Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Sleeping in the frigid room was fine. Getting up was horrid, but we survived and headed downstairs for breakfast (a rice soup, puffy bread roll things, hard boiled eggs and other stuff [I have no idea, but good]).
More background. All R and I knew about this place was that the pics were nice and that hiking existed in the area. The tour lady (whose tour we didn't take) was not much help. Fortuanately we had new friends who were prepared. For those interested, we were in Siguniang (we're not sure if this was only the name of the surrounding mountains or also the town. In fact, we have no idea what town we were in. Yes, I was a Boy Scout and know the motto. But what's the fun in always being prepared?). BEAUTIFUL area. There are 4 main peaks, the 4Sisters. The tallest is over 20,000 feet and the other 3 are between17,500' and 18,500', and snow capped.
The owner of the hotel (reminded me and R of Johnny Depp.Tremendously. If Depp was a Tibetan/Nepalese looking cat.) had us at the trailhead at 730am (to get in before having to pay entry fees). Cool.
Backtracking again. We are hiking up a valley along a river. We have no idea the length or approx time. Or elevation. Or anything, really. How prepared were we, 2 veteran wilderness players? We each had a nalgene bottle of water (1 quart), some crackers and peanuts. No sunscreen or sun blocking hats (do you need those around 11,000' in all day sun?). We are S-M-R-T.
Off we set. The trail: wooden slatted trail the kind you see thru marshy areas in CO. Only this one went the distance. It was ice covered and banked and steep and it was a mockery of walking that occured in that Chinese forest. At least when 8 kajillion pictures weren't being taken. For those that don't know her, Rachelle is (in)famous for hiking very slowly and taking oodles of pics. These characters put her to shame (thank the buddha above for the dig age). SHE was complaining about how long they were taking! That amused me and I laughed (which earned me a flurry of punches).
3 hours into this hike the 4 Chinese in our group looked about done in. Me and R were rarin' to go. And on we ALL went. Since we didn't really know these guys, and their english wasn't the best and since we knew nothing about this hike or their hiking experience, we said nothing. Oops.
At 2:30pm (7 hours in) we got to an incredible high alpine meadow.Well worth the hike, but I was worried about getting out before dark(2 of the 4 collapsed at the very edge of the meadow), or even getting out at all. The plan, it seemed, was to take horses out (horse purveyors abounded all along this trail). Ok, fine with me, at least we won't die in the Chinese mountains (dying in the CO mountains makes so much more sense to me! Shipping costs would be much less).
After much haggling (and confused giggling by me and R), we mounted up. These horse are smaller than the ones I'm used to which caused problems I'll get to in a minute. I don't know if all these Chinese horses are like mine, but I am almost positive that this horse responded to Chinese vocal commands and had no rein control (much like the skies above CO. Seeding don't work!! Give it up! Mamma N is goingto do what SHE wants!). I held the reins out of habit but they did nothing. Instead this guy following behind me holding the reins for the girl behind me (at least he didn't clip my boys and lead my horse. By hand.) yelled out words every so often to guide my horse. Strange but more fun than your typical trail ride because the terrain was very steep and rocky and muddy and Caine-raising. Getting off the horses was amusing, in a way. I was first in (my horse had the bell so he/she was a born leader) and as soon as my feet ht the ground I knew I was in trouble. Pain coursed thru my knees and ankles and the muddy rocks almost tossed me to the ground. It was close. But shite it hurt! I was glad to see that everyone getting off seemed to be in as much pain as I was and they all stumbled around for a bit.
Long story much shortened, we made it out. Starved and dehydrated, but happy. All in all, it was an 11 hour day (the horses dropped us off with 1-1.5 hours of hiking left) (we guess we hiked about 11-12 miles).
For those interested-Rachelle totally won the hike! (I really did but let her think she did to make her happy. Good boyfriends do things like that, you know? It's the little things!)
I know this entry is lacking, but I'm tired. We had another 11-hour day yesterday and the return 9-hour bus ride today. I'm tired. But since we are getting back on a bus at 8am tomorrow for an 11-hour ride to another nature place (hera help me. if this ride is bumpy I may not survive!), I wanted to get a couple quick updates out. Once again, I am not sure when email will be around and I can pop my ugly littlehead up again.