I got a later start than I’d intended to, but after a tasty breakfast of bus station adjacent mystery meat steamed buns, I set off on the “lower” (black marker) route that my hotel host had suggested. As I was waiting on the bus, 2 other westerners got on – they’re from Barcelona (but met while both were living in Sydney) and are now traveling for 6 months on their way home. We wound up hiking much of the day together.
Lots and lots of steps. Lots and lots of breathtaking views. I opted to take a gondola down and save my knees from the descent. Navigation was made more interesting by the varying English translations (the same place might be called one thing on the map, another on one sign, and yet another on the next sign).
At the bottom, I walked along a nice flat trail beside a stream. It was surprisingly slippery, but I was still able to walk a pretty brisk pace. I caught up with a group of school kids who took up the whole trail. A little while after I’d manage to pick my way through and pass them, they’d decide to race one another and run up ahead of me, and then walk slowly again. Kids!
But mostly it was a really peaceful hiking day. Late November seems like a perfect time to be here. Cool but not cold, and (almost) no crowds.
I had dinner at the same place as the night before, and a lady from another part of Hunan, who was in town on business, joined me. She helped me order taster-sized cups of the 2 kinds of infused rice wine they had. And after dinner, one of the people working there brought me a bit of some weird plant that they were snacking on. It tasted like dates. At the foot massage I had after dinner, a lady shared some chestnuts with me.