Our ascent up Mt. Tai'Shan
After visiting the Confucius mansion, the group and I traveled to Tai'an and got some dinner. After eating dinner we went to our hotel, which we were all pretty happy about.
We turned the TV on and surfed through the channels to see what sort of Chinese shows were on. We saw this funny show that consisted of dogs walking tight ropes over a lake to try to make it to the other side. It was like a dog obstacle course. We thought that was pretty entertaining.
That night a few of my group members and I went out to see the city of Tai'an. I don't know if we went the wrong way or what, but there wasn't really much going on in the place. After feeling defeated, we went back to our hotels and got some rest considering we had to be up at 6 a.m. the next morning.
We woke up and got some breakfast. Many of us felt pretty tired and thought the task of climbing about 4,000 steps seemed pretty daunting. Daunting as it was, I was really excited for it!
I love outdoorsy things like that.
We took a short bus ride to the mountain and got a few pictures from the bottom. There was an option to climb the entire mountain, which would take more than four hours, or to start from the halfway point that would take a little more than two hours.
It was decided for us we'd start from the halfway point, so we got a shuttle bus ride up to the middle. This was probably the craziest bus ride I've ever taken. There were so many curves, and the driver just whipped it around each one of them checking the bubble mirrors in every corner to assure there wasn't another bus descending that would smash into us (I hope he was checking them anyway!)
We finally arrived at the halfway point and our journey was about to begin.
After agreeing on meeting at that same point if we got separated, we all took off up our first flight of steps. Even from the very beginning, I noticed exhausted travelers coming back down the mountain. I wondered how I would feel afterwards.
Immediately shops sprang up on the side of the trail where travelers could get souvenirs, drinks, or food. There's always someone trying to sell you something here! As we walked I was really curious to find out what the most amount of steps were in a row.
It started rather modestly such as maybe 20 to 30 steps in a row, followed by a larger flat area for rest. There were plenty of places to take pictures along the way. We were fortunate for the day we went out turned out to be a beautiful day.
Though people kept mentioning coats, I was happy to discover that board shorts and T-shirt was plenty enough to keep me warm.
After tons of pictures, plenty of times to stop and enjoy the view, and a few snacks, we were almost there. I kept thinking I had found the biggest amount of steps, and then I'd find more.
My record started with 95, then 147, then 250