Some people say Tiger Leaping Gorge is the world’s deepest river canyon, we say it’s a spectacular place to spend a few days hiking. With the Yangzte River cutting it’s icy way through some serious mountains, the higher you go, the more the river rewards you with it’s vindictive perspective.
Starting close to the river at the town of Qiaotou, we set off through the lush farming fields and layered terraces. Quickly the walk get’s vertical, for what will be a constant climb for the next six hours. Culminating in a brutal, but brief section, not so lovingly known as the twenty-eight bends.
With little towns to stop for the night it’s easy to feel remotely blissful. And cold. Temperatures that are quickly remedied by fatty trekker fare – like special fried rice, yak infused noodles and dirty shredded potato pancakes. Delicious fat that you feel like you’ve somehow earned.
With an almost full moon on the rise and the view of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain before us, we fell in to a deep sleep of the kind you can only enjoy after a good day of sweaty hiking action. Aided enormously by an electric blanket.
We woke up to the trek unfolding along the high trail, making our way above teetering, unguarded precipes, through waterfall dissected paths and a new view around every bend. And even though we only walked half way, it’s easy to imagine spending a few more days keeping pace with the local Naxi villagers.
We pushed on with the idea of returning to Chinese civilisation for the Lantern Festival.
We wondered if anyone has every kayaked through the gorge? Apparently some optimistic adventurers took a raft to the river in the early eighties, but promptly they were dispatched to the ‘never seen again’ pile. So officially, the gorge is not considered navigable. It’s a wild and windy vermouth, and every year people also lose their lives hiking, through carelessness or an over enthusiastic wind.
We felt lucky to experience this unique landscape, albeit briefly, and the photos should tell you more about this special place than I can’t justify with words.