Right, back down the mountain. Stretch out the legs, repack the backpacks. At least today the cable car is nearby…. Well, the good news is that the sun is shining on the glistening snow; the bad news is that the nearest cable car isn’t working and it’s back to the one we came up yesterday. Breakfast went from leisurely to serious carb loading.
Those used to mountains can tell you that going up is easier than going down, especially on the knees (though we can argue with that opinion when we’ve just come up). Given the week’s training ahead, we thankfully made it down without incident and the views in the morning sun were beautiful. We did not stop as often as yesterday but some of the photos are even more spectacular. The snow began to gently melt in the sun and form crazy icicles from the canopied pine trees. I think we have enough photos to start a Christmas card shop in time for next year. I could drone on with descriptions of delicate filigree of ice and snow on the bare tormented branches of the beech trees, but I’ll let you just look at the pictures.
After a grateful lunch, it was time to walk through the old streets of Huangshan city. Endless shops selling calligraphy equipment, paintings, silk shoes and clothes, and antiques with special antique dust on them. Now up the mountain it was well below zero, but down in the town the cold is just penetrating, creeping into your bones and slowly stiffening muscles. Maybe they send you up the mountain first to slow you down enough to browse in the shops, because otherwise you have to powerwalk everywhere just to keep warm.
Dinner was lavish, with lots of chilli to drive out the damp, and beef tendon to repair our muscles and joints. The restaurant seemed to specialise in different types of rice wine, but like good people we stuck to the food – sigh!