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Trekking from Yongsheng village to tiger leaping rock

{a continuation from a hike that begins from Qiaotou}

23 Sept 2019
Yunan, China


The morning weather seemed promising as I looked out of the window, munching on banana pancakes. My eyes were glued to the space in between two forested mountains, where thick fog and mist emerged as if a dragon had breathed out heavy smoke.

I had silently prayed for good weather and turned to face Deidre. She was drinking Tibetan tea (yak butter tea), which I had for yesterday’s lunch and disliked it, only the name differs. We had just checked out from our room and were having breakfast.

There weren’t a lot of people in the dining hall. Just us, the guesthouse staff, and two or three non-hiking guests. Most of the hikers had left early.

I could not finish my pancakes, so I packed them. We refilled our water bottle with free Chinese tea, left our marks on the dining hall wall, and headed out to begin our second-day Tiger Leaping Gorge (TLG) trekking adventure.

Pancake for breakfast.
My graffiti at Tea Horse Guesthouse.

We left the Tea Horse Guesthouse at 8.30am. The guesthouse sits at Yongsheng Village, which was quaintly quiet during our presence.

There weren’t many activities going on except a few local men building a house. Other than that, the sounds of birds chirping, footsteps, wind blowing in the trees, and rustling leaves broke the silences.

We were walking on sealed road. A group of hikers approached from the opposite direction and we exchanged hellos as we walked past each other. The road led to an uphill trail off to the left, which brought us to a scenic view trail.

From here, we walked on flat ground and on long winding trail with rock formation towering on our left, and a deep ravine on our right, overlooking Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and countryside. The pathway was narrow that we imagined ourselves losing balance and falling down the ravine.

We walked past a waterfall. The water was emerald and it flowed down the gorge and into the murky Jinsha river. We stopped several times along this trail to take photos and videos.

At a certain point, we were overtaken by a villager. We followed him until we reached another settlement. The man continued to the right junction and turned to us. I pointed at his direction, to which he responded by pointing left. I gave a thumb up.

We saw a signpost showing us the direction to the popular Halfway Guesthouse. We had reached the Bendiwan Village, in Shangri-La county. Like Yongsheng, Bendiwan village was still.

I didn’t see the locals coming out from the comfort of their abode to mingle with one another, or the local children playing freely with each other. Everyone in this village (and the one before) seemed to be minding their own business.

The village had a few small junctions. Out of curiosity,  we deviated to a corner house and came across a dog chained in a small dirty hut. Opposite it were two pigs, caged. No one was around.

We returned to the main course and passed several guesthouses, which were empty but would be filled with hikers again in the late afternoon.

After one and a half hours, we finally arrived at the Halfway Guesthouse. One needs to pass through here to go to Tina’s Guesthouse, which was our next stop. As the name implies, many hikers opt to stay at Halfway on their first day of trekking to save time.

If you read blogs or watch vlogs about TLG, you will find travellers mentioning Halfway Guesthouse having one of the best toilet views. So, we checked (also because we needed a toilet break) and couldn’t agree more.

Just imagine answering nature’s call in an open cubicle with a mountain forest scenic view and cool air blowing in your face.

We then headed to the Halfway rooftop terrace and rested for a few minutes before proceeding our trekking via the guesthouse backyard, and along the beautiful countryside scenic trail.

One for the road, on the rooftop of Halfway Guesthouse.
Trekking trail to Tina’s Guesthouse.
More mountain goats along the trail.

We passed three or four more waterfalls. There were sections of falling rocks along this trail, indicating the areas are prone to landslide.

From here on, we continued walking on flat ground, going uphill the rocky trail and descended into a meadow, which led to the main road and Tina’s Guesthouse, across it.

General view of the Tiger Leaping Gorge trail.
Catching up with other hikers.
Beautiful canyon valley along the Tiger Leaping Gorge trail.

The guesthouse is where hikers usually stop for lunch before going down to the Jinsha river to see the legendary tiger leaping stone, and also to take a bus to Lijiang or Shangri-La.

We arrived at Tina’s at 12.30pm and were reunited with our Japanese friend Tada, whom we befriended on a bus to Qiaotou. He had just got back from the tiger leaping stone and was waiting for his bus to Shangri-La. Tada had stayed at the Halfway Guesthouse and told us the trekking point to the tiger leaping stone was just a few kilometres away from Tina’s.

At 1.30pm, we bid goodbye to Tada and headed to look for the trekking point. We walked past a bridge and Sunny’s Guesthouse, where the sky ladder is located. The guesthouse operator suggested we get down to the river via his backyard, saying we only need to pay 15 Yuan once.

“If go to the other point, you have to pay twice,” he said.

Cosy and quiet looking Bridge Cafe Guesthouse.
Sunny’s Guesthouse.

I had read that along the trail to the Jinsha river and tiger leaping rock, there would be several huts. Villagers would guard the huts and ask for additional Yuan from hikers if they wish to pass through. This was simply because the land supposedly belonged to the villagers, who claimed to be the ones maintaining the trail down the river.

Because Tada had told us to look for a stone signpost, we continued walking further up the main road and came across one with an entrance trail. There was a money box and a written sign asking visitors to pay 5 Yuan. We did not pay because no one was around. So we explored this route only to find out it did not lead to the river but an observation platform on a cliff.

Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge trail that leads to a cliff observation deck
One for the road,, admiring the view from an observation deck.
Viewing the iconic tiger leaping stone from the observation deck.

We returned to the main road and walked further up until we saw a stone signpost with Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge written on it. Two children, who were playing nearby, ran towards us when we were about to enter the junction trail.

They pointed at a written signboard noting visitors are required to pay 15 Yuan. We paid and continued our trek down the gorge. We passed several empty huts along the trail that took us to the river and the site of the tiger leaping rock, finally.

The rock gets its name based on a legend that says a tiger jumped across the river from the stone to escape from a hunter. When we arrived, the stone site with a narrow hanging bridge was closed for visitors.

So, we went to an adjacent rocky platform that sits steadily on the rapidly moving river water.

Look for this entrance trail to the tiger leaping stone.
Trail to the tiger leaping stone.
Trail to the tiger leaping stone.
The iconic tiger leaping stone. It was closed during our presence.

Standing on this platform, I’d like to think this place was called tiger leaping gorge because of the swift flowing river cutting through rocks that emits powerful sound similar to roaring tigers.

It was indeed a wonderful feeling having to experience such power of nature in this part of the world.

After spending few minutes enjoying the view, we returned to the main road and used the ladder sky to conquer our fear of height. It was raining by the time we arrived at Tina’s Guesthouse, where we spent the night and booked the next day bus to Lijiang at 50 Yuan.

My happy face.
The sky ladder.
Trail leading to Sunny’s Guesthouse.

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