Old favourite!—We’d sort of forgotten about our old Long Way to Catch the Train hike, until Huijie decided to look up our old local contacts and ask about the state of the trail. ‘Rather overgrown’, was the reply, so we spent a day out there with the choppers and cleared the track for a hike … for the first time since 2016!
Why’s it a Long Way to Catch the Train? Before roads were built up into the mountains the villagers of Xi Changyu had to walk for two hours over the mountains to get to the nearest train station. On this hike we’ll follow part of the trail they used to take to catch the train.
We begin with a walk through a small village, following a path up through the fields, under an aqueduct, and slowly climbing as we get closer to the trail that leads up to the ridge.
It will take us approximately forty-five minutes of climbing to reach the saddle on the ridge. We will take a break when we get there, and enjoy the open views on both sides of the ridge. Looking back the way we came we can see hills and valleys stretching towards high mountains in the far distance. Our path onwards leads towards more valleys, rolling hills, and a flat plain.
From the ridge we’ll follow a trail down into a valley, past caves, and alongside a stream. We’ll heading towards the villages of Xi Changyu and Dong Changyu: ‘West Long Valley’ and ‘East Long Valley’. We’ll be following that long valley we’ll follow on the way down and out.
Both villages were clean and well looked after, with many houses built from a distinctive rust-coloured type of stone. We’re saying were well looked after—since our last visit, residents of the valley villages were moved out to a new village at the end of the valley. A few of the houses in the villages might yet be inhabited. The villagers still come up the valley to tend to their orchards.
At the end of the valley we’ll keep hiking, passing peach orchards on the way to the next village. We’ll meet our bus here, and then take a quick drive to a nice picnic spot that will give us views over a big reservoir.
There some interesting buildings built along the lakeside – one, a 5-star hotel that looks like the lair of a James Bond villain, and a collection of smaller buildings, reputedly a ‘retirement’ home for government officials who have been caught doing something they shouldn’t have.