We certainly would have heard of terms like sandstone, quartz, stalactites, and stalagmites during our geography classes but very few of us would have actually had a chance to experience them. I'm glad that I'm one among those privileged few. Monstrous sandstone rocks, colorful limestone caves, exhilarating forest treks, exuberant screams from mountain tops, its reverberating echoes, natural oxygen bars - all packed into one name - Zhangjiajie.The most beautiful place that I ever went in China, is Yellow Mountain. It is a group of mountains located in the southeast part of China in the province of Anhui. One claims that it has 72 peaks, with many of them unexplored and not reachable by normal travelers.
Unlike most of the scenic areas in North America, most of the areas in Yellow Mountain can not be reached by car. That means you have to be able to hike most of the way.Located in the northwestern Hunan province, this geological national park is an abode to numerous flora and fauna. A forty-five minutes bus drive from Zhangjiajie city is all that is required to reach this park. A quick ticket (costing RMB 245) check at the entrance of this magnificent verdure nature reserve throws the gate open and all you have is unending chain of sandstone rocks, man made alleys passing among them, taking you to newer heights with every step you take. The incline made us perspire despite cold weather.The sandstone rocks are lean though gigantically tall, brownish red colored, uneven surfaced and are clad with shrubbery scantily across the length and densely on the summit, giving it a feel of a tiny boscage. The miracles of nature, for me, were limited to magazines and television, but Zhangjiajie gave me a chance to witness such miracles in reality.
There were rocks that had a semblance to a tortoise, a human face, a candle, a whip (the famous golden whip), dragon and several other forms. I continued my stride spellbound by nature's vivid manifestations. At some juncture, gradually, with every step I took, a sort of a bridge connecting one such tall mountain started unveiling itself. I was about to damn the tourism department for having spoilt the intrinsic beauty by building such bridges. As I got closer to it, I realized that it was a natural one, to add, it is the world's highest natural bridge. I was awestruck by the architectural capabilities of our mother nature. I allowed my camera to have a quick glimpse of it and raced towards it to have a privilege of treading the world's highest bridge. The thin metal balustrades of the bridge were fully clad with pairs of locks, signifying the everlasting bondage among the couples who lock them. This natural super structure brought our first day's trek to a halt. We checked into a tiny lodge, which provided us with sleeping space, hot water shower and sumptuous food. Unfortunately there was no heater, mercury levels fell below zero, outside rain and snow mingled and fell from heaven. I still remember that night to be one of the coldest nights I've spent.
There are way too many viewpoints to mention, and they are all must-sees. I just want to summarize the four major types of viewpoints in Yellow Mountain area.
pine treeYellow Mountain area has subtropical weather and is very wet all year. The temperature is never too high or cold. This is perfect for pine to grow.
And because the mountains are kind of rocky, pine trees have to fight for the way up and in the middle of rocks. Some of the pines have the most beautiful shaped trunk I have ever see, and you will be amazed by where they could grow and how well they can grow. Pine trees are everywhere along the many trails.
rocksRocks come in all shapes and positions in Yellow Mountain area. Some of the rocks are sitting at the edge of a platform, as if it will roll down the cliff any minute. One big round shape rock sit on a platform with no other hill nearby, and Chinese call it "Flying stone", for it was suspected flying there from another peak. And you can definitely play the naming game while you are climbing on a trail. One rock could shape like anything, your imagination is the limit.
waterfallWaterfall comes at all kind of unexpected places in Yellow Mountain. Some are all year, some are seasonal. Sometimes just as you take a turn in the narrow trail, a waterfall appears along the peak on the other side of the canyon, and just as you take another turn, it will disappear in no time. With the waterfall, there are also springs in the area. Most of the already discovered ones are always crowded with people though. For people believe the spring water in the area has very good theraputical function.
the sea of cloudThis, to me, is the most amazing view of Yellow Mountain. Again, probably due to the wetness all year long, clouds are constantly forming a sea of all shapes around the mountains. As you climb your way to the top of some of the mountains, you are essentially climbing from under the cloud to in the cloud and finally up on the top of the sea of clouds. Sometimes the clouds themselves form mountain top formation, and they can move to you as a group very fast, and just as you think the cloud mountain will hit you, it collapses in no time and you can see how the clouds spread out and form new shapes.
Even more amazing is to see the sunrise on the top of the mountain. For there is no lodging at the top of the mountain, and it normally takes about a hour to hike to the peak from the nearest lodge, you have to get up very early and hike in the dark. But to see the sun rises from the sea of cloud is such an amazing event, that I would recommend to everyone who visits Yellow Mountain.