Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Friday, January 02, 2009

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Since I had a class on Wednesday night (December 31st), I decided to have a New Year's Day hike instead of a New Year's Eve party. When I brought up the possibility to the gang, I discovered that May had hiked the area I was thinking of several times. I assumed (correctly) that most people would want to sleep in, but you know how it is in China. You invite one or two people, and they invite their friends and their friends friends, who come with their friends. So we managed to gather quite a crew.

It was a beautiful day. I had told everyone to meet at the Lush. Bad choice. I should have known the place would be pretty wasted on the morning of New Year's Day. We were supposed to meet at 8:30, and usually the drunks from the night before are cleared out by then. Not this time. Oh man! But it was OK, because were weren't really planning to eat there. Anyway, we took the 331 to the end of the line at Fragrant Hills, and Michael the Mountain Man met us at the Post Office. We headed out of the village around toward the back end of the park, the road getting steeper as we walked. When we finally got to the trail head, the lady in the high heels breathed a sigh of relief, "Dao le (We're here)!" Not quite, Sister. She soon realized that this was where it really got started. Well, she gave it an honest effort, but she gave up shortly afterward. It was a little troublesome, because the kid who had volunteered to carry her purse for her was way up ahead. I felt sorry for her, but I was glad she quit, because those shoes she was wearing would have been downright dangerous on the steep trail we were on today.

Near the top, the trail meets up with the road. This is where May told me they usually turn back. But I knew Michael had been to the lookout post at the summit several times, so I suggested we go up there. The folks who run the place serve noodles to the hikers. Nothing official--there is no menu or anything--but they do cook up noodles or eggs for a small price. No complaints about the toilets. There weren't any. Michael was showing May a place just below the summit where there was little side trail you could take to some find some measure of privacy. May said, "I'll go later." Ladies have a way of doing that that never ceases to amaze me. But the view of Beijing from up there is quite expansive. And Beijing winters are pretty mild, so as long as the sun is out, just about any day is a nice day for a hike.

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