Hiking in remote Chinese mountains

Hiking in remote Chinese mountains

Wanderlust

This weekend I was invited by a colleague to join him on a hiking trip. I didn’t  really know what I was getting into, he let me choose the trip based on pictures on some Chinese website. I did, and we ended up on a bus to I still don’t know what it is called exactly. There is no English translation or anything remotely helpful on Google. It was a mountainous area somewhere around a six hour bus ride from Shanghai, the closet summit with a name is called Kuocang Shanmai. I was the only 老外 [lǎowài] in the group and only few others spoke English.

We started our trip in Shanghai at 7 in the morning and were ready to hike around noon. In the worst heat of the day. I didn’t bring much equipment, and I was lucky to have enough room for loads of water. Since the airfreight hasn’t arrived yet, I didn’t have much to chose from anyway, and ended up wearing running shoes and shorts.

Some Germans I met in Shanghai the night before told me that I’d be alright. The Chinese tend to make every mountain peak very accessible. “There will be stairs”, they told me. Well, there weren’t. Our hike lead us through very green and beautiful paths, every once in a while super steep and rocky, with magnificent view points along the way. Everything you can wish for on a hike. If it weren’t for the heat, mosquitoes, ticks and leeches. Lucky me, wearing t-shirt and shorts.

We had three guides, two came with us from Shanghai and one was a local leading us along this hardly used way. While everyone else had very professional equipment, our local guide was wearing loafers, dress pants and a shirt. To complement this timeless style, he had a machete. Our group soon split into two, some ahead with the local guide, and the two others behind with rest of the group. The challenge was to see the sunset on the mountain top. We managed it just in time and had a great view.

The short night on the mountain top

We spent the night in a farm house, where the family prepared an amazing dinner and breakfast. Everything was locally grown and super fresh and since everyone was from Shanghai, not something they get everyday. They were just as excited as me. My favorite was a sour chicken soup, with the whole (whole!) chicken and lots of ginger.

Away from all the light pollution and with a clear sky, we saw a lot of stars that night. Everyone was up to do a little star gazing. The next morning we got up at 4 to see the sunrise. We still had a few more kilometers to walk to the east ridge of the mountain and that’s where I saw what was meant by “very accessible”. We were one of the few groups who walked the whole way, everyone else was there with a car. There were stores and something you could probably call a food truck. I managed to take some great shots of the sunrise in combination with the wind turbines that were all over the ridge.

When I got back the meeting point, I was under the impression we would hike a few more hours. I still don’t know whether this was the plan all along or it was changed last minute: Instead we drove to Linhai. They called it a village, but later I found out, there were more than a million people living there. Linhai has a very historical inner city. It was very interesting to be there since it is not very touristy and people still live in the old houses. We saw temples, a historic city wall and I had my first tea ceremony!

We are now back on our way to Shanghai, I am very happy we ended up on a great lonely trail. I hope we will not get stuck in traffic, because it really looks like everyone is fleeing Shanghai over the weekend.

One Reply to “Hiking in remote Chinese mountains”

  1. Hi Thorben, this is an amazing piece of story about living in China! Lucky you are to find contact to people who take you out to China’s great nature an landscape outside the big city. I am eager to here some more stories like this.

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