Sunday, July 17, 2016

Yunmengshan National Forest Park Journey

5:45 a.m. - My alarm rings.
5:49 a.m. - I struggle out of bed; all throughout the school year, rising at this time would be no problem at all, but now, during summer vacation...
6:17 a.m. - I exit my apartment and mount my bike, which was accidentally left out in the rain the previous day.

6:24 a.m. - My damp bike deposits me at Wangjing Subway Station, where I grab a train heading north on Line 15.
6:41 a.m. - After arriving at Houshayu Station, I head out Exit C, cross the street, and wait for the 936 bus.
6:48 a.m. - Tired of waiting after only seven minutes, I board the 31 bus, which I think is a bus I need to ride later in my journey.
6:49 a.m. - Upon checking my directions and the 31 bus's route map, I realize it is not at all a bus I want.
6:57 a.m. - Bus 31 leaves me at some random bus stop.
7:04 a.m. - I board the next bus that comes and head back to Houshayu Station.
7:18 a.m. - The wait for the 936 bus at Houshayu resumes.

7:41 a.m. The 936 bus arrives and I board the crap out of it, ecstatic.

8:57 a.m. - I leap out of the 936 at Yanqizhen Station in Huairou, ecstatic to get off it.
9:06 a.m. - The h11 bus arrives, and I board it.

9:29 a.m. - The h11 bus reaches Liujiadian Station, which can hardly be called a station, and I leap off the bus, excited about not having to ride or wait for any more buses for several hours. I begin walking up a deserted, wet road.
9:35 a.m. - I blow the first of several hundred snot rockets. 
10:01 a.m. - After a brief monetary transaction outside the park headquarters, a ticket to Yunmengshan National Forest Park - 云蒙山国家森林公园 - arrives in my trembling hand.
10:11 a.m. - I reach the trailhead at the park after having purchased some bottles of water. The entrance to the path looks green, dark, and irresistibly inviting.

10:12 a.m. - I start to sweat.
10:15 a.m. - I arrive at the first hill's crest, panting heavily, awash in perspiration, wishing I had brought bug repellent and a backpack that distributed the weight from my bag more evenly. Woof.

10:22 a.m. - The first of four misty springs beckons me from the main path. I cave and deviate from the main path for twenty minutes.
10:38 a.m. - I pass a dawdling couple.
10:41 a.m. - The main trail takes a sharp, unrelenting turn upward into the dark green and the misty gray.

11:14 a.m. - A mass of cloudy goodness starts swirling among the peaks I'd been admiring between painful gasps for air.

11:52 a.m. - I pass a family - a father, mother, young daughter, and grandma - and think, "What time did they start their journey up here?"

12:04 p.m. - The trail - previously somewhat undesirable stone 'n' concrete - becomes wooden stairs 'n' railing. Hmm.
12:09 p.m. - A group of twenty college-aged dudes who are coming down from the top passes me silently.
12:10 p.m. - It begins to rain lightly. This continues for the next three hours.
12:11 p.m. - I reach the 1,413rd meter of the mountain...its summit. There are five men (of an age that makes me think that they should be at their jobs, not climbing a mountain)(but maybe they had the same thought about me) and a tiny little shack on the platform atop Yunmengshan.
12:15 p.m. - The five men leave; I sit in the shack and eat my crappy lunch as the clouds grow thicker and thicker below the peak.
12:23 p.m. - I rise from my spot of rest to snap some shots of the view from the top but soon realize all I can see is a wall of cloud, one that would cover the tops of Yunmengshan's fellow hills for the next - you guessed it - three hours.

12:57 p.m. - The family I passed earlier arrives at the summit platform. I depart via a different route than that which brought me up.
1:19 p.m. - Without having to leave the trail, I urinate for the first time since leaving my apartment and, smiling, ruminate upon how the advantages of unpopulated hiking trails are many.

1:54 p.m. - The trail finally morphs back from wooden stairs 'n' railing to the slightly more authentic stone 'n' concrete.
2:23 p.m - I urinate a second time. My inner processes are normalizing as the downward trek has resulted in less sweat and more water intake by my body.

2:34 p.m. - The rain's steady pattering increases to more of a battering as I, cursing my failure to ring a raincoat, leave the helpful cover of the forest trees.
2:58 p.m. - I stop under an awning near the trailhead and pray that the rain will let up.
3:10 p.m. - The rain begins to let up. I resume my descent.
3:23 p.m. - I get off the trail and back on the concrete, heading toward where the h11 bus can pick me up and take me back to warm civilization.

3:45 p.m. - Dogs bark at me as I pass. I bark back.

3:57 p.m. - I reach the h11 bus stop.
4:06 p.m. - The h11 arrives and I board it happily and fearlessly.

4:37 p.m. - I leap heroically and bravely off the h11.
4:39 p.m. - The 936 arrives, and I jump swiftly and gallantly onto it. Something that I don't understand and ignore is said as the other passengers-to-be and I board.

5:01 p.m. - The 936 pulls into the Huairou bus station, sixty kilometers from where it should be stopping in Beijing, at Dongzhimen Station. What the bus driver said as I boarded the 936 materializes in a flash of understanding.
5:03 p.m. - Another bus bound for Beijing pulls up, which I board valiantly and boldly and grab a seat in.

5:25 p.m. - The dude next to me gives up his seat for a family with two small toddlers; one toddler sits in the vacated seat while the family towers over him and me.
5:26 p.m. - I give my seat to the other small toddler, hoping that the bus will arrive in Beijing very soon.

6:16 p.m. - The bus stops in Sanyuanqiao, and I get off and walk to Homeplate.
6:58 p.m. - A huge plate of chili cheese fries and cheeseburger madness arrives in front of me.
7:32 p.m. - I leave Homeplate via bus to get my bike and go home.
8:40 p.m. - I enter my apartment, collapse on the rug in the living room, and die peacefully.

And it was good. The more of these types of the days, the better.



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