a fog-enshrouded day along zhangjiajie’s golden whip stream

Saturday, January 24:  Our next two days at Zhangjiajie National Forest Park are to prove incredibly disappointing because of steady rain, heavy fog, and biting cold.  We are barely able to see the beautiful karst formations on the first day, and on the second day, when we climb to the higher elevations, we are often not able to see anything at all.  In some spots, all we see is a bank of white fog without even an outline of the mountains that are beautifully pictured on placards.

The entrance to Zhangjiajie Global Geopark

The entrance to Zhangjiajie Global Geopark

the view beyond the crowds of tourists

the view beyond the crowds of tourists

Outside of the park entrance, we are greeted by vendors selling cheap ponchos and shoe covers.   We each buy a poncho, me blue and Mike yellow.  I buy a pair of plastic camouflage-patterned shoe covers for my tennis shoes; Mike doesn’t because he has good waterproof hiking boots. I come quickly to regret this decision.

me in several layers of clothes as well as a big blue poncho and some camouflage-colored shoe covers

me in several layers of clothes as well as a big blue poncho and some camouflage-colored shoe covers

Inside the gate, we’re greeted on the walkway by the monkeys that occupy the park.  They congregate where the tourists do, in hopes of getting some snack food, which they most certainly do.  Chinese tourists love to share junk food with animals of all sorts.

one of the many monkeys in Zhangjiajie

one of the many monkeys in Zhangjiajie

According to China Highlights: Zhangjiajie, Zhangjiajie sits in the west of Hunan Province, 330 kilometers from Changsha, the capital of the province, and over 1,000 kilometers from both Shanghai and Beijing.  The park is famous for its precarious peaks, limpid streams, dense forests, and large karst caves. In 1982, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park became China’s first national forest park.

Zhangjiajie was the inspiration for James Cameron’s movie Avatar. The park is known for its stone pillars that reach over 1km in height and resemble the ones seen in the movie; I haven’t seen the movie myself. The area has approximately 3,000 tall quartzite sandstone pillars.  These are different from the karst formations in Guilin, which are limestone.

According to Wikipedia: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park: Although resembling karst terrain, this area is not underlain by limestones and is not the product of chemical dissolution, which is characteristic of limestone karst. They are the result of many years of physical, rather than chemical, erosion. Much of the weathering which forms these pillars are the result of expanding ice in the winter and the plants which grow on them. The weather is moist year round, and as a result, the foliage is very dense. The weathered material is carried away primarily by streams. These formations are a distinct hallmark of Chinese landscape, and can be found in many ancient Chinese paintings.

We are advised by Donald, an English-speaking Chinese manager at the Hotel Pullman, to take a 5 km walk today along Golden Whip Stream, since it will be raining all day.  I’m interested in going to the higher elevations, but we’ll wait until tomorrow in hopes that the rain and fog will clear so we can enjoy the views. Golden Whip Stream is in Jinbianxi Canyon, a deep canyon surrounded by cliffs and peaks.  A sign at the park says the distance from the peaks to the valley bottom is 350-500 meters and the width of the valley base is 30-80 meters.

Golden Whip Stream

Golden Whip Stream

More monkeys are in the trees around us.  This mother is holding her baby close.

monkeys at Zhangjiajie

monkeys at Zhangjiajie

We can see some beautiful peaks along our walk, peaks with names such as Golden Whip Crag and Splitting Mountain to Save Mother, among others.  They’re enshrouded in fog.

 

peaks along Golden Whip Stream

peaks along Golden Whip Stream

Zhangjiajie's poetic peaks

Zhangjiajie’s poetic peaks

mystical peaks

mystical peaks

Limestone karst formations at Zhangjiajie

Limestone karst formations at Zhangjiajie

peaks through the trees

peaks through the trees

As we walk along the stream, it feels like my feet are getting colder and colder.  They even feel like they’re wet, but how can they be?  I have those plastic shoe covers on.  I inspect my shoes and find that water has collected on the plastic shoe covers and is seeping into my shoes.  They are soaked through and through.  I take off the shoe covers, realizing too late that I would have been better off without them.  My feet are soaked and will be for the rest of the day.

the walkway along Golden Whip Stream

the walkway along Golden Whip Stream

Even with all the layers of clothes, I am shivering, and now with wet feet, I feel even colder.  But of course, we’re here to enjoy the walk and we must complete the 5km long path.  There’s no easy way out to return to the hotel to change my shoes as there are no cars or roads along this trail.

views along the stream

views along the stream

Golden Whip Stream

Golden Whip Stream

I try to look cheery even though I'm cold and miserable and disappointed.

