The Most Dangerous Hiking Trail in the World – Mt. Huashan. Now add typhoon-like rains and wind speeds in excess of what must have been 50mph plus and what do you get? An absolute nightmare of a blast….I think….and the kind of danger that warrants the precursor “Now don’t do this at home kids!”
Around and around we go and where we end up nobody knows….is what it felt like on this inexplicable ascent to the unknown. But that’s all I can say about how it felt.
I still can’t process what I did. I can’t process that without sleep and with little to eat I climbed for that long in the pitch black of night with some minor lighting in a storm pelting down on me like stones of hail on steps so thin in places your foot won’t fit on them sideways in between cliffs so narrow only one person can fit at a time. I can’t process that sunrise on East Peak – so opulent and so mystical that a part of you doesn’t dare stare at it because only the holiest of people should be allowed to see something like that. I can’t process that I climbed down the thinnest of thin rails down that cliff face with some 2500 meters between me and the ground and nothing but a carabiner and some plastic or rubber line standing between me and certain death. I can’t process those slow and carefully thought through steps on that rickety plank so deadly with its gnarled bolts and nails in winds so strong that if I let out any breath from my lungs I might become too light and carried off the mountain. I can’t process that one misstep on this unforgiving mountain and it would all have been over. I can’t process the ability I had to elude the sheer terror that should have swallowed me whole like it did in the ocean that day in Roatan. I can’t.
I’ve tried to relive the events of this last 24 hours including how God could and did seat Sam – the one and only person I could and did make it through this with – right next to me on that bus. I’ve tried to process all of it and none of it will come back to me. It’s like the complete opposite of deja vu. Instead of feeling like I’ve done this before, I feel like I never did. There were too many steps, too many dangers, too much rain, too much wind, too much of everything that could have and should have gone wrong but didn’t. I honestly can’t recall even one feeling or thought or even the pain in my muscles or bones. I had them yesterday. Every single step I took was like knives in my hips after the first thousand or so steps up that mountain. I remember saying that to Sam but don’t remember feeling that and if I did, it should still hurt like it has in the past after ferocious climbs I’ve put my body through but nothing. I should feel something spiritually after what I saw but nothing. I should feel pride or gratitude or some kind of emotion but again nothing. Or maybe it’s every pain and every emotion altogether all at once much like how I felt after watching Jake Gyllenhal’s movie Enemy – the whole “Chaos is order yet undeciphered” kind of thing. I just don’t know and certainly don’t know what else to say except I don’t think it ever happened and if there weren’t those photographs proving it did, I think I wouldn’t believe it did happen. Sam witnessed me do it and all 4 peaks at that but he could walk straight up to my face and tell me I did that, we did that, we did that in those conditions, others did it too and there is still a part of me that wouldn’t believe him. I know this makes no sense but because I can’t process it, I can’t really tell you about it. You can go online and see what others said about their journey or read what you are supposed to do on Mt. Huashan at www.travelchinaguide.com. You can do it yourself. I can show you these photographs I took or was in but for some reason I can’t tell you what it was like as I’m not sure who it was that went up there and I’m not sure who it was that came down. Perhaps I fell and just haven’t figured out that I’m dead yet. That’s what it feels like. Perhaps someone ought to pinch me and soon.
So that’s all I have for you from Mt. Huashan – the Most Dangerous Hiking Trail in the world. Absolutely nothing. Crazy huh?