Friday, January 31, 2014

Photos from Our Winter Mountain Trek to Huangshan, China

As it usually goes with me and my travels, it only takes a photo, a good one, to compel me to get my gears running. A year ago, I came across this post by Fiona Reilly of Life on Nanchang Lu, a travel and food blog I avidly follow. The first of her photos from a snowy Huangshan (Yellow Mountain), located in Anhui, China, did it for me. And then came another photo. And another. Wanderlust fully ignited, there was only one more thing to do: Go.

So it was really lucky that a month before the weekend leading up to my birthday, the same weekend I was planning to go to Huangshan National Park, I discovered some fellow Pinoy travel bloggers were headed there, too. Itineraries adjusted and I ended up tagging along with them. Great decision.

China: Lotus Peak, Huangshan, Anhui
Visitors on Turtle Peak look out towards Lotus Flower Peak. With an elevation of 1,873 meters above sea level, Lotus Flower Peak is the highest point in Huangshan National Park.

From Shanghai, I and my travel companions Ron, Agnes, Chyng, Dong, and Lauren headed west to Anhui province, took a cable car car ride, and began trekking on foot through snow and fog in Huangshan National Park. As most of us grew up in the tropics, the freezing cold proved to be a challenge. The confusing mountain trails and poor visibility certainly did not help. You can read about our unexpectedly difficult trek here: A Wintry, Snowy Mountain Trek to Huangshan, China.

Today though, let me present the photos I took the following couple of days, when weather was definitely better, as we walked around exploring Huangshan National Park.

China: Yungu Cable Car, Huangshan, Anhui
It got snowy and foggy towards the higher altitudes of Huangshan National Park. From the cable car station at the top, the two-hour trek to our hotel became the biggest challenge of the trip.

China: Huangshan, Anhui
After a difficult trek in the snow during our first day, and while still adjusting to the frigid cold the following morning, we managed to catch the sunrise. And I thought we had just walked into a Chinese painting.

Related Post: A Wintry, Snowy Mountain Trek to Huangshan, China

Huangshan, Anhui, China
If there is anything good about the snowy, foggy weather, it's that the next day, when the sun has risen, you wake up to a landscape covered in fresh white snow and mist. We did.

China: Huangshan, Anhui
One great thing about staying at Baiyun Hotel, we discovered, was its central location. There was easy access to many trails leading to scenic viewpoints. This one took us to the the higher areas of the Xihai Grand Canyon.

China: Huangshan, Anhui
The low-lying, snow-covered hills of Xihai Grand Canyon

Related Post: A Wintry, Snowy Mountain Trek to Huangshan, China

China: Huangshan, Anhui
The Xihai Grand Canyon is one area of Huangshan National Park I would have loved to explore more. The whole 8.5-kilometer circuit takes around four hours to complete.

China: Huangshan, Anhui
This winter trip to Huangshan National Park was really something special, if anything because for people like us who grew up in the tropics, snow-covered woods were a novelty, even something magical.

China: Huangshan, Anhui
From Baiyun Hotel, it was only a 20-minute climb up to Turtle Peak. Here, we could look out towards Bright Summit Peak (where we came from the previous night) and the weather station on top of it.

Related Post: A Wintry, Snowy Mountain Trek to Huangshan, China

China: Huangshan, Anhui
Looking south on top of Turtle Peak, you would see Lotus Flower Peak and its adjacent hills.

China: Huangshan, Anhui
Lotus Flower Peak is the highest point in Huangshan National Park. Squint hard enough and you might see the viewing deck at the craggy top. Move your eyes to the slope and you'll notice the impossibly steep stone staircases leading towards it.

China: Huangshan, Anhui
View from the trail below Turtle Peak towards Lotus Flower Peak. To get there, trekkers will have to descend several hundred meters down and climb several hundred meters up again. Brutal.

Related Post: A Wintry, Snowy Mountain Trek to Huangshan, China

China: Huangshan, Anhui
Winds picked up late in the afternoon that day. We braved the freezing cold, however, hiding behind a rock at times, in order to catch the sunset here in Huangshan National Park.

China: Huangshan, Anhui
And the sun finally sets through clear skies in Huangshan National Park. The 30-minute wait out here in the freezing cold was totally worth it.

China: Huangshan, Anhui
Sunset hues towards the Xihai Grand Canyon. Xihai means West Sea.

Related Post: A Wintry, Snowy Mountain Trek to Huangshan, China

China: Huangshan, Anuhi
Second morning on in Huangshan National Park meant it was time to head back down. So up towards Bright Summit Peak we climbed.

China: Huangshan, Anhui
Bright Summit Peak had a weather station which had a store below selling snacks and provisions. Best part was, they had the cheap hotdogs I lived off of the one month I was traveling in Yunnan, China.

Lotus and Turtle Peaks, Huangshan, Anhui, China
Panorama from Bright Summit Peak. Left to right: Lotus Flower Peak, Turtle Peak, and Xihai Grand Canyon. Click on the photo to see hi-res version.

Related Post: A Wintry, Snowy Mountain Trek to Huangshan, China

China: Huangshan, Anhui
It was easy to see how Huangshan National Park could have inspired the Hallelujah Mountains in James Cameron's 2009 film Avatar. It was a big plus, of course, that it was covered in snow during our visit.

China: Huangshan, Anhui
Huangshan National Park was beautiful and every freezing minute we spent up here was worth all the trouble. For now though, it's goodbye. Scratch that. Let's say, til we meet again.


Where did you go on your most enjoyable and rewarding winter trip?


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