I try to look cheery even though I’m cold and miserable and disappointed. (Photo by Mike)

Every once in a while we get a glimpse of color through the fog, and I foolishly hope that the fog will lift.  It doesn’t.

misty views

misty views

looming tower of Golden Whip Crag

looming tower of Golden Whip Crag

Closer view of Golden Whip Crag

Closer view of Golden Whip Crag

More pinnacles

More pinnacles

towering pinnacles

towering pinnacles

Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie

Some of the peaks have interesting names.  This one is Splitting Mountain to Save Mother.

Splitting Mountain to Save Mother

Splitting Mountain to Save Mother

I wonder what they look like on a sunny blue-sky day?

I wonder what they look like on a sunny blue-sky day?

Golden Whip Stream

Golden Whip Stream

Golden Whip Stream

Golden Whip Stream

Another pinnacle along Golden Whip Stream

Another pinnacle along Golden Whip Stream

How would you like to try to climb one of these?

How would you like to try to climb one of these?

After all our walking, we’re getting quite hungry.  We come upon a little set of food stalls in the middle of nowhere and we stop for a snack of corn on the cob and boiled eggs.

Lunchtime!!

Lunchtime!!

We continue on our walk through more of the valley.  The views would all be amazing if they weren’t so obscured by fog. I love how the Chinese give such interesting names to mountains.  Along this trail, we see: Monkey Playing in the Chinese Yew Grove, Master and Apprentice Journey to the West, Pigsy Looking in the Mirror, Two Turtles Peeking at the Stream, Rabbit Watching Moon, Soldiers Gathering and Candle Peak.

Luckily, it has stopped raining by now, but my feet are still wet and I’m shivery cold.

The end of the trail deposits us at a parking lot in front of a little museum.  We wander about inside looking at the exhibits describing the karst formation at Zhangjiajie. We’re also hoping to get warm here, but no such luck; the building isn’t heated.

We take a small bus to another part of the park where you can take a train for some more views.  This is called the Long Gallery.  Some of the peaks which we can barely see here are called Her Collecting Old Man, Three-Sisters Peaks, and The God of Longevity Welcoming Guests.  Our views are even more hazy on this train ride.

When we get back to our hotel, I’m happy to take off my wet shoes and to take a long hot soak in that bathtub, drinking a glass of wine in the steaming water.  I can open the slatted doors and chat with Mike in the room.  It’s lovely.  Then we treat ourselves to a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Hotel Pullman restaurant

Hotel Pullman restaurant

Mike orders steamed broccoli and gets a huge plate of it.

Mike orders steamed broccoli and gets a huge plate of it.

Me at dinner.  I order a plate of spring rolls.

Me at dinner. I order a plate of spring rolls.

Donald, an English-speaking manager at the Hotel Pullman, has been super friendly and helpful to us.  As we only have one more day in Zhangjiajie, we ask him if we can hire a guide for the day to take us to the higher elevations.  He arranges the guide for us, even though we all know that another rainy and foggy day is forecast for tomorrow and our chances of seeing anything are slim to none.

This is Donald

This is Donald

If you want to see some pictures of how this park looks in beautiful weather, I suggest you drop by to visit China Nomads: The Karst Peaks of Zhangjiajie.

Advertisements
Categories: Asia, China, Golden Whip Stream, Hotel Pullman Zhangjiajie, Hunan, Jianbianxi Canyon, Travel, Wulingyuan Scenic Reserve, Zhangjiajie, Zhangjiajie Global Geopark, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park | Tags: , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Post navigation

19 thoughts on “a fog-enshrouded day along zhangjiajie’s golden whip stream

  1. Even through the damp these photos are spectacular, Cathy! The mists lend them an ethereal quality, though of all people I do know how miserable it can be with no sun and wet feet! 🙂 What an incredible place. I would so love to see it. I loved the movie Avatar too 🙂
    Oh, well- off to prepare Sunday lunch and do the ironing. Hugs, darlin’. Enjoy the rest of your last day off 🙂

    Like

    • I’ll show some photographs in my next post (not mine but in a gallery at the park) that show how the mist really SHOULD look to give that mystical quality, Jo. This to me was so depressing. It’s quite an ordeal to get to Zhangjiajie, but if I could do it, I’d make the trip again if a sunny weekend was forecast. 🙂

