I woke up relatively early the next day on Huashan at about 6. I got up to just see the sun rise up through my dorm window but stupidly, was too lazy to take much photos. I went back to sleep a bit, but by 7.30 I was on my way out. I first climbed to the hilltop above the hotel, the real North Peak. There was a platform on the top where you could see a magnificent view of the rest of Huashan as well as the surrounding mountains and in the opposite direction, the city (Huayi) in the plains north of Huashan. I then set off towards Huashan, passing through the hotel courtyard which had a shrine. At the side futher down, the cable cars were already in motion, this being 8 am, a clear testament how industrious Chinese are and how seriously they take tourism, even at such a holy site as Huashan. The weather was brilliant on this new day. The sky was clear blue, a complete difference from the previous day which had been mostly gray and overcast. I was a little disappointed that there were to be no low cloud layers below the mountain, which I’d looked forward to from pictures of Huashan and Huangshan. There were hikers all around, despite it being morning, as well as porters carrying their heavy loads up the steep stairs. I headed to East Peak, the last major peak that I hadn’t gone to the previous day. Passing Gold Lock Pass, I turned left instead of right, and soon I reached a forested area. I climbed up to a long rocky ledge which somehow was East Peak. Unlike South, North, and West Peaks, there was no sign signifying this was East Peak. I soon came upon a hostel and temple, and further down I saw the distinct chess pavilion, which I recognized from photos I’d seen online, on a narrow ledge that was below. I’d wanted to go there, but I only realized at that point the only way to go there was through a risky climb down the cliff and across a narrow ledge. This was the Sparrow Hawk Steps, one of the two most dangerous points on Huashan, and you could only access it by paying 30RMB and using a harness and rope. I thought about it, but decided I’d rather just enjoy the mountain without risking my life. The other most dangerous point was the notorious Cliffside Plank Walk, which you can see on videos on Youtube, located near South Peak. Apparently the “walk” used to, literally, be walking along the cliff on a narrow wooden path while clinging on to iron chains against the cliff wall. Only one person could walk along this path, which had a cliff wall on one side and an open air and a 2,000m+ drop on the other. You can see why this is considered the most dangerous hike in the world by some people. Now, the authorities have ensured people can only do this walk with harnesses and pay a 30RMB fee, as with the previous precarious path. If people are going to risk their lives, better to make it safer and make a little money at the same time. A smart concept. Getting to the cliff walk was a little adventure too. You first pass through a small cavern before emerging onto a narrow path where only a metal chain attached to posts preventing you from falling off the cliff. If you want to actually do the cliff walk, you’d have to pass a gate, put on your harness and then climb down the cliff until you reached the cliff walk path. In betwen South Peak and East Peak, I went onto Central Peak, which was a shorter summit that was completed surrounded and in between the two other peaks. There were two abandoned buildings on it, otherwise there wasn’t much to see. I’d bumped into the Cantonese couple from my dorm while I was admiring the Chess pavilion on East Peak, and then again when I was heading down from South Peak. This second time, we were pretty happy to see each other again as we all knew it was the last time we’d meet. I reached my hostel on time to check out and take the cable car down by 3.00. I squeezed into the cable car with a family from Sichuan, which included a young lady in a nice short black dress which was absolutely the right kind of attire for visiting a holy mountain. I know they’re from Sichuan because of their language, which I’d asked them to be certain. I then took the shuttle bus to the visitor center, where I tried to locate the taxis outside. After about 5 minutes, screw it, I said, and called my driver from the previous day, Mr. Bao, who sped up the driveway because I was short on time. While taking me to Huashan high-speed rail station, I mentioned I worked in Taiwan. Mr. Bao reacted pleasantly to this, and told me he often read Taiwan news on the Internet. It’s censored in China so he’d have to “jump” the gov’t firewall (which is used in China to restrict Internet access to sensitive websites and content). We spoke a bit about democracy and the lack of it in China. We parted amiably and I got onto my train to Luoyang on time, where I was to get a pleasant shock onboard. Sign about the Cliff Walk. Apparently you can get your photo taken but by what I’m not sure since I didn’t go on it. The people are all wearing harnesses, which is basically the only thing keeping them from plunging thousands of feet into the valley below. Fir forest on the way to East Peak. A laborer carries a heavy load up this near-vertical staircase using just one hand to hold on, while a cleaner (guy in red) sweeps below. The cleaner then went up the staircase as well to sweep every step, whilst holding the dustpan at the same time! In other words, he walked up this staircase without holding on to anything.
Shrine that was above the North Peak hotel where I stayed in.