A Day Hiking Mount Qingcheng

What a week it’s been!

We landed in Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport a week ago last night after a journey that took nearly 27 hours door-to-door, including about 20 hours of flying. We spent our first few days in China with my family, introducing Lawrence to all four of my grandparents, as well as all of my aunts and uncles, some cousins, and several more distant relatives. We also celebrated my maternal grandfather’s 80th birthday.

After that, we’ve spent the rest of the past week touring Sichuan, the province where I was born and where most of my family still lives. We started with two days in Dujiangyan and then went to Leshan/Emeishan for two days. Today, we’re back in Chengdu to see Sichuan’s famous pandas and prepare for the next part of our trip, which begins tomorrow. We’ll be flying to Xi’an first thing in the morning and spending a few days there before boarding a high speed train to Beijing, where we’ll spend several more days before flying back to Chengdu.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Today, I want to launch this blog’s new “A Day” series, where I share in detail how I spent a single day (a possible day, if you will), by telling you about the first of those two days in Dujiangyan. We spent the day hiking Mount Qingcheng from base to summit.

Mount Qingcheng is one of the four sacred mountains of Taoism, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a place I wanted to take Lawrence because I had fond memories of it from my last visit, 14 years ago. There are two main paths up the mountain; since I had previously visited the back mountain (hou shan), this time we chose to visit the more popular front mountain (qian shan), which is sprinkled with Taoist temples.

The experience of hiking up a mountain in China is pretty different from what you might be used to in the U.S. For one thing, it’s stairs all the way up, at least on the more popular, developed mountains. China’s mountains, although they do offer scenery and nature, have generally seen millennia of development, and you will find uneven stone steps, elaborate temples, and vendors all along your path. For another, Chinese mountains can get very crowded, especially if, like we did, you go on a national holiday (in our case, Qingming Jie, or Tomb-Sweeping Day, the Chinese equivalent to Memorial Day).

I wanted to take you up Mount Qingcheng with us and show you firsthand what the experience was like, so I took over 50 video clips over the course of our day and put them together into my very first vlog. Since I’ve never edited video before and didn’t have very much time to learn, you get to witness all of the shakiness and heavy breathing of me recording footage while climbing an endless series of stairs. You don’t get to witness the steep, winding, crowded staircases toward the end of the hike, because I was too exhausted by then to focus on filming and my own balance at the same time.

Still, I hope you’ll come along with me and enjoy the stunning views from the top and the cable car ride down.