Trekking in the Wilderness

Tiger Leaping Gorge Travel Blog

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What do you do when you have a bad cold that you can’t shake?

A. Bed rest
B. Keep up your fluids
C. Walk the mammoth Tiger Leaping Gorge

If you answered A or B, you are sensible and no doubt you recover quickly if you do get sick. If you answered C, well then you might like to continue reading to see what happens to the body when you embark on something so crazy as Tiger Leaping Gorge and add to this a cold, which had developed from a sniffle from Yangshuo.

Arriving into the Gorge on Sunday 13 June meant a long and treacherous drive through the countryside, which included driving past several accidents and roadside fatalities; not pleasant images to be confronted with before embarking on a trek. One way that I counteracted these images was by taking motion sickness tablets and sleeping. Possibly not the wisest decision I could have made - the taking of the tablets that is, as these affected me quite severely.

Normally the walk up (very steep uphill) to the first guesthouse, Naxi Guesthouse, takes 2 hours, but as I was stumbling over my feet and seeing double meant that it took us a little longer. I was not feeling the best on that walk and ended up feeling a ‘little ill’ and stressed. This feeling was exaggerated as a mule and his minder were following me.

Mules are beasts of burdens who plod up these mountains carrying supplies and travellers who have lost the will to climb. I was in denial and I kept telling the mule man that I did not and would not need his services. I kept saying a firm ‘No’ to him even after I was obviously tripping over my feet, delirious and had so much sweat pouring off my limbs that I was almost swimming in a puddle. (Now isn’t that a pleasant mental image for all of you). In the end the mule man had obviously heard feeble protests like mine before and kept biding his time. Gently walking beside his animal, a few paces behind me - just far away back to give me room, but close enough to let me know that he was there to take the load off.

In the end the walking became too difficult because for every three or four paces I was walking, I would have to sit down and rest. The cold from Yangshuo had taken a firm hold and it wasn’t letting me go. I caved. It had become too much for me. The hill was too mountainous to climb and too soul destroying for me to continue attempting. I relented and ended up taking the mule to the Guesthouse and collapsed on arrival.

The following day I was at a lost of what to do. Do I attempt the rest of the Tiger Leaping Gorge taking the high road and the infamous 28 bends or do I take the low road. It was a hard decision to make, but after having over 12 hours sleep the night previously and then climbing the stairs down to breakfast, feeling waves of nausea and dizziness overcome me, it wasn’t a difficult decision to make. I was to walk the low road. Thankfully Janet decided to walk with me on this ‘road’.

I use the term ‘road’ loosely because that it indeed all that it was, a loose metal road for 15 kilometres and a lot of roadworks all along the way. At times the road was not cleared so we had to climb with our hands and feet over the rocks and debris, grabbling to get across the mountains of boulders which stood in our way. We whiled away the hours with conversation and singing - nothing like show tunes to make you feel alive.

What surprised me the most about this area of China was how familiar it felt. The river way down below and the huge towering mountains reminded me of visits to Snowdonia National Park in Wales. The tranquility of the place struck me; the sounds of the roadworks gave way to gushing waterfalls, soaring swallows and the poofing of the soft sand and rocks under our feet. My body may have let me down from doing the Tiger Leaping Gorge Trek properly (this time), but the beauty of the place was still impressive no matter which part you walked.

Like I said, this time I was unable to complete the high trek like I wanted, but I will be back. Not just to complete the high trek, but to continue singing. I have a lot more show tunes still to sing, and I really do what to make the “Hills come alive with the sound of music….”
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Tiger Leaping Gorge
photo by: Stevie_Wes