Taking Hiking to the Next Level: the Very Dangerous Huashan Trail in China

Hiking is not an activity that appeals to everyone, but hiking enthusiasts will tell you that the best way to explore a place, a natural wonder, or an interesting attraction is on foot. Travelling by car, motorbikes, or even simply a bike doesn’t excite you the way hiking does. The liberty to chart your own course, the excitement of discovering new paths and walkways, the thrill of finding out what awaits you around the next corner – yup, nothing comes close to hiking! For those who wish to take their hiking experiences to the next level, you may want to try the Huashan mountain trail in Shaanxi province, China. Although this trail shares some of the most wonderful sites of ancient Taoist temples and of course, natural beauty with its travelers, the most significant thing about it is the hike up to the summit, which is considered to be one of the most dangerous trails in the world. Nothing less than your life is at stake here as you attempt to conquer this perilous mountain. The Huashan Mountain is made up of five peaks, which when observed from a specific angle, reminds you of a flower, or “hua” as they call it in Chinese. The five peaks are the Facing Sun Peak, or East Peak; the Jade Maiden Peak or Middle Peak, the Lotus Peak or West Peak, the Cloud Terrace Peak or North Peak and the South Peak, which happens to be not just the tallest but also the most dangerous of all five peaks. Climbing Mount Huashan doesn’t require so many special equipments as it does incredible skill and of course, loads of good luck on your side. It isn’t called the “Number One Precipitous Mountain under Heaven” for nothing. Apart from the pilgrims who undertake this dangerous journey and survive solely on the basis of blind faith, this hiking trail is a huge favorite with daredevils at the peak of their youth and blinded by the feeling of invincibility. Unfortunately, such reckless bravado has often lead to fatal accidents, as many as a hundred allegedly, which owing to Chinese censorship, have not been recorded officially. Although the entire journey can be classified as one of those feats you carry out to defy death and laugh in its face, the most treacherous, not to mention nerve-racking, part of the hike is the “Changong Zhandao” a 13 feet long plank path laid along an almost vertical cliff, measuring only a foot in width. Just 1 foot wide! A single false step and you go hurtling down the abyss. How’s that for kicks? As a safeguard, it’s best to carry a mountain climbing harness with you to strap yourself to the chain that runs along this path. If you wish to enjoy the view from the North Peak without gambling your life, you could always take a cable car up, snap a couple of pictures, strike a few pretty poses, and make your way down safely again. But, I am sure, someone out there is wondering to himself, “Where’s the fun in that?”
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