China-2023 – Enshi’s cliffs and their crazy paths!

Enshi Grand Canyon – done. Enshi cliffs (set back a short distance along the canyon) – coming right up!… ->

Oh my Grand-Canyon! Is that a footpath attached to that cliff face? I believe it is. Good gracious me. We gotta have walkies along that! My first thought though was how we were going to get up to the path in the first place…

Ah – good old Chinese tourist infrastructure… – I should have guessed: there’s a cable car goes up to it! ->

Yet again – zero lines ) ->

Off we go!…

And here’s the view from up top:

The length of the cable car is approximately 2300 meters, while it carries folks up the vertical some 800 (source). And, talking of distance, we covered plenty on this day (and it was supposed to be our warm-up!). Between 18 and 20 kilometers were walked, while some 400 to 500 meters were ascended/descended along the vertical. Woah. Accordingly, given that no one in our group put any training in to prepare for physical endurance tests such as this, most of said group come evening were exhausted and sore. Still, it could have been worse: the paths might not have been excellent: smooth, in places with steps, sturdy fences, and with plenty of benches along the way. Perfect.

Quite how they managed to install safety fences in some places I do not know. Chinese ingenuity, I guess! ->

…But install them they sure did – everywhere! ->

I say everywhere; there are exceptions! ->

If you get too tired with all the steep steps – there’s always the lazy-bones’ take-it-easy option ->

Everything clearly signposted ->

Beware of cyber-baddies! ->

Public conveniences! ->

As to food options along the route – there were plenty, as is the norm at Chinese tourist attractions. I told those in our group who were in China for the first time not to fill up their rucksacks with sandwiches and snacks, as I knew there’d be a café or a fast-food joint every 500 meters or so. But that turned out to be incorrect: it was more like every hundred meters here! Overkill? Seemed so with so few tourists about. But I guess every eatery is busy in peak season. Our fave snack along the way, btw, was corn-on-the-cob: Simply delicious! ->

We ate our corn-on-the-cobs as we walked, and before we’d finished – another eatery! ->

Second course! Yum! ->

Onward; upward! And near the very top of the mountain – labyrinth rock formations ->

…+ masterpiece panoramic views ->

Next, another narrow gorge awaits us – fully secured against falling rocks (with wire netting) and with plenty of cameras fitted here and there for the security folks to keep an eye on things ->

Mercifully, we went down the steps, not up. This pic was taken looking back up the crevice:

Finally – we make it to the path attached to the side of the cliff face that we saw from down in the valley. O h    m y    g o o d n e s s ! ! ! ->

It goes without saying – not for those who fear heights! ->

There’s the Grand Canyon – bottom left, running left to right, with the elevator half-way along it:

It was suggested we go and investigate this intriguing site, known to be of touristic interest, but in the end we decided against. Onward – along the cliff-face path!… ->

Sure, you do think, “what if the path collapses?” But you simply need to banish such thoughts, placing your faith in modern Chinese engineering ).

In this pic you can see the concrete supports underneath the path. I wonder how they installed those?! ->

Wowee! ->

Chinese tourists are loving it too ->

This spike and ring suggests this isn’t the first incarnation of a cliff-face path. It looks like a previous one was a suspended path! ->

After a while – to the relief of many in our group – we get back onto a regular, ground-based path. Btw, there’s another route around this mountain – round the back – which does away with the dizzying cliff-hugging thing, but whose views are apparently less spectacular. There are also a few different paths in the same general direction – I reckon for those who want to avoid the crowds in peak season ->

But we stick to the main path, which again takes on a cliff-face stance ->

Elephant mountain? ->

Turns out… ->

Suddenly! ->

I can just imagine how crowded it gets here, but today – almost empty!

We wanted to be going upward on that path there, but we were being shepherded downward! ->

But it turned out that’s a new path, whose construction hasn’t yet been completed; rather – the path looks like it’s about ready, and it just needs a bridge here:

This is how things should look when completed:

Onward we march…

How do trees grow up there? How does soil get there?! ->

That’s where we were that morning ->

We head back down, our legs really starting to feel it…

We descend a full 800 meters along the vertical. Sounds easy, right, being downhill and all? It ain’t; not after 20km of trekking up and down all day. And we felt it most in the knees.

Half-way down there was a loud announcement (in Chinese, of course) stating that we need to hurry – since there’s sometimes rockfall around here. Hardly reassuring. Still – it did we stop us fretting about our sore knees and increased our tempo. Btw: the announcement came out of loudspeakers – like this one in a plastic bag to keep the rain off:

We break into a quick trot, but no rockfall was encountered. Onward – downward, our aching knees once again reentering our consciousness, when… suddenly! ->

Hurray – escalator! But not just any old escalator: only the longest cascade of escalators in the whole of Asia! Indeed – apparently 688 meters long, covering an altitude of 218 meters, which saves you the 2378 “manual drive” steps!

Well this was a first – going down a mountain side on an escalator! ->

Here’s another first – seeing a fruit like this one. What is it?!  ->

And that was that – the first day of tourism on our China-2023 trip was almost over. I hope there wasn’t too much info – or pics, because… get ready… there’s a lot more to come!…

The rest of the photos from our China-2023 vacation are here.

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    Robert Ferraro

    The fruit looks like it be from a tree in the Magnolia family. There are many different types in China. Not edible for humans.

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