• Josh Garman

My Return To Mount Huangshan

In this blog I return to the yellow mountains. These mountains have been a source of inspiration for me, through my writing and desire to travel. They inspired many others too such as James Cameron. He used them as well as two of the other sacred mountains in China as reference for the world he created in Avatar.

I've spoken a lot about these mountains already in my previous blogs during my first visit. So I'll keep this one short and include the three videos I made over each day of my trip to the mountains. You can read about my first trip here:

The mountains that changed my life (Part 1)


The mountains that changed my life (Part 2)

My first day held similarities to the journey I took last time but this time I had a better idea of where I was going allowing me to notice more of the surrounding landscape. I could detach from the rush and worries getting lost in directions or my terrible translation skills to just enjoy what I was seeing. Here is a video of my first day reaching the mountains:

This time I brought my drone with me and although it weighed a ton I was grateful for it as soon as I reached the top! Out I flew the drone from a collection of thick trees and using my phone display navigated my way across the mountains. I couldn't believe the footage I was getting. Mountains stretched into the clouds, even through my phone I could appreciate the beauty. Then suddenly, nothing. My screen went black and wouldn't come back. I tried not to panic. Having lost signal my drone was now miles away out of sight in the clouds and I had no way of knowing where it was.

I did the only thing I could. Using a compass on my phone I flew it towards the direction I thought I was praying it didn't crash into anything along the way. With a cable car and mountains on all sides it could of all turned. After holding my breath for 10 minutes I could eventually hear the propellers somewhere above me. I brought the drone down and back through a narrow opening in the trees to land. Wiping the sweat off my forehead I triumphed once I found all the footage was still there!

Using the extra time I had from not getting lost I learnt more about the history of the yellow mountains pouring my knowledge into my day 1 video. Before I knew it day 2 had arrived. Here's the day 2 video:

I had the chance on this day to explore more of the mountains, going to peaks I hadn't previously visited. The main difference today was the mist. I woke up to find every trail consumed by them and wandering round I was unable to see my hand in front of me. It added mysticism and excitement to my journey navigated the mountain passes as if in a fantasy book.

Finally we come to day 3, here's the video:

I woke up to something I had always wanted to experience in the mountains and one I had talked about during my first trip. I woke up to snow. A blanket had covered the peaks and paths around me making me jump into action heading out as early as possible before others got the same idea. It brought with it that childlike joy of leaping through snow, watching your footsteps and feeling the power in your hands. I climbed to my favourite spot called 'Monkey gazing over a sea of clouds, and looked out into the clouds, snow capped peaks jutting up through them.

After a day on the snowy trails I took the cable car for the first time down to the village at the base of the mountains. The mist still present I couldn't see how far the drop was, holding tight onto the railing as it jostled back and forth. I envisioned it dropping off the cable before plummeting into the caverns below. My fear of planes quite similar.

I survived once again, kissing the ground before heading for the hot springs to warm me up again. I walked on along more trails alone, the other cable car passengers getting a taxi. I came to an old hut where a woman sold me a pair of extortionate swimming trunks quietly laughing at the lost foreigner. The woman, her dog and I walked together through the falling snow to the entrance to the hot springs.

Whilst here I swam among the different pools meeting different locals. I started chatting to a younger group who had seen me up on the mountains the day before and was invited to go for dinner with them. They took me through the local streets and into a great restaurant I would have never found myself. I loaded up on dumplings and noodles while we chatted away to each other. We headed back to a local hostel for the night, playing games of pool with everyone in the hostel common room while drinking some local beer. I stayed up late and made some wonderful friends. My wechat had never been so busy...

In my next blog I head to xi an. The home to the terra cotta army and my first Chinese girlfriend. I had a rather unusual time meeting some great characters and some rather unsavoury ones, but more on that in my next blog...

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