Mount Hua

We were going to Mount Hua! Fast forward to Xi'an about 7 days later and we're getting up early to get to the bus station. Our attempt to find the right bus that would take us to Huashan got off to a rocky start. After navigating through the hordes of people at the bus station, showing pictures of the mountain on Katie's phone and using our very limited amount of Chinese, we got on the correct bus and started towards the Mount Hua. 2 hours later we arrived at what I would call the Welcome Center and ticket entrance. Once inside we deciphered that we needed to buy a ticket to get on another bus to bring us to the base of the gondola as well as purchase a ticket for the gondola itself. From there it was confusing as to where we had to go to catch the bus, but ended up finding it because we had to use the bathroom and it was right next to the door we needed to go out. Lucky us!
A twisty, turny bus ride and a hike up a massive amount of stone stairs leading to the ticket booth of Huashan and then up some more stairs (I've never climbed more stairs than I have the 10 days I spent in China) and we boarded the gondola. After a brief alli-oop over a rock face we were given a vista that took my breath away. Craggy mountains speckled green, surrounded by mid-morning mist. In that moment I understood why the Chinese consider Mount Huashan one of the 5 sacred mountains, there was an otherworldly power there that is impossible to describe. During our 12 kilometer ride we bobbed up and over parts of Huashan that jutted up towards the sky. Below we saw the cliffside path that leads to the peak Mount Hua, unoccupied and seemingly lonely. At one point during the ride we flew over small huts surrounded by gardens on the clif side, occupied by villagers. It is a wonder how their homes are able to withstand the wind that whip through the mountains. Nearing the end of our journey the gondola's wire lead into the mountain Hua. The station was carved into the side of the mountain and swallowed us as we entered. Stepping out of the shelter of the car wind engulfed us and there was an instant chill. We put on thermal layers and jackets and our journey continued.
Huashan has 5 peaks and we knew The Plank Walk in the Sky was located near the South Peak, so we soldiered on climbing higher and higher. Red fabric was tied to metal posts and chains along drop offs to keep visitors away from the edge. The cloth blew in the wind creating a sound of birds wings flapping. In addition, shiny gold locks covered the chains to symbolize good luck. Further and further we climbed. A large boulder appeared and as we turned the corner we spotted the South Peak right in front of us surrounded with locks and streaming red pixels. We stood on one of the highest peaks in China, nothing but smiles.