Woke up at 4am, and thought I’d take advantage of being one of the first ones up, to charge my phone. There weren’t any outlets in the train cabin, so I sat in the hallway charging my phone (slooooowly).
Got to Huangshan station right on time, and the gentleman from my train cabin that spoke some English pointed me in the direction of the buses to Tangkou. They would’ve been hard to miss anyway – not only were they straight ahead of the exit, but a lady had a speaker and was loudly directing people to various buses. I couldn’t understand any of it (all in Chinese) so I asked to make sure I was getting on the right bus, and settled in for an hour long ride with my legs and pack stacked above the wheel well. Cozy!
Then, on to buy a ticket for the next bus, and a twisty ride later, we were at the base of the east stairs (and gondola).
There were very few people around – it was not the mass of tourists I’d been expecting. I probably could have ridden the gondola up without too long a wait, but I came intending to hike up, so I did. Many times, I couldn’t see anyone ahead of or behind me. I also didn’t see much in the way of mountainous scenery – it was so misty all you could see was the trail and a few hazy trees.
There were quite a few porters on the trail, lugging up their heavy loads. I thought of myself as the (wo)man in black, scaling the cliffs of insanity, and gaining on them. Inconceivable! Of course, I wasn’t carrying their load. I didn’t see anyone get carried up.
I had started out with a warm jacket and ski hat, but as I climbed, shed a lot of layers since the stairs were a good way to work up a sweat. It wasn’t until the very top when the wind came up, and the mist/clouds really socked in, that I felt cold again. But I didn’t want to stop to get bundled up, so just held my poncho in place around me and hurried on to my hotel.
Visibility was so poor that you had to get really close to the signs to read them, but I eventually found the right place.
It’s supposed to clear up tomorrow, so instead of hiking in the chilly mist this afternoon, only to not be able to see anything, I’m staying warm and catching up on…this!
And I have to say, backpacking that ends with a hot meal, shower, and comfy bed is pretty excellent.