hiking

Back to Shanghai

Woke up and got some breakfast thanks to Allen and headed for the Yuping Cableway that would lead me off of the mountain. By this time it was 8:15am and I had to be at the train station at 2pm to catch my bullet train back to Shanghai. Based on the map, it said it would take me 4 hours of hiking to get back to Huangshan and from there about an hour taxi to the station. I was a bit stressed on time but I had no other options.

So the hike begins. This time I have all of my luggage. My rolling suitcase weighed probably 20lbs and my backpack with cameras, laptops, tripod, watches, etc. was on my back. It was grueling. I basically spent the first 45 mins entirely in prayer because I surely felt doomed to fail. My legs were aching and started shaking, I was running low on water, and the stairs kept climbing higher and higher. However, after that intense 45 mins, I reached Bright Top and things leveled out for a time. Also I stopped feeling the ache in my legs and the scenery became even more beautiful. The hike continued and once I reached the Bayiun Hotel, I had only 2 hours left until I reached the cablecar. The whole place was magnificent. There were many forks in the road and I kept asking for directions, but each time I asked I was directed toward the more difficult option. Awesome. I really wanted to launch my drone in a few spots but I knew it wouldn't be worth missing my train so I snapped a few pics while walking and made it to the cablecar about an hour ahead of schedule!

The cablecar was the finish line. I finally got to sit and enjoy the wondrous beauty around me. I had a gondola all to myself and just listened to the bugs chirp and the wind blow through the small windows. Dragonflies the size of canaries were everywhere on the mountain but they vanished once I began my descent. Hoped on a bus to Huangshan and took a taxi to the train station.

I spent most of my time editing (as usual) but I also read a bunch too! When I finally got back to the Chase's home I was so sore and exhausted. They fed me wonderful food and caught up with me on my travels until we all crashed and went to bed.  

Huangshan Mountains

First thing in the morning, I took an hour and a half taxi for 185¥ and ended up at a town near Huangshan Mountain. I met a Chinese national named Allen who became my travel companion. We took a bus to get inside where the driver was basically whipping us around hairpin turns for 20 mins. That cost 20¥. Getting inside the park and a gondola ticket was another 310¥. The gondola ride was unlike anything I had ever seen. That alone would have been worth the 330¥. 

This pic reminds me of Jurassic Park

Because I left my old lodgings behind, I took my suitcase with me. This turned into quite the hassle when hiking the mountainous trails of Huangshan. Eventually we made it to a hotel where Allen had a reservation and he booked one for me as well. The amount of stress that took off my shoulders was immaculate. He even paid the 300¥ for the room for me and tole me to send him money over PayPal when I got back to the states. He did this because he's an amazing human being and he wanted to make sure I had enough cash to last me the rest of the trip. Seriously Allen was a Godsend. Once my hotel was booked, Allen bounced. I left the heavy pieces of my luggage in my hotel room and headed out to see some of the Hunagshan Mountains. 

I started maybe around 2pm and went along the Xihai Grand Canyon. It seriously makes the US Grand Canyon look like child's play. Not in size, the US still has that one, but in sheer, stunning beauty. Absolutely magical. Several times I launched my drone to get some areal shots of the canyon. There was a lot of interference due to the massive rocks in the area (or so I think), so flying it was not the easiest task. Some of the cement walkways were hugging the side of the mountain, as were most of the hikers. You would see the walkways coming up and notice there was nothing supporting them from underneath. Luckily there were railings and the cement was sturdy. However if the cement failed or someone fell, it would be an utter miracle if they came out alive. No risk no reward. 

Everyone was fascinated with my drone and loved watching me fly it. The shadows of the mountains and the bright sky made for a really high contrast scenario so I'm interested in seeing how the footage turned out. My DJI Phantom 3 Standard doesn't shoot video in RAW, so I'm curious to see how much I'll be able to push or pull the footage. Enough camera nerd stuff. Unless you want to hear more, then tell me!

At the bottom of the Xihai Grand Canyon, there was a tram that ran up the mountain so you didn't have to hike all the way back. Sure it was 100¥ but that is pocket change compared to the amount of effort hiking would have taken. By this time is was probably around 6:15pm and spending another 3 hours hiking didn't sound fun. Got to the top and it states to rain. Luckily Allen was very generous and bought me a poncho earlier on in the day. It probably took me an hour to hike with all my gear in the rain back to my hotel. 

Ate some extremely overpriced food and drank mediocre overpriced beer before sitting down and editing. Allen came by my room and gave me a free breakfast coupon (seriously what an amazing guy) and then left. Sadly I never saw him again. I was going to post on my blog/Instagram but the wifi there was so slow I couldn't even load a webpage. So instead I watched The Newsroom on my laptop and went to bed exhausted. 

The Great Wall of China: Jinshanling

Hopped on a bus at 6:30am that too me to the Great Wall of China with a tour group. Initially I had no intention of being that kind of tourist, but after I saw how difficult it would be to get there, I caved in. It worked out quite well though. Everyone was sleeping on the 2.5 hour bus ride there so things were pretty relaxed. 

Once we arrived, I had several options: the short route which consisted of a gondola ride, a medium route by walking, and a long route also by walking. I took the long route because I wanted to see as much as possible and fly my drone around cool areas. I didn't want to miss any cool opportunity. As it turns out, I wish I had taken the gondola. 

So there are many different places you can go on the Great Wall. Badaling is the closest to Beijing, but it is also highly populated with tourists. Jinshanling Is farther away so it has less tourists but is a bit more difficult. After reading that I thought, "ok I'm willing to have a bit more physical activity for less people." The hike was not as easy as they said. Skinny stone steps usually over a foot high were quite prevalent. I felt like no matter how much water I drank, I sweated more. While hiking the wall with 4 cameras was hard, I can't imagine having to fight a battle there.

 

Unbelievable is an accurate description of the Great Wall of China. It astounded me that people managed to build something that big, so long ago. The first wall was started around 200 BC. The towers sit on the tops of mountain ranges almost like something in Lord of the Rings. 

I flew my drone around and got some amazing video that I'll be putting together when I get back to LA. While I have 2 batteries, I only used 1 battery due to the intense hiking, high winds, and some scattered showers. Regardless, I know I definitely got some amazing footage. 

Did some editing when I got back to my hostel, then I went back to 159 because I needed to have that chicken back in my life. I broke one of my rules of eating the same food more than once but it was worth it. Instead of the tentacles from the depths of hell, I had sautéed green beans which were quite flavorful and cooked to perfection. I spent the rest of the night with Marcin and Diana catching up on what we each did that day and having other fascinating conversations. Definitely a relaxing way to finish my time in Beijing. Also, I'm not posting too many pics of the Great Wall right now because I really want to dedicate a lot of time into the edits. What I have in my head is so beautiful and I just can't complete it here in China.