Summer 2007 Travels Part 2: Tiger Leaping Gorge

Last time, I posted about the time Mari, Tim and I spent in Lijiang.  After spending two days there, we went on to Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the deepest gorges in the world.  Wikipedia says it could be considered the world's deepest gorge, depending on the criteria used.  According to this site, the peaks on either side of the gorge are about 19,000 feet high, and the river at the bottom is at about 6,000 feet, so the gorge itself is 13,000 feet from the bottom all the way up to the peaks above it.  Just to give you an idea of high incredibly deep the gorge is, think of Mount Rainier.  It's 14,410 feet, so the gorge is more than 90% of the height of the tallest thing most of us have ever seen.  Or think of the Grand Canyon.  Wikipedia lists it as being about 6,000 feet at its deepest point, so TLG is more than twice the depth of the Grand Canyon.  I've run out of superlatives to describe the gorge.  And yet, for some reason, virtually no one has heard of TLG, outside of the Chinese and tourists who visit China.  I took tons of pictures (the folder on my computer has more than 160), but it's impossible to capture the grandeur of the gorge on film (or on SD card, as it were).   

The gorge has two main paths.  There is a low road close to the river, where cars can drive, and a high trail, several thousand feet above the road, where you can hike.  We took the high trail and hiked the length of the gorge over the course of two days.  It's easily the most scenic hike I've ever taken in my entire life, and I highly recommend a visit if you ever go to China.




The beginning of the gorge.





Takes your breath away, doesn't it?


There are many Naxi who live and work along the trail. This woman was engraving a sign.



There are many guest houses along the trail. This is the first one we passed, where we stopped for lunch the first day.





More gorge awesomeness.


Periodically along the trail, there would be these signs, letting you know how far to the next guest house. We wound up staying a night at the Halfway Guest House. They're not kidding when they advertise a "Scenic Toilet View", as you'll see shortly.


Tim, sitting on the balcony of the Halfway Guest House as the sun was setting.


This picture didn't turn out so great because there was no way to backup with the wall behind me...but this is the toilet with the scenic view. The wall only goes up to your waist, and you look right out at the 13,000 foot gorge while you relieve yourself :).


Sunset over the gorge.


Sunrise over the gorge, the next morning.


This is the Halfway Guest house from further down the trail.



It's not every day that you meet a herd of wild mountain goats on the trail of a 13,0000 foot gorge.



There were a few waterfalls on the trail.



You can see the road for cars on the right of this picture.


Tiger Leaping Gorge is so named because, according to legend, a tiger once leaped across it. This is the point where the tiger supposedly leaped.



Once we reached the end of the gorge, we caught a taxi back to Lijiang.  From there we flew to Chengdu, which I'll tell you about in my next post.

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Husband and father, musician, software engineer at SEOmoz, open source developer specializing in Ruby and Rails, world traveler and Christian.