Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hiking Wuliaojian

(Post by Alisha)
Whenever a hike comes with prerequisites, you know it's going to be an interesting experience. Some information we found on Wuliaojian warned that attempting hikers should be in good physical condition, wear gloves, and, above all, avoid the trek on a windy or rainy day. While we weren't quite sure we fit a hiker's definition of "peak climbing condition," we were excited to challenge ourselves and try a hike that was actually located in the backyard of our own Sanxia.

The hike started off steep and narrow, and, a few minutes in, we discovered the reason for the gloves. The trail is covered with knotted ropes that you need to use to pull yourself up over rocky walls and steep terrain. It was definitely a workout literally climbing up and up through this tropical, bamboo-lush mountain. Most of the trails we've hiked thus far have clearly marked signs, paths, or even steps, but this was one that was definitely off the map. Thanks to flags and markers left by other hikers, however, we never got lost.

After a little over three hours, the trail started to level out as we approached the ridge. This was the highlight of our trip: we were on the exposed spine of the mountain. The ridge was extremely skinny, from the vertigo-inducing few inches of width to the relative safety of one to two feet . On both sides of the spine was a pretty sheer drop, and there was only a simple rope path on our right for us to hold on to as we made our way across. After taking in some gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains, we found out that the only way to get back was by repelling down a steep cliff wall. It didn't seem so bad to me at first, but I soon found out that going backwards when you're almost vertical with the mountain (with no harnesses or safety equipment,) is a little bit more difficult. It felt like forever (even though it probably only took about 5 minutes) and my arms were sore afterwards, but it was such a cool experience. After that, we had an easier hike back down and were back on level ground in about an hour. This one goes down as my favorite climb by far.


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