I’ve mentioned before that you should probably save on your gym membership and come to China instead.
You actually need to do some hardcore workout at the gym if you are thinking of attempting the “real” trek along the “high road” of the Tiger Leaping Gorge (虎跳峡).
We’ve been trekking almost every other day in China, so I was actually pretty confident to attempt the hike even though Lonely Planet did make a passing mention that it MIGHT be tiring even for someone in peak physical condition.
I don’t mean to brag, but back when I was at my physical prime, I’ve been known to be able to down a pint of beer in as little as 5.1 seconds.
After more than 10 years of attempting to beat that record, I stood at the start of the trail through the Tiger Leaping Gorge, carrying what is known in technical terms as “my fat ass”.
As some of you might’ve guessed by now, the hike was not easy. In fact, the hike was INSANE HARD.
It doesn’t help that we started our trek later than the usual crowd would. We figured we had time so we might so well take 2, maybe even 3 days to do the usual 1 to 2 days hike through the gorge.
Good thing we were joined by Claudia, a crazy-fit Australian with even crazier hair. Claudia is someone who could walk on ahead of us just to “check things out” first, finish two cups of boiling hot tea and a Snickers bar while she waited for us to catch up.
That’s bad ass.
Halfway through the hike, we discovered that we were walking at a rate that is almost double the “Slowest Estimated Time” (the hostel owner’s words not ours) displayed on the map that had been given to us (and by “we”, of course I meant “Jo and I”, not Claudia) . (by “us”, I refer to “Jo and I” too, Claudia was too bad ass to need a map)
At 3pm, we figured we probably would not be able to make our initial plan to reach the Halfway Inn by nightfall, so we decided shift our end zone nearer and spend the night at Tea Horse Inn in Ya Cha Village instead.
This was also when Claudia started saying “I think we should walk A BIT faster”.
Before anything else, I’ll like to say that we have quite a few Australian friends, and many of them are hardworking and diligent. Yet, I have an unwavering rule that if an Australian ask you to hurry the hell up, YOU MOVE YOUR ASS!
In the end, (obviously) I survived (Day 1 of) the hike, and actually thought of a way to make the hike bearable and even pleasant for an unfit beer lover like myself. The night before leaving for the Gorge, you pack a carton of beer in your backpack. At the hostel, do some light stretching (this is very important). Next finish the beer, sleep in and forget about the gorge.
True, you’ll miss some of the most amazing and jaw dropping scenery in the world, but when you wake up from your drunken stupor the next day, you MIGHT still be able to retain use of your legs.
And on the off chance that anyone from Lonely Planet is reading this, I’ll like to recommend a new activity for your writers to do the next time they are here.
Try jumping off the cliff into the Gorge.
It MIGHT hurt.