      Like

      • I imagine it’s pretty often a damp experience. Never mind- it’s one more that you’ve had on this amazing journey. Have a happy week, Cathy 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What an amazing place Cathy, even in the mist, maybe even more so in the mist it looks ethereal and out of this world. What a disappointment the weather was though. Avatar had such amazing scenery and special effects I loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The mist looks better, Pauline, when there are just strands of mist curled around the mountains. I’ve seen such pictures and that’s what I was hoping for. Oh well, it was a real disappointment. I really need to see Avatar. Then I’m sure I’d want to go back to see how it looks in better weather. 🙂

      Like

  3. The fog really adds an air of mystery to this stunning scenery. Lovely photos.

    Like

    • Thanks so much, Carol, for the encouragement. I’ve seen stunning pictures where strands of mist are curled around the mountains, with blue skies behind. I was hoping for that but didn’t get it. I’m really temped to go back spontaneously if I see a good forecast, although it’s quite a hassle to get here. 🙂

      Like

  4. Must be stunning in the sun and the mist does create mystical images, but I think I may have given up and gone back to the hotel long before you did!

    Like

    • I might have gone back to the hotel, Jude, but as it was a 5 km walk, you either had to go back to the beginning or finish it out. There wasn’t really any other choice. The next day, as you will see, was even worse. So disappointing for what is really such a beautiful place. I never imagined we’d have fog like this that wouldn’t enable us to see anything. 😦

      Like

  5. Just had a flick through the link you provided – in the sun this region looks similar to a cross between the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon – have you been to those places? Cute monkeys too 🙂

    Like

  6. You did better than I would have and the photos are cool!

    Like

  7. I can just imagine how disappointed you must have been – the one chance to visit and there’s fog and cold and wet feet. Yikes….but you are a trooper and still got a few really nice pictures. Your experience reminds me of the time when my husband and I drove along coastal route one in California. The fog was so dense, we couldn’t see anything. Luckily, it was sunny the next day, so we back-tracked and it turned out to be the most beautiful stretch of coastline.

    Like

    • I know, Annette, you don’t imagine fog being the thing that can ruin a visit to a place. It never even entered my mind. I just figured that oh well, if it rained, I’d deal with it, and if it was cold I’d deal with it. But I don’t know why, I never imagined fog being the problem. It was very disappointing and the next day even more so! Poor Mike, he traveled all the way to China for two weeks and he got horrible weather for all but two days. When my son Alex came, we went to Yunnan, where it was sunny every day, and then I went on to Myanmar, where I had all blue skies. 🙂

      Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Japan Wonders

Exploring Japan's popular tourist spots and off-the-beaten path

A lot from Lydia

You can learn a lot from Lydia...(It's a song, not a promise.)

Ink Arts by Carol

My site for offering my alcohol ink arts

I see Beauty everyday

Blessed be the ones that see beauty where others see nothing

BOOKING IT

Debra's Excellent Adventures in Reading and Travel

Marsha Ingrao

Traveling & Blogging Near and Far

PIRAN CAFÉ

Notebooks from a trampfest. Travel tips, tales and images, online since 2006.

Word Wabbit

Wrestless Word Wrestler

Cardinal Guzman

Encyclopedia Miscellaneous - 'quality' blogging since August 2011

A Faraway Home

Stories and tips from home and far away

Pit's Fritztown News

A German Expat's Life in Fredericksburg/Texas

Under a Cornish Sky

inspired by the colours of the land, sea and sky of Cornwall

sloveniangirlabroad.wordpress.com/

A blog about expat life and travel adventures written by an Slovenian girl living in Switzerland

Let Me Bite That

Can I have a bite?

Running Stories by Jerry Lewis

Personal blog about running adventures

Finding NYC

exploring New York City one adventure at a time

The World according to Dina

Notes on Seeing, Reading & Writing, Living & Loving in The North

snippetsandsnaps

Potato Point and beyond

Storyshucker

A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

The Eye of a Thieving Magpie

My view of this wonderful and crazy life - as I travel and explore.

renateflynn.wordpress.com/

A (Mostly) Solo Female Exploring the World

NYLON DAZE

From London to New York, living in an expat daze

Blue Hour Photo Workshops

Photography is a constant travel to new places

Travel Much?

Never cease to explore and tell!

%d bloggers like this: