Today we caught the bus from Xian to Huashan (aka Mount Hua). After an few hours we were dropped off near to the base of Huashan. After picking up some additional supplies we proceeded to walk towards the mountain.
At the foot of Huashan is a Daoist temple. If not for the few direction signs scattered around the temple, you’d think that you’d travel back in time. Everything here looked like it was taken out of a Chinese period piece. Wandering though the temple I couldn’t help but feel as though we were trespassing.
Just shortly beyond the temple we went past the usual assortment of beggars and trinket vendors. However what caught my eye was an old man Playing the Erhu and a younger man just squatting in front of him listening and watching.
The path up towards Huashan looked pretty easy at the start, however this will soon change as we climb up the mountain.
The clean air and scenery was a wonderful change from the the smog and dust of Beijing city.
The inaccessibility of this part of Huashan ment that the rubbish had to be taken down by hand. It was amazing how much a person can carry just on one pole.
All along the mountain were wall carvings. Some of which were place names, others poems, mantras or sayings.
Admittedly, it was an odd sight to see a satellite dish on the mountain. Having said that however, some little part of me expected to see this.
All along the path we came across many rest stops with vendors all selling pretty much the same thing. But at the sky turned dark, and the air turned cooler, there was still no sign of a place where we could spend the night. But we soldiered on.
At one of the rest stops we encountered a few locals whom I managed to converse with despite limited command of Chinese. They were surprised to find out that I was not local and that we were doing this climb “for fun”. “No one climbs Huashan for fun”, they said. From that point on, the stairs appeared to get steeper and shallower. It gets to a point where to climb up, you have pull yourself up by chains.
Eventually, after over 5 and a half hours of hiking, we finally found the first guest house on the path. It was a quaint little house, with a very traditional room (bar the television and electric light). There was no running water here. Water is carried up each morning by monks from the monastry at the base of the moutain.
In the morning we woke up and continued our journey with a renewed vigour.
Within an hour of grueling stair climbing we cleared the worst of the stairs and ended up at the north peak of Huashan, over 1600m above sea level.
The peak was nothing like the quiet and serene (if not ardous) path. A cable car brings tourists from the base of the mountain up to the north peak. From there, they walk to the other peaks.
During our climb, we noticed a fair number of locks and red sashes attached to the chain. I later found out that these locks serve to bring luck and protection over the household of whoever put it there. The red sashes also seem to serve the same function.
The locks have an inscription on them. I’m unsure what it says since I can’t read Chinese, but I guess I can assume it’s something to bring luck, protection and good fortune (generic Chinese well wishes I suppose).
In the end, we decided to add a lock of our own to the already crowded chain. Facing the east, there now is a lock inscribed with “We are the champions”.