Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tiger Leaping Gorge (虎跳峡)

One of the last big things i did before i left china was to visit Tiger Leaping Gorge (虎跳峡). This had slipped off my agenda when i heard about the fantastic trekking opportunities that were to be had around the town Deqin (德钦), however i cannot explain in words ho cold it is 3600m up near the Tibetan border. So needless to say my time in Deqin was extremely brief.

The lack of a proper excursion in the foothills of Tibet meant that Tiger Leaping Gorge was back on the agenda. One of the reasons that this wasn't especially high on my agenda, is having trekked around Hawaii, and Australia by myself, i've found it really is more fun with company. Especially when you get into that classic "Do i go this way, or that way" situations.

My company came in the form of Peruvian woman that i met in Shangri-la (香格里拉) called Alessandra.  Together we walked the 18km from the upper gorge to the middle gorge. The whole trip took about 7-8 hours including a stop at one of the guesthouses half way to eat and pick Snickers bars (巧克力) for the trip.

The trail's configuration is a mixture of public roads, dirt trails, and steps hewed out solid rock. One of my favourite bits, and one of the most interesting is this waterfall (Image left). The gorge sits between two Gigantic mountains, both reaching well over 5000m at there respective peaks. As result melting snow running down the mountain(s) provides these amazing features. There is essentially no path at the waterfall, the water from the waterfall runs over the "designated" path and off the edge of the cliff.

While the water isn't a deep, it's not particularly dangerous (well as long as you don't lose your balance while taking HDR photos), it is an awesome experience to be perched between this falling fresh water and a 1000m drop down into the gorge.

So i have a disease, i'm an addict, a Computer addict. As a result of my disease i see it necessary to carry my Macbook everywhere me. Well in this case, i didn't feel comfortable leaving it at the starting Guest house, so i thought i really ought to bring it with me. The fact that i had a new episode of Family Guy, and had been doing quite well in my FM12 game did not influence my decision in any way shape or form.

Needless to say after a few kilometers it began to dawn on that i really needed to somehow make the fact that i was carrying a 3kg laptop with me 18km, worthwhile, The below was the result.

In many ways it actually sums up my trip quite well, travelling the world, glued to my laptop. Sometimes a consumer, others a contributor, but most importantly a creator.

But i digress, after the trek i was well and truely shattered. My legs hurt and while the pain did subside over the next few days it was still fairly taxing. Nothing that would have me advise people not to do the trek, but make sure you don't plan on doing much afterwards.

Anyways if your interested in seeing my route in additional detail, i've used my billion dollar GPXShare app to upload my GPS trace, which you can enjoy here.

To close, Tiger Leaping Gorge was impressive, the views amazing, however from the short amount of time i spent in Tibetan hinterland that was Deqin, and the feilai temple (飞来) i'm confident that even better trekking is to be had there.

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