At 4 in the morning, we woke up with a start. A group of Chinese buddies had just woken up a few minutes ago. He dealt with his life as if no one else inhabited the ward. They turn on the TV at full volume, talk loudly and laugh with comedy shows.
At the same time, they help themselves to doses of instant noodles covered in powdered sauces that, in contact with boiling water, fouled the already musty atmosphere.
We got up, unwilling to match. We improvised a much healthier breakfast. We then left the Payunlou hotel for the clean, fresh air of Huang Shan.
Night Trip to the Discovery of Huang Shan, the Yellow Mountain
It's still night. The light from the headlamps placed over the forehead allows us to find our way through the pitch and to overcome the steps that lead to the terrace of monkey watching the sea.
We arrived at 4:30 am. The narrow balcony is already filling up.
Aware of the daily dispute for every half meter of those platforms rescued from the rocks, tour agencies in the region unload their clients there more than an hour in advance.
And there they leave them equipped with portable benches, blankets, pillows and attested terms for hot drinks.
We sacrifice comfort and, in a controlled way, also some security. We got a bold place on the precipice that no one had yet dared to claim.
It's perched there that, half an hour later, we see the sun come up over the horizon and illuminate a vast expanse of sharp cliffs that erupt from mist and a verdant base of climbing vegetation.
As a rule, to appreciate a mountain you have to look up, sometimes at exhausting angles for any neck. Huang Shan's beauty almost always reveals itself downward.
Down, and through ups and downs that, since at least 1500 years ago, the inhabitants of the area and workers of the resort have equipped with more than 60 thousand steps.
The day has barely begun. The thighs and the calves are already boiling.
Huang Shan. Yellow Mountains Above, Floating Mountains Below
We slaughtered them on those same stairs that led us, shortly afterwards, to the narrow corridor of the Refreshing Terrace, the threshold nook from where the Beginning to Believe Peak, named after an XNUMXth-century pilgrim who was skeptical of the beauty of Huang Shan.
By nightfall, we would conquer with masochistic pleasure countless other peaks. And depressions refined by a breathtaking prehistoric natural sculpture.
We return to the Beihai area.
We came across some bell magnate sitting as a lord in a bamboo stretcher chair, carried on his back by slaughtered porters in blue uniforms.
We see them stop for the passenger to buy a cob of cooked corn from a vendor located there. Soon, we took a deep breath and faced the endless staircase that would take us to new heights.
Many of the peaks and rocks of Huang Shan were named by the Chinese with pompous names inspired by religious or mythological figures and narrations.
In Search of the Flying Over Rock of the Floating Yellow Mountains
At that moment, we were ascending to the longitudinal Flying over Rock, so called because it rests, in balance, on a small raised platform, where it seems to have landed from the sky.
This is more or less what the workers of Huang Shan thought when they saw the deceased appear on their mountain in 1980. Deng Xiaoping, then 75 years old.
His appearance was so miraculous that, following the visit of the supreme leader, the Chinese authorities opened the mountain to foreign visitors for the first time since Chinese Cultural Revolution.
We relieve the growing pressure on the muscles and tendons as we finally make our way over smooth terrain to the vicinity of the foothills of the highest peaks of the mountain range, the Bright Summit Peak (1840m) and the lotus peak (1864m).
Several tracks intersect there, along with the strange weather and TV stations.
And Huang Shan's Walking Fairy Bridge Remote Retreat
A semi-planned area was home to a mini-restaurant complex where hundreds of ecstatic and hungry souls gather. We refresh ourselves by admiring the distant pilgrimage to the highest summit of Huang Shan.
Half an hour later, we resumed walking, along a long, uninhabited path that we thought would lead us to the depths of the Walking Fairy Land Bridge.
We continued for 40 minutes on end, without seeing a soul, disturbed by the prospect of the mistake and of having to go up, in vain, everything that we were going down.
Until, after crossing a mysterious tunnel, there we glimpse the monument, joining two huge walls of polished stone in the middle.
In that mystical nook, like everywhere else, countless Huang Shan pines stand.
They boast assorted shapes and sizes that the Chinese consider unique examples of vigor because they sprout from the rocks and are, many of them over a hundred years old.
At that time, our legs felt as stiff as the predominant granite in the landscape, uncovered about 100 million years ago when an ancient sea succumbed to extreme tectonic movements.
The Illusory Area of the Yellow Mountain and the Fiction Inspired by "Avatar"
We are faced with the “Illusion Scenic Area” and with the dramatic reality that the suspended walkway that was supposed to allow us to bypass the return to Beihai had been closed at the risk of collapse.
It is, therefore, almost insensitive from the waist down to any effort that we reverse march towards that extraterrestrial domain that director James Cameron will have transposed to the screen in “Avatar".
He, too, dazzled by the sublime panoramas of Huang Shan, Cameron repeated in press conferences that that had been the inspiration for much of the film's alien settings. In particular from the mountain "Hallelujah".
Cameron confessed, moreover, to an unceremonious subservience to the original geological version. “All we had to do was send a team over there for a few days and take pictures. Then it was just recreating Huang Shan in Pandora.”
According to the movie's plot, humans extract from this imaginary habitable moon, a precious mineral called unobtanium and the expansion of mining threatens the existence of the blue humanoid Na'vi people.
Huang Shan, on the other hand, is considered and portrayed for many centuries as the most enchanting mountain in the nation. It continues to enjoy the protection of the Chinese authorities.
Luckily for the lucky earthlings who disgrace their legs to explore it.