Oh The Pain

We are back from our three day hike up the sacred mountain. I don't think my body has ever felt quite the way it does right now. Every small step I take is an effort and its been like this since about half way down the mountain.
We decided confidently that we would take the "hard way" up the mountain: two days up one day down, over 60000 stairs. Yes you read that correctly.
Day one was a 9 hour hike, just over 24 km, you can calculate our average speed, not too fast. What made matters worse is that the only available map is totally off scale, so you have no idea how long you have to the next destination, we had a 3 hours climb straight up the side of the mountain, not ever a stair down! Despite the stairs we were still in good spirits because the scenery was absolutely enchanting. We are still at fairly low altitude, it is sutropical forest so lots of bamboo and big trees covered with moss and vines, waterfalls, and of course lots and lots of monkeys.
The monkeys are obviously used to having humans around, but worse, they are used to having humans feed them. The worse part is the "ecological monkey zone". This is the place where thousands of tourists are dumped off by bus only a few minutes walk away. Then they come and feed the monkeys and take lots of pictures of monkeys crawling all over them. We took photos but walked by quickly without feeding. I was very very not interested in having wild monkeys crawl on me. After passing this area, Yann and I were virtually alone for the rest of the day, we passed about 10 people, all on their way down, looking at us with great pity as we sweated up the stairs (I soaked through 3 layers of clothing including my underwear).
Now the scary monkey incidents are later on the trail where they sit on the trail in large groups and demand payment for crossing. You have to open you palms and show them you have no food, then they will let you walk by. Sometimes even that doesn't work, as I discovered when a large monkey ran after me and pulled at my pants until I wacked him (lightly) with my walking stick. By the way, where was Yann during this scary incident? He was laughing and trying to take a photo.
By the time we made it to Magic Peak Monastery we were happy to have anywhere to sleep, I was so tired I didn't even want to go down to the kitchen for dinner. The monastery was peaceful and quiet and we were among the very few guests staying there. However, it was very cold and damp, the blankets felt wet when we arrived. To make matters worse we were soaking wet with no change of clothes (from sweating). We slept in all our clothes in the same single bed with 4 duvets piled on top of us. We woke up at 5 a.m to the sound of monks chanting, I got up to watch them perform their morning ceremony, pretty amazing.
Day two was shorter, only 16km, but it was very tough, almost 7 hours. Mainly because it was cold,  we were at much higher altitude and we were of course tired from the previous day. I hit the wall at what it turns out was about 7 minutes from the peak. We checked in to a small hotel with heated electric blankets and lay there all afternoon and all night. 
The next morning we finished the walk to the top and admired the temples surrounded by mist. Then we started the 35km descent (from hell!). I can only describe it as 8 hours of torture! My legs were so sore that I actually was grateful when we hit some climbs upwards. I was taking each step down with both my feet, I thought my knees were going to give out and I would tumble down the mountain. Actually I was secretly hoping this would happen so that I could get down faster. Anyways, by late afternoon we were down the mountain and we hopped on a bus that dropped us off at the hotel where we ate large amounts of food and went to bed. Our legs are still recovering. Yann only admitted to me yesterday night that his legs were hurting. I should note that on arrival to Chengdu yesterday we did forego the taxi and walked with our big bags from the bus station for about an hour and a half to save the taxi fare. 
Today we visit Chengdu (the capital of Sichuan province). We are in a really nice guesthouse, an old Qing dynasty mansion. We will go visit the panda breeding centre while we are here. Photos should be up soon, I promise. Warning, lots of monkey photos. 

1 comment:

Super-Mario said...


nous attendons les photos. Le blog et les photos nous captivent beaucoup. Toutefois, il semble que Nicole recoit les photos avant nous.
J'ai fais un site pour les photos qui devrait expirer bientôt. Tu peux aller le voir ('ai un blog (super-mario) mais pas grand chose.
De l'autre coté du monde, nous vous suivons avec intérêt.

Je vous aime aussi!