#GetAtHome in China 3 -Travels through Hunan: The Highest Mountain… Of You County

Climbing Everest would still get you points, ridiculous though it has become (with guides and porters who basically carry not just the gear but even some “climbers” up that veritable Disneyland of a mountain).

But climbing the highest mountain, which isn’t very high, of a rural Chinese county, which is neither big nor home to anything that would give it any claim to fame?

It doesn’t seem very much worth it, in the big picture.

In the picture of a life, though, it may well be the kind of thing most worth it. Something that gets you to… wait for it… #GetAtHome more.

Let’s Go “Climb” Taihexian

My in-laws wanted to entertain me, of course, and they are more than a little willing to go out and “play” themselves. (Chinese has a tendency to label activities done for non-work with the word for “play”.)

Knowing how much I like mountains, they had us head for the highest mountain… in the county in which they live.

At the "country road" where the path up Taihexian begins
At the “country road” where the path up Taihexian begins

It would be utterly, ridiculously, difficult to get here as a visitor without local help, enough money to hire a driver, and more than enough Chinese to tell where you want to go.

Here:

(This map shows the track I recorded on a Casio ProTrek Smart WSD-F20, hiking up the mountain)

All the nicer to have gone there, seen that, experienced just what fascinating activities and sights such an out-of-the-way area has to offer.

Even as a Chinese looking for things to do, you would not likely stumble on mention of Taihexian, the highest mountain of You county.

The Mountain, the Greenery

Yet, Taihexian does rise up from a surrounding area at around 500 meters above sea level to its nearly 1400 meters.

The whole area is quite mountainous, so it is hardly the most noticeable of peaks, but the view is fantastic and the up-and-down, dirt road as the path is, makes for a beautiful activity.

Taihexian. Plant, Path, Panorama
Taihexian. Plant, Path, Panorama

(With the Hunan summer stifling hot as it tends to be, getting up into cooler temperatures and wind is always a little pleasure!)

Interested in hot spices and their cultural and botanical backgrounds, getting here was also great because I got to see a bit of, well, what almost amounts to Hunan wilderness.

There were definitely some areas there where certain trees had been planted to be grown, but there was also much that was growing wild – and that included, just off the path, a small tree that was definitely a relative of Sichuan pepper, fruiting beautifully.

Zanthoxylum sp.
Zanthoxylum sp.

The seed heads of that kind of Zanthoxylum were very interestingly packed into tight clusters, the red shine of them was all the more noticeable for that – and some bugs also seemed to take a shine to that. What I had taken to be more of the plant’s black seeds turned out to actually be the spots on those bugs’ wing covers.

We also saw wild kiwi…

Taihexian Kiwi
Taihexian Kiwi

The Most Local, Rural Temple I Ever Saw in China

The mountain is not only anchoring some antenna, it is also home to a local temple which gives quite the different experience from anything I have ever experienced.

The Temple on Taihexian
The Temple on Taihexian

Temples on peaks are not exactly uncommon in China, but then they are – or, they are known when they are – on sacred mountains.
Thus, they are highly regarded, built up into tourist sights, and visited by millions.

The temple on Taihexian is the opposite of known.

It seems to be old, it is obviously still being visited at times, but it is also local as can be. Down to the statues/gods inside of it being outright rustic…

'Deities' in Taihexian
‘Deities’ in Taihexian

I wish I could tell you much more, but I can only give you more impressions, same as I had.

Even when we visited a temple closer by our home and with a certain claim to fame, and even known to exist by TripAdvisor, knowledge about it still proved quite lacking…

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