We headed out on a hiking trip Friday night after I finished work. We went out with a group of 28 people total. It was all arranged by the group leader Tin ya. He was also in the group that went to Rooster Mountain together. Anyways we all met up at a local meeting spot where we would get on our bus that we booked. It cost around $200 to book for the weekend. Initially we each paid RMB 100 (around $15) for the bus and personal insurance for the weekend.
After meeting up at the bus station we all caught a quick bite to eat before heading out on our 5 hour bus ride to a farmer's hotel where we would spend the night. On the bus ride everyone introduced themselves (some knew each other from previous trips) and Tin ya briefed everyone on the details of the trip. We arrived near the hotel around 11 PM to find that the road was under construction and the tour bus couldn't make it through. So we had no choice but to start our hike a little early. We got out of the bus to find it was about 40 degrees and muddy to begin putting on our gear and hiking the remaining mile that the bus couldn't make it. Then arriving the farmer's hotel we had to beat on the door for a while to wake him up so we could get in out rooms. Many of the rooms were multiple bed rooms (2-6) but Maggie and took a 2 - bed room to ourselves but it was an extra $3. So I guess we splurged a bit. ;)
We got up at 7 Sat. morning so we would have time to walk into the small town and have some breakfast before leaving on our hike at 8. It was a very old style town where most of the people were cooking with wood fired stoves. We found a small restaurant to get some bao zi (steamed bread with meat/veggies inside) and dumplings. There were fairly good and the dumplings will warm you up in the cold morning. After eating we headed across the small street to a local shop that sold a little bit of everything. Where we bought some light gloves since it was a bit colder than expected. Then other people bought some heavier shoes and alcohol for later use. The shop owner was so excited to have great sales she gave me a small cake I wanted for free.
Then we began our hike which was expected to be around 6 hours of walking with a stop for lunch in the middle. As we started we were walking down a small dirt road fit for small trucks or motorcycles. There was great scenery all around with small farms growing assortments of vegetables and their very basic wood houses with smoke coming up through the vented roofs. Then after a couple hours into the hike we merged off onto a small hiking trail that led up the mountain side between a few small farms finally ended at a farmer house where we would stop to cook our lunch.
After lunch we began hiking down more trails and small roads fit for motorcycles. We seemed to be in mostly very light forest with smaller evergreens and brush. Around halfway we stopped atop of a nice hill to take a rest and have a group photo. After walking a while after that we worked into some thicker forest where we found wild kiwi and pear trees where we stopped to pick a few. We seemed to be working down the mountain then and it got pretty muddy. We began crossing some small streams that we had to cross by walking across the rocks and adding a few where needed. Then finally walking along the stream where we came out to a farmer's house where we would be camping.
It was pretty amazing to see this farmer's house. So secluded, no electricity, nothing. Just a good old fashioned farm. I would have liked to ask him a lot of questions since I am so interested in his lifestyle but do to the communication differences... I can only imagine they were excited to see the group of us. They must get bored out there right? Anyways I am sure they made a killing off the 5 chickens and other stuff we purchased from them.
Anyways I had never actually gutted and plucked a chicken myself so after we weighed them I decided to join in. I just followed along with the professional chicken killer in our group. We cleaned everything, remember here they don't like to waste anything. So I even helped clean the intestines even though I'm not a fan of eating them. Just taste like rubber to me. After the chickens were cleaned they had begun cooking with their huge woks that sat in a cement table with a wood fire down below. 100% old fashioned here. So during the slow cooking we had begun a little drinking and others huddled around the fire pit inside the farmer's home.
Then we began our dinner. It came out pretty good being in the middle of nowhere with limited supplies. We ended up with a chicken and bamboo dish, and a radish soup picked from the garden. Between bites of food we passed around the jugs of homemade corn and berry alcohol we purchased back in the small town. After people finished eating drinking games began including paper, rock, scissors and other Chinese drinking games. Then soon we moved to the campfire that the farmer had prepared for us.
Standing around the fire, which we probably didn't need since the jugs of alcohol had everyone quite warm already, we continued to pass the jugs around while sing alongs and other crazy acts had begun. It was a riot to say the least. After some time, I have no idea how much, the party dwindled down to a few people left and we decided to get some rest since the next day we had to be up by 7 to begin our 12 mile or so hike back to town where we would catch the bus.
The next day we woke up feeling pretty good since we remembered to keep our wits the night before. It was cold with a light rain to start our day. We cooked some eggs to eat with some bread for breakfast. Then we began tearing down our tents. Most everyone was in good shape besides a girl that puked in her tent all night. Tin ya, had to practically drag her out of her tent and start tearing it down for her. Then there was another guy too hung over to carry his pack so he paid the farmer to carry it out for him. I think a few bucks to carry it to the 6 mile point or something.
Then we began hiking. This time we would be going another way through thicker jungle. As we went along it just got thicker and thicker, but still interesting to see. At many times you were ducked right down to make it through the bamboo. I mean almost crawling. We went though many streams and were almost rock climbing at points. The famer say's he made this trail and it is the shortest way out. I have no idea how he ever navigated it in the first place. We finally made it out to the main road ( 2 track ) after about 5 hours of the heavy jungle I guess. Most spots I didn't even bother taking out my camera since it was raining and so thick you couldn't see anything anyways.
After a few minutes rest we decided to get a start on the remaining 10 miles or whatever distance it was. Many people were still in the thick jungle. Only around 7 of the 25 had made it out. The whole way was a muddy 2 track but there was a lot of nice views to keep you occupied and your mind off your aching body. We took a couple few minute breaks along the way and once ten minutes to stuff down a few pieces of bread. We didn't want to break too long though because it just made our bodies hurt worse. Then finally the last 2 miles a trucked pulled up next to us full of bags. Someone had arranged the truck to take them out to the town. Also a few other people had arranged themselves into the truck. So we gave in and threw our bags on the truck but continued walking.
Finally we started coming up on more houses and started getting into the city. Then we finally seen our bus parked along the street. We were the third and fourth people to make it back, aside from the 5 or 6 cheaters. We quickly changed to warmer coats then to the small restaurant to get some fried rice and spicy noodles since we were freezing and starved by this point. After eating others began trickling in and we went across the street where I purchased some fuzzy slippers for the ride back since my feet were soaked. I didn't want to endure the 5 hours on the bus with cold, wet feet. After everyone else got some food we finally departed back to Chongqing. Around 11:30 we arrived our apartment excited to take that hot shower. Then, lucky us, the gas was off to our apt. for maintenance so we had to call a friend to ask if we could come shower at his place.
At times we wondered why we went on the trip but we didn't regret going despite the aching body. I was especially proud that Maggie was able to be one of the first people to make it back. It was her first time to do a hike of such difficulty. We didn't think we would want to do another one anytime soon. However maybe in a few months we'll be ready again.