Tiger Leaping Gorge

Trip Start Aug 18, 2008
Trip End Sep 01, 2008

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Keeping my fingers crossed for a nice day (i.e. no rain), I woke up with great anticipation of this place that everyone in China raves about.
            Unfortunately we were short on time so could only do a 1 day trip to Tiger Leaping Gorge instead of a 2 or 3 day trek.  So our trip may have been a bit rushed and to the "touristy" spots but I still thought it was spectacular. 
            It was about a 2 hour drive from Lijiang and we stopped in the town of Qiaotou for lunch where we went to a traditional Chinese restaurant where we were escorted into the kitchen to look at the selection of food available and pointed to what we wanted cooked.  I really enjoyed that- seeing all the fresh vegetables lined up and then having it be a surprise how they would actually cook them- fried, boiled, and with what seasonings.  We also switched  vans after lunch since the road to Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge is mostly a dirt road and filled with pot holes and disrupted by the occasional landslide
            It took us about a half hour to hike down to the middle rapids of Tiger Leaping Gorge and to the stone where it is said a tiger once leapt across the river (hence the name tiger leaping gorge).  It was slightly tricky to get out to the rock as the path across some stones in the river was frequently overtaken with a rush of water from the river.  I have to say I was slightly panicked about slipping and being washed away down the river, but on one else seemed to be worried about it and it turned out that I was the only one who made it without getting wet.  Guess it paid off to have crossed all those rivers in Nepal by jumping from rock to rock with water rushing around. The stone itself was nothing much- it gave a nice view up the river and had a plaque but it was written in Chinese so not totally sure what it said.
            After we were all safely back on the main land we started the long steep hike back up the hill.  It was warm but not too hot and I was just glad that the rains ha held off.  At one rest point we came across a fork in the path. One way said "safe path" and the other way said "ladder - Dangerous Path".  Of course we went the way of the ladder which took you trait up the side of the cliff instead of the switchbacks along the safe path.  I really liked the ladder and really at no point did I feel unsafe at all- I think that was a gimmick for the tourist to make them feel really adventurous like Indian Jones or something
            Finally made it up to the top of the road and had a brief rest at Tina's Guest House with a nice cold sprite and bag of chips before walking back down the road to catch our van and head on back to Lijiang. 
            One more stop on the way back had us hiking once again down a steep path to the upper rapids of Tiger Leaping Gorge.  They had built a really nice wood plank walkway down, so it was a very easy climb down and they built a viewing platform that went right out over the rapids.  It was an awesome sight to be so close to the raging river and just see and hear the intensity of the water, one of those things you can't describe you just have to experience yourself. 
            The rest of the day was pretty uneventful comparatively.  The rain held off until we were back in Qiaotou where we did have to wait over an hour for our van back to Lijiang... no one knew where he was and wasn't answering his phone.  Still never found out once he showed up why he was so late, but I have my suspicions...
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