if never-ending, and called for thrifty footwork. There were steps under feet to make the way more accessible, but there were still some incline angles that looked only a touch under 90 degrees.
Second, the “gaggles of geriatrics” (an alliteration by Greg) were surprising in their strong count on these imposingly vertical stairways. We young bucks, Greg and I, were trucking alongside wooden-caned grand folk who were forging the shared road with some crazy grace. Surely there is some secret recipe in Chinese tea that red bull or even cocaine would kill for.
I’ll preface the third incredible thing by noting that people, in the same way as plush toys, tea pots and knock-offs, come in the thousands in China. Today, there were that many tourists at the national park- a site the Chinese had transformed into a Disney World, where people were shoving their way to the next viewpoint as if it were Splash Mountain and as if Splash Mountain was plunging its last ride ever. Out of these pushy, nature-invasive thousands, not one had proper hiking attire. Greg and I in our exercise pants and matching Salomon hiking sneaks were the oddest balls we’d ever been heading up the mountain. Instead, these locals were in jean overalls, full-on business suits, dress shoes (even high heels) and of course those tacky, tacky visors (which I guess could be sport-wear, but only in very loose and unfashionable guidelines). I’ll repeat that some, most, inclines were so terrifying that even after just recently conquering the Himalayas, we were still frightened and thanking the good quality grip supporting our feet.
I so wish this was the last rapid incline of the trip, but the Great Wall in the next two weeks will surely change my mind…