Tiger Leaping Gorge : Climbing Dragon Leaping Tiger

Tiger Leaping Gorge Travel Blog

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Vanesha, Emmy & Nick prepare to take on the Gorge.

It’s a beautiful day in Stevie World once again.  He and his buddies Nick, Vanesha and Emmy are shuffled on to a mini-van bus and on route to the stimulatingly imaginative sounding ‘Tiger Leaping Gorge’.  Two hours drive north west of Lijiang.  How did the gorge get its curious name?  Well I don’t know either.  I ain’t travelling with a guide no more.  So here’s a new myth for the ‘Tiger Leaping Gorge’ penned by yours truly.  Another tale to tell :

New World Fables # 1 : ‘How the Tiger Earned His Stripes’

In the mountains of northern Yunnan the patient Yangtze has forged a gorge.

The bend in the Yangtze as you enter the Gorge.
  Many Millennia it has worn and wound its way through the rock and soil.  A silvery brown ribbon of water threading through the parted mountains and hills under the gaze of the sun.

In this gorge, amongst other creatures, lived a tiger and a crow.  The sun shone bright upon them.  Silver streaks upon the crow’s black feathered wings.  Burning gold upon the tiger’s striped orange coat.  The crow would spend her days flying high above the gorge.  The tiger his prowling and hunting upon the its northern slopes.  The Yangtze, wise and murmuring flowed between their homes.

The winter came.  And so the cold.  The crow began to feel the chill winds keenly as they whistled down the gorge.  To bring warmth for her home the crow decided she would attempt to line her nest with the stripes from the tiger’s back “for everyone knows” or so the crow supposed “that a tiger’s colours are made of fire and coal”.

Emmy & Vanesha have a toilet-paper malfunction :D
  Warmth to be found from the furry lines of the tiger’s cloak.  And so from then on, early every morning whilst the tiger still dozed, the crow would swoop and gently tease away a single stripe from the tiger’s precious patterning with her beak.

Every morning the tiger twitched and itched and turned and continued to sleep.  The crow lifted away his fiery black stripe tight between her beak to keep.

Every morning the crow descended and tugged and teased the tiger’s stripes away.  The tiger twitched and itched and eventually arose, another jet black mark gone astray.

One morning staring at his reflection in the waters of the Yangtze the tiger realised that something was amiss.  Something was missing.  Who was this strange, plain cat staring out of the waters at him?  Something’s wrong.

Stevie & the Gorge.
  His stripes, his beautiful black stripes were all but gone!  “But how and why and where did they go?”.  The Yangtze took pity and let the tiger know.

“Line by patterned line and row by blackened row you’ve lost your colours to the clutches of the crow.  She steals your stripes at break of dawn and takes them home to keep herself warm.” 

“What a scoundrel, what a foul and fiendish feathered pest!”.  The Yangtze calmed and soothed the angry tiger with her gently flowing waters.  The tiger stared at himself reflected.  Only those marks upon his face remained with a single black streak down his spine, the rest so plain.  The Yangtze explained that his anger was no good to him and that the only way to earn his stripes back was to cross the river and them reclaim.

First glimpse of the Yangtze coursing through the Gorge.

But tigers of course cannot swim.  Nor fly for that matter.  The Yangtze encouraged the tiger to be brave (as he once was when clothed in stripes) and to be strong and clever.  If he wished them back hard enough he could cross the gorge to get his stripes once more.  His only choice was to try to jump the waters of the Yangtze.

This though was a very long distance to jump, even for a strong, brave tiger.  He looked and looked.   If he jumped at the bottom of the gorge he would never span the river from such a low height.  If he jumped from the top he would have far too far to drop.  So he settled on a small rock jutting out from halfway up the cliff and midway along the gorge.  The crow watched the tiger’s wanderings from on high and wondered what he was up to from her position in the sky.

Craggy mountain gorge.

“You must be brave Tiger.  And willing to pursue that which is most dear and precious to you with great courage and at any cost.  Without your stripes no one will recognise you as the fierce and bold tiger that you are.  A mere pussycat they will see.  Sometimes one must take great risks, call it a leap of faith if you will, to regain that which is most essential to their happiness.” 

These were the Yangtze’s words on the bright and breezy morning that the Tiger prepared for his pounce across the gorge.  Her waters flowed onwards and through the gorge as they always had and always would.  The crow preened her feathers from the fur-lined warmth of her tiger-lined abode.

The tiger sat upon the outcrop of rock upon his muscular haunches.

The gang forge through the Gorge.
  Staring from the rock from which he was to jump.  His bright orange coat blazed like fire in the late morning sun.  His blinding white belly and the solitary remaining black streak, like a scar, burnt the length of his spine.

He padded to the ravine edge.  He padded back and forth.  He looked up at the crow in her state of comfy warmth.  He stared down at the Yangtze far below.  It’s rhythms, swirls and undulations seemed to spur him on.  He turned.  Padded back to the cliff wall and turned again to face the gorge.  “A tiger with no stripes is like to being no tiger at all!” he reminded himself. 

And so with all his remaining courage - all that which had not be stripped by the crow - and with all his tiger might he bounded forward… he ran and ran… and with all his feline strength he leapt… his orange coat blazing in the sun… the wind coursing through his fur… the Yangtze far below.

