The upper section of the Yangzi River in northern Yunnan province is called Golden Sand River. She runs between her sisters the Salween and Mekong Rivers. Golden Sand wanted to marry the eastern sea. A dream said it. So she made a sudden turn east to meet the sea, but her jealous brothers Haba and Jade Dragon Snow Mountains blocked her way. They guarded her passage day and night, until one night Haba fell asleep on duty, allowing Golden Sand to slip past leaving the deep Tiger Leaping Gorge behind her speedy escape. When Jade Dragon awoke to find her gone, he was so angry with his brother that he took his sword and cut off the top of Haba’s head, leaving his peak shorter and flatter still today.The gorge left by Golden Sand can hardly be described. It sits between these towering giants and it seems impossible that such a huge river could find its way through. Between the banks of the river to the mountain peaks is a 10,000(3,300m) vertical feet wall of jagged rock. These peaks reach heights past 16,000 feet(5,600m). It is the world’s deepest gorge. It’s hard to keep your mouth closed.
Archive for February, 2006
A little disappointed by the clouds, but excited all the same, me and Gilad, my new Isreali travel partner took to the trail, our stomachs full of Margo’s beef and mustard sandwiches. Margo is an Australian woman who runs a small restaurant and guesthouse in Qiaotou, the village of 4,000 where the hike begins. She is married to Sean, who began one of the first guest houses in Walnut Garden 20 years ago and has worked to preserve the gorge scenery and cultural architecture built in the Naxi tradition. Between them, they have sandwiched the gorge with two nice places, and I’m glad that she flagged us down because other guest houses near Walnut Garden favor more development of the gorge and have built gaudy three story dorm blocks to service the droves of Chinese tourists and backpackers that flock here in the summer months. We are lucky to be here now, when the only other people on the trail are old Naxi women collecting fire kindling and the occasional goat herder. In the summer it seems that over 100 hikers can turn up in Walnut Garden making beds a premium. But here we sit in Old Horse guest house in this mild mountain paradise tempered by latitude, at the doorstep of spring, alone.