Friday, October 11, 2019

Xianggong Mountain and Cuiping Mountain, China: October 11, 2019


We were up very early so we could get to the gate for the pathway to the top of Xianggong Mountain when it opens at 4:30 am. The pathway zigzags up mostly lighted stone steps. The community made the pathway and also maintains the entrance gate at village level. There is a small entrance fee at the gate. We all paid an extra 100 yuan (less than $15 US) for porters to carry our backpacks/tripods up to the top. The advantage is not only is it easier for us to walk up that steep path without the extra weight, but the porters set up your tripod and guard the space until you arrive. We were on the top before 5:00 am and sunrise was 6:16 am. Not too long after our arrival at the top we realized how much of an advantage that guarded space was. There are five levels at the top from photographers can photograph the landscape below. We were on the top level. It was still dark, but as more and more people arrived at the top, we felt the press of the crowd behind us. 



The time for sunrise (6:16 am) arrived, but we didn't see the sun until it cleared the wall of fog.


The left photo was taken when it was still dark while the photo on the right was taken after the sun cleared the wall of fog.

The four levels below
We stayed on waiting for the fog to burn off to get a better view of the Li River.


With or without a sunrise or sun, this landscape is magical. It was spectacular watching the fog change the view as it lifted. The landscape morphed into a Chinese watercolor painting. This area hasn't had rain since July, but it did rain the day before we arrived. The recent rain created the fog.


After the sun finally made it appearance, most of the crowds departed. We stayed hoping to capture the Golden Phoenix image. Every morning around 7:40 am River Police in a speedboat make their way along the river and other boats follow. When conditions are right, meaning sun, the speedboat wake creates a "Golden Phoenix" in the water. The boat's wake becomes the wings of the mythical bird. There was a golden patch of sun on the Li River, but the boat was late. By the time the River Police speedboat came through, the phoenix was only silver.
The Silver Phoenix



Breakfast was worth waiting for. It was a large bowl of broth and noodles together with vegetables topped with a fried egg. This was my favorite thing to have each morning, and coffee really doesn't complement its flavors. Breakfast, napping, lunch, more napping before heading out for a late afternoon photo shoot. It involved a shorter, steeper climb, carrying our gear ourselves, to the top of Cuiping Mountain (Five-Fingered Mountain) to watch the sun set over the lush valley.





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