We got off the bus at the beginning of the hike to the sun already heating up the trail. The temperature these past couple of days has been in the thirties, so tough hiking weather, but perfect views. Our lonely planet had said it was a nice stroll to a guesthouse that could give you a good mornings meal so we hadn’t eaten.
Landslides and new development happen fairly frequently here though and the trail has been re-routed up then down a peak rather than a stroll around. Needless to say when we finally reached the guesthouse we were famishied and smashed down some food. The ’29 bends’ tough climb up that followed to where the tiger supposedly leapt seemed pretty easy going after the morning’s climb on zero energy. The views out across the gorge were fantastic, in saying that the views throughout the hike were brilliant.
We stayed at a decent guest house in the gorge, with a good group of travellers to chat to into the night.
Day two of the hike saw us climbing down into the gorge, along some pretty narrow cliff paths and rickety old ladders. We went to the middle rapid section, where the brown water pummelled its way through a narrower channel, crashing over rock faces.
After a hot hike back up we attempted to find Walnut Garden for lunch; the path wound up a lot further than we expected and unfortunately was a dead end. Me and one of the German guys had powered ahead to scout out if there was a track. Upon starting to turn back we met his girlfriend just reaching the summit and not amazingly thrilled to have to walk the same way back. Kathrin had turned back earlier into the climb, another hill in the heat just too much.
I tightened my backpack straps, told the German couple I’d see them at the hostel, put my headphones in and paced it down in the mid afternoon heat. My running and all-round travelling shoes now just about holding together with the very final strips of rubber left in the soles. They’ve had several thousand kilometres put through them now, so in need of replacing when I’m back in a land where people have normal sized feet.
I caught Kathrin about 6km later just outside the town with enough time to eat lunch before our bus onwards to Shangri-la.
The hike was a super one, it has so far dodged being turned into a concrete pavement, and there are surprisingly few tourists on the trail with the majority taking a coach along the lower road into the gorge. Shangri-la hosts more cycling and hiking routes, so the fantastically outdoorsy active journey into Yunnan continues.