Hiking to the clouds: wondrous Emei Shan

Having hiked a surprisingly large amount during my three months in China (considering the gym was ditched months ago, as were my hiking boots), I now view myself as quite the mountain connoisseur.

So it is with a somewhat authoritative tone that I can declare that though Mount Huangshan is the most beautiful, the Great Wall is the most awe-inspiring, Emei Shan wins the award for most diverse, magnificent and surreal.

Located 150km south of Chengdu and costing 185 RMB (unless you’re a student), Mount Emei is neither the most convenient nor best value mountain to hike. But the UNESCO world heritage site is 100% worth a visit – thanks to the vegetation, animals, spiritual significance and views from the summit.

A winding two hour bus journey took us from Baoguo Temple to Leidong Ping where, with the help of bamboo hiking poles and snacks in abundance, we started the ascent.

IMG_2920

We were lucky that being there in late November meant relatively few tourists, but even luckier that it was a relatively clear day – an unusual phenomenon in Sichuan.

As we hiked up, the scenery changed bizarrely quickly, becoming wintry, frosty and scarily slippery.

IMG_2939 IMG_2936

Though an undoubtedly strenuous hike with more unforgiving staircases than I could shake a (bamboo) stick at, the view two hours later was out of this world.

Or, more accurately, on top of the world.

IMG_2963 IMG_2984

The mountain itself is culturally significant as the place where Buddhism first became established on Chinese territory. This is marked at the summit by a multi-faced statue (pictured above) of Samantabhadra.

I had never been anywhere like it in my life – the clouds gave it a very surreal, peaceful feel and added immeasurably to the beauty.

IMG_3000 IMG_2989 IMG_2977

We spent a good hour walking in an excited daze around the stunning summit.

IMG_2996 IMG_2987

Eventually we roused ourselves and got a cable car down as, in the space of a few minutes, the weather had changed dramatically as an eerie fog rolled in.

IMG_3011 IMG_3013 IMG_3012

The quick changing weather was not the only thing to surprise us – we were also greeted by some extremely close-up monkeys on the descent. They had clearly lost their fear of humans due to over-feeding by tourists, their proximity was strangely aggressive but also great for photos ops!

IMG_3014 IMG_3023

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s