Hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge

11 October 2009
Lijiang => Qiaotou => Tiger Leaping Gorge (Tea Horse Guesthouse)

Our first day on the trail of Tiger Leaping Gorge. We headed out a day
later than planned due to my stomach bug. We left Lijiang at 8am on
Tina's Guesthouse Bus (30Y … more expensive than the 16Y normal bus
but certainly more convenient). Three hours later we were dropped off
right at the start of the trail, which meant we didn't have to spend
time wandering the streets of Qiaotou. Guys with mules were there to
meet us and ask for our business. They, of course, followed us up the
trail speaking in complex Mandarin. From what we could gather, they
were highly concerned about us westerners with backpacking packs
making it up the mountain. They kept warning us about the steepness
and that they should at least take our bags up the trail. We were
followed by a guy on a mule for our entire walk up to the Naxi
Guesthouse (1 hour 40 minutes) where we stopped for lunch. At first it
was a little annoying to have him follow us but we figured it would be
good insurance in case we fell and broke a leg on the trail.

We were exhausted by the time we got to Naxi Guesthouse. We had
breakfast at 7 am and we had started hiking at about 11am with the
intense sun crushing us. I hadn't had very much to eat yesterday or
this morning either as my stomach had been funny.

At Naxi Guesthouse we had a nice meal of fried chicken and peanuts,
rice, and a vitamin drink for the surprisingly low price of 22Y. The
vitamin drink tasted like bubble gum and was pretty much sugar syrup
with a bit of water. I kept pouring water in it to dilute it; however,
the sugar gave us much needed energy to tackle the hardest part of the
trail. With our bellies full and in much better spirits, we headed out
to 28 bends. Again we were followed by the same guy on the donkey. He
tried a few more times to get our business but eventually left us just
before 28 bends. We ascended taking our time and managed to make it to
the top in 1 hour and 40 minutes. We were pretty proud of ourselves.
The majestic Haba Snow Mountain stared down at us and the upper
reaches of the Yangtze River were below us continuously carving the
gorge. The views from the trail were gorgeous and totally worth the

An hour and a half later found us at Tea Horse Guesthouse where we
decided to call it a day. We hiked in the last bit with an
Australian-German couple and their mom. The guesthouse has a beautiful
view of Haba Snow Mountain and we spent the rest of the afternoon
resting, drinking a Dali beer, and gazing out at the gorge. Over
dinner we chatted with two Californian girls who were doing their
quarter abroad in Hong Kong. We had chicken with peanuts and fried
noodles with veggies. The girls had crepes and apple pie for dessert,
which we had a nibble out of and was actually pretty decent for a
Chinese attempt at western food. Tomorrow will be an early start as we
try to make the 5 hour hike to Walnut Grove.

- Julia