Monday, December 23, 2013

climbing to the golden summit at wudang mountain

Our second day in the Wudang mountains we did the hike from Nanyan to the very top of the mountain and the monastery there called the Golden Temple. The hike took us around 3 to 4 hours. We took many rest breaks and were in no hurry. It is all stone steps, but it is a lot of steps, 2,000 some in total we heard. Some of the steps aren't very steep, while with others, you are pretty much crawling up them.

When you start the hike you go downhill for a bit which can be a little disconcerting, since you know you are going to have to make it back up sooner or later. But what is really bad about starting downhill is the fact that it means at the end of the day when you walk back down, you end walking uphill when your legs are completely spent.
The reason you start downhill is so the trail can go through the first of the many temple you pass through on your way to the top.

The first temple you hit after walking downhill.

The main shrine in the first temple.
After you descend, you walk on some pretty flat terrain for awhile and get some really nice views. Along the entire hike, there are many red pieces of fabric hanging next to the trail that are ways of making offerings.

Some trees full of the red fabric.
It's not very long before you hit the uphill. It at least starts out fairly easy, to warm the legs up before the really hard stuff.


If you don't feel like walking up, you can also have some Chinese guys carry you up, like this lady.

 Around halfway up the path you hit the second major temple, the Pilgrims Temple. Here you have the choice of going left or right. The left trail is longer but less steep, while the right trail is shorter, steeper and goes through more temples. We took the right trail up and the left trail down. While steeper going up is hard on the thighs, steeper going down is hard on the knees.

The Pilgrims Temple

Maggie let Andrew take the extra steps to explore the temple while she rested at the bottom.
Once you pass the Pilgrims Temple and go right, it does start to get a lot steeper. There are some sets of stairs that seem to go on forever.


You go through two arches called Heaven Gate One and Two before you hit another temple that is a sign that you are getting very close to the top.

The temple that lets you know, you are getting close.

The view from the "Getting Close" Temple.
Just when you think you can't take anymore stairs, you get to the top and are rewarded with some impressive temples. We heard that during the Cultural Revolution, the Communists didn't make it all the way to the top, so supposedly, the Golden Temple is fairly true to its 1400's building.


 After paying your entry to the Golden Temple, you are surprised with... wait for it, more stairs. Actually a fair amount more stairs. The Monastery takes up a fairly large area of the summit and to get to the actual Golden Temple, you have to keep climbing until there's nowhere else up to go.

More stairs.

The coolest knocker ever on one of the temple doors.

Getting closer to the top, everything starts falling away from you and you realize how high up you are.
As you climb to the Golden Temple, you get a good view back on the Monastery.

Then finally the climbing is over and you feel like you are on the top of the world. Mountain peaks fall away from you all the way to the horizon in all directions. It is quite breath taking.



It was also cold.
The Golden Temple from right below it.

A quick lunch with some Health Wine, before heading back down.

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