In Zhangjiajie, we walked in the shadow of colossal. Cloud, dappled by overhead trees, fell upon our faces - we shielded our eyes from the sun's occasional bursts of brilliance. Golden Whip Stream shimmered alongside us, awash with golden morning light. Golden carp basked in the rays and bobbed downstream. High above, Zhangjiajie's iconic pinnacles dominated the skyline. They split the humid air, parting the sunlight into angel rays. Below, they cast their great shadows upon the stream below.
Golden Whip Crag is the most famous in Zhangjiajie. It stood alone, set apart from its kin by its impeccable posture. Where most pinnacles were weather-beaten or gnarled, Golden Whip Crag was unwaveringly straight. It is said that though many have tried, none have climbed Golden Whip Crag. The crag seemed to know this too. It seemed to revel in the knowledge, standing so proud and straight. Defying man in a way that even Everest cannot.
Past the stream, the ascents begins in lushious forest. However, beware the 'Red dog' as you journey onwards. A plaque depicts the fearsome animal. It reads:
"Red dog. Looks like dog, but more smaller. Red dog feeds on small to medium sized beasts, such as dog."
It is surely a terrible beast.
If you manage to evade the elusive 'Red dog' and reach the high point of Zhangjiajie, a walkway leads you around the very tops of the pinnacles. Here, you see through the eyes of the mountain. The views are unimaginable; a majestic gorge lined with rows upon rows of heavenly spires; an epic wall of rock splattered with blood-red tearstains; plunging cliffside valleys that mark the edge of the earth and dare you to peer over.
Words & Photography: Scott Norris (@radventuresofficial) // Summer 2016
Access from Wulingyuan township. Buses run there from Zhangjiajie city (12 元, 40mins) They are not numbered and read 武陵源.
Entry to the park is 245元 (standard) 160元 (student >24yrs, pretend driving license is student card for discount).
From the park entrance board a bus bound for Suoxiyu Scenic Zone Office bus stop (索溪峪). See Getting Around Wulingyuan for details.
Accessed from the Suoxiyu Scenic Zone office (the bus stop before Bailong Elevator).
Set off past the maps to the left of the river heading upstream. Follow the river for around two hours until you get to a fork in the road where the left fork is signposted for toilets and goes over a bridge (the right fork is signposted for Huanshi Village). Take the left fork.
Keep left, crossing another bridge, following signs for the toilet.
Continue past the toilet through the arch.
Go left at the fork (with another toilet).
You will come to a large wooden house. Continue up onto the raised platform. This is Echo Valley. Take the staircase to the left.
Continue down the path ignoring the bridge to the right.
Take the left fork to the viewpoint.
Go left at the junction. Here you are making a loop. So be sure to explore the viewpoints along the way.
Go left at the fork.
There is a barricade to the viewpoint called 'topple the mountain and overturn the seas'. This can be climbed over and the viewpoint can be reached with careful navigation. Part of the path has fallen away completely (13/5/16). This route may be repaired or become extremely dangerous with time so be wary and exercise caution.
Go past the map and up the steps, turning left.
At Echo Valley turn left.
At the junction, carry on straight to the right of the bridge. Continue downstream until the bus stop.