Tiger Leaping Gorge (Tea Horse Guesthouse to Tina's Guesthouse)

13-14 October 2009
Tiger Leaping Gorge (Tea Horse Guesthouse to Tina's Guesthouse)

We got started before light threaded its way into the upper reaches of
the gorge after a nice breakfast of apple/banana pancakes and tea. It
was fairly chilly but we hiked in shorts and shirt as we knew the heat
of the sun would soon set in. As we hiked up and down the terrain, the
rays of the sun slowly crept over the mountain tops affording us a
beautiful backdrop. We made it to the Halfway Guesthouse in 1.5 hours.
Along the way we must have stepped through a time portal. We had seen
nobody on the trail in front or behind us and we got there 10 minutes
ahead of the Californian girls that left 20 minutes before us. The
Halfway Guesthouse looked to have fairly nice rooms and their dining
room overlooked the gorge. Even the toilets had spectacular views! I
had the best hot chocolate and Scotty had a tea for the price of 7Y
($1 US) total. We mulled over the wonderful views and the our
paradoxical arrival with the girls. They stayed to have breakfast and
we moved on to Tina's Guesthouse. The trail continued past two
spectacular waterfalls – one was very silty and the other quite clear.
The village near the silty waterfall had developed a way to filter out
the silt. They passed the water over a huge table that had a screen
allowing for removal of heavy particulates and the cleared water was
then pumped to the village. At the larger, clearer water fall, the
villagers had attempted to pipe the water from the falls down the
mountain. However, at each joint the pressure of the water had blasted
through and all that was holding it together were some cloth wrappings
and a few heavy stones. This resulted in manmade water spouts and a
few rainbows. The descent down to Tina's was brutal, with a 45 minute
scramble down loose dirt and rocks. The trip from Tea Horse to Tina's
took approximately 2 hours 20 minutes, which took its toll on Scotty's
knee. After a quick lunch and meeting up with several backpacker's we
had met along the way, we headed to Walnut Grove. The noon sun was
extreme and we took the low road to Walnut Grove to save Scotty's
knee, which lasted all but 20 minutes. From Walnut Grove to the ferry
to Daju, it would be 4 hours of road. At this point we decided to call
it quits. We could see the end of the gorge from Walnut Grove and the
terrain seemed the same as the upper gorge. It would have been awesome
to have made the descent down to the river and then follow it
downstream to Walnut Grove, but it was impossible at this point with
the state of our knees. So we headed back to Tina's Guesthouse to
catch the shuttle back to Lijiang.

We splurged on the big room (First Bend) at The Tea Boutique and
chatted a little with Maggie (the owner) upon our return. She helped
us get tickets to the Black Dragon Pool for the next day. We ate again
at Indulgence for dinner, recommended by Kevin (the other owner), and
got to play with their cute, very fluffy white dog. The next morning
we rose late, had lunch again at Indulgence (this time trying new
dishes), and then headed to the Black Dragon Pool Garden. This park is
where all the pictures of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain are taken. Then it
was back to Indulgence for dinner, saying good bye to fluffy white
dog, checking out of the Tea Boutique, saying goodbye to the hotel dog
BeiBei, and down to the airport for a 9:20 pm flight to Chengdu. After
much confusion at the baggage claim (Chengdu has more than 3 baggage
claims!!!), we were met by Winnie and driver and taken to Buddha Zen
Hotel. On the plane, Scotty had discovered that our hotel was featured
in the in-flight magazine. We were very excited as neither of us had
ever stayed at one of these featured hotels before. Buddha Zen
definitely did not disappoint! We were greeted by a comfortable bed,
extremely nice bathroom, and a fruit bowl.

- Julia