[ The End ]

Following that I won’t take much more of your time and let the photographs speak most of the grand beauty of Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Nick, the gals and I did a 2 day trek having lunch at the Naxi Family Guest House after 2 hours trekking and staying at the Half Way Guest House over night. 

The scenery is really incredible all the way.  Especially on day one of your trek as you wend your way up the slightly steep and challenging ‘28 Bends’ part of the gorge path.  The play of sun upon both the softer, more earthy browns, greens and golds of the lower slopes and hill-flanks as well as the craggy, brooding looking snow-dusted peaks of the great mountains that claw the skies from their ancient seats on the south bank of this stretch of the Yangtze.

Nick stands over the precipce.

Many a man and his horse will hope to acquire your business to be carried up the gorge path on one of their trusty steeds and it does not matter what you say, motion or do, they will follow you ALL day long with their irritatingly tinkling bells a constant incursion on your peaceable appreciation of the beauty all around.  Whilst one of our group V, struggled slightly with the stiff, altitudinous ascent of the ‘28 Bends’ she toughed it out, brave lass that she is, and no nag was required for our crew.

After a hard(ish) days trekking.  Slow and taking in the views.  Dusk is setting in as me and the gang finally arrive at Half Way Guest House.  We gladly crack open celebratory beers on the fabulous terrace viewing platform they have here and relax with food and laughter into the night.

Early morning clouds and sun beams.
  After dark Nick and lie on benches upon our backs, letting our eyes adjust to the beautiful composition of glittering stars that flash their aged lights down into the gorge.  Clear and bright a moonless night.  We both exclaim as a large streak of shooting star cuts, perfectly on cue, across our field of vision.  Retiring to comfy beds, sleep is ruined for one an all by ‘the ghost’ that creaks and bangs the dorm door all night long.  Nothing to be done to jam it rigid shut for more than 5 minutes.

In the morning good coffee on the viewing platform.  Bright morning rays of sunlight burst up from behind the mountain line bathing the gorge and our view in streaks of hazy, shades of blue beams.  The toilets here have open view ‘windows’ and provide both the most surreal and beautiful toilet experience of my life to date.

  Believe me, these squat-holes deserve a mention!

And then there is walking and talking and walking some more.  Not long today and our trek is done.  A couple of bus rides and a mid-afternoon doze later find us in so called ‘Shangri-La’ by evening but that’s a story for tomorrow I guess.

[ Tiger Info :  There is a 50RMB ($7) entrance fee.  If you intend to carry on direct from the gorge further north to Shangri-La then take all your luggage with you but just store your big stuff at Jane’s Guest House for 5RMB ( $0.60) to collect on your way back through.  Transport back from Tina’s Guest House to the gorge entrance after your second morning trek costs between 15-20RMB ($2-3) a head.  Back at Jane’s, onwards transport to Shangri-La can be arranged on the spot for approx 30RMB a head ($4.

The Gang and the Waterfall.
50).  Nice dorm bed at Half Way Guest House is 20RMB ($3) and they have good food and amazing views of the gorge and mountains. ]

delsol67 says:
Whenever I check in to see what you're up to...I'm always amazed...and a little jealous. I have to get busy traveling..LOL I'm glad you're having a great journey! Brian
Posted on: May 06, 2009
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Vanesha, Emmy & Nick prepare to ta…
Vanesha, Emmy & Nick prepare to t…
The bend in the Yangtze as you ent…
The bend in the Yangtze as you en…
Emmy & Vanesha have a toilet-paper…
Emmy & Vanesha have a toilet-pape…
Stevie & the Gorge.
Stevie & the Gorge.
First glimpse of the Yangtze cours…
First glimpse of the Yangtze cour…
Craggy mountain gorge.
Craggy mountain gorge.
The gang forge through the Gorge.
The gang forge through the Gorge.
Nick stands over the precipce.
Nick stands over the precipce.
Early morning clouds and sun beams.
Early morning clouds and sun beams.
The Gang and the Waterfall.
The Gang and the Waterfall.
Stevie, V & Emmy statr the climb. …
Stevie, V & Emmy statr the climb.…
Ginger on Grey :)  [photo kindly p…
Ginger on Grey :) [photo kindly …
A little Dragon caught snapping in…
A little Dragon caught snapping i…
Emmy & Nick soldier on.
Emmy & Nick soldier on.
The Yangtze threads through the Go…
The Yangtze threads through the G…
Nick takes a break.
Nick takes a break.
Lunch at the Naxi Family Guest Hou…
Lunch at the Naxi Family Guest Ho…
Stevie and the super-sized menu :)
Stevie and the super-sized menu :)
Emmy gives Vanesha a head massage …
Emmy gives Vanesha a head massage…
End of Day One beers on the tarrac…
End of Day One beers on the tarra…
Dawn rays.
Dawn rays.
Nick chillin in da mornin :)
Nick chillin' in da mornin' :)
Just a glimpse of the fantastic vi…
Just a glimpse of the fantastic v…
Nick and Vanesha
Nick and Vanesha
One of the many super-weird, super…
One of the many super-weird, supe…
(Tiger Leaping) Muju [www.mujuworl…
(Tiger Leaping) Muju [www.mujuwor…
Tiger Leaping Gorge
photo by: Stevie_Wes