This hike may be familiar to some of the hikers who’ve been with us for a few years, although parts of it change each time we go. Starting near a former train stop, we retrace the path villagers used to walk as they came to catch the train to other places in China. This time we left the road earlier than usual on as our local guide took us across fields to the village on a new route that would minimize the time spent walking on pavement. We made a brief detour through a village to his home where we all enjoyed some of his delicious pears, which were tart and refreshing. We walked past donkeys milling grain in the village, under an aqueduct and up a valley to a saddle with vistas in both directions: the village from where we started the hike behind us, and our route through another valley ahead of us.
We made our way down the other side of the saddle down a bushy trail to a road at the bottom of the valley. The road led through another two small villages, whose residents greeted us as we passed by. We left the road for a trail that snaked its way up several terraces to another saddle that overlooked an expanse of peach orchards surrounded by mountains soaring dramatically out of the flat ground. After picking a path through the orchards we finally ended up at the local reservoir, where we enjoyed refreshments, the company of several curious puppies, and a view over the water of a 'special retreat' for government officials.
Statistics: 4.5 hours in total, with 3.5 hours of walking at approx. 3.4km/h over approx. 15km; starting height 153m, finish height 221m, highest point 537m (the first ridge), total climbing up 521m, total climbing down 537m. Estimated 1791kCal burned. From the start to the first ridge we walked 6.2km in 1.75 hours, with 382m of climbing to get there.