The Huangshan Hiker


Maria Niechwiadowicz

8/18/2015

n July I set out with a backpack, my sights set on Huangshan! Huangshan City is located within Anhui province in southeastern China. Located outside of the city is Mt. Huang or Yellow Mountain, for which the city is named. Mt. Huang is reputed to be the most beautiful and most visited mountain in China. But besides Mt. Huang there are other wonderful mountains and trails to explore! I spent almost a full week in the misty and green area of Huangshan, exploring 3 different mountain trails.

QiYun Shan is a small mountain on the edge of the city. The name literally means “as high as the clouds,” rising 585 m/1919ft, and is one of the four sacred Tao mountains. It is about an hour climb up the stairs before reaching the ticket office and the main trails. I spent the day hiking just the main trails, but there are some unpaved trails further into the mountains that would have been great to explore had I known!

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“Mysterious Long Corridor”

Hui Hang Gui Dao used to be a business route linking the cities of Huizhou and Hangzhou, built in the Tang Dynasty. I suppose you could call it the Silk Road of the area. The best preserved section of the trail is in Jixi, located about 65km north of Huangshan. Getting to and hiking this trail would not have been possible without my local friend, Angela. It was a quite an adventure! We started by train (30 mins), then took a bus from Jixi into the countryside (30 mins) in which the bus driver dropped us off in the middle of nowhere. Then we walked about 20 minutes to find the entrance of the trial, asking for directions along the way! The trail itself was gorgeous and we had the trails to ourself pretty much the entire day. As we climbed into the mountain (up hundreds of stairs of course), small waterfalls trickled down the side of the mountain, green plumage sprung up amidst the rock, and a mysterious fog hung in the air. We ended up walking the entire trail, there and back, over the course of the day. A beautiful 20 mile/32km hike, with a refreshing downpour of rain as we descended!

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Finding the trailhead

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Foggy top of the trail, LiNanAo

Having hiked two lovely mountain trails, I can’t say that I was super excited to spend a load of money on the ticket to Mt. Huang and then fight Chinese tourists all day for the trails. But I couldn’t pass up Mt. Huang or the fact that the weather was supposed to be top notch. The Lord did not disappoint! Mt. Huang was incredible! I decided to save my energy for the trails by taking the cable car up the mountain. Then I booked my way through the initial trails, overcrowded with tourists, to drop my things off at a hostel and explore the less traveled, west trails. What a great plan! I descended down the West Canyon for about 2 hours before the path began to rise and when the stairs started they didn’t stop for 3 hours! It was a hike, and it was difficult, but the views at the top of the trail were well worth the effort!

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I was also able to catch both the sunset that night, and the sunrise the next morning, both of which were incredibly peaceful and spiritual moments. There is a reason why so many culture revere mountains as sacred places!

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Sunset 18:43

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Sunrise 4:31

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Sunrise 5:17

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Sunrise 5:35

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Sunrise 5:58

Visiting Huangshan was a perfect way to relax after the spring teaching semester, be in the midst of God’s creation, and begin my summer journey through China.

For all you hikers out there, these are my few words of advice:

  • Most trails in China begin with a set of stairs to the ticket office. Then the real climbing begins! If you are not up for the challenge, take the cable car.
  • When you think that the stairs will end at the next landing, think again! Rather than focus on the end of the stairs, focus on the climb itself. A good lesson to stay in the moment!
  • Stair step at your own pace.
  • Going down is just as hard as going up, if not harder! Watch out for uneven steps and slippery spots while stretching those calves.
  • Hike with a local! There is no way I would have found the HuiHang trail alone without a guide. If you can’t find a local to hike with you, then seek local advice if you can.
  • Don’t plan around the weather. The Huangshan area is wet and humid in the summertime. If I had planned my hike around what the weather channel predicted, I would have never hiked! Instead plan for rain, wear layers, and hope for the best!
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Endless stairs

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#hikingvictory

The question is…where to hike next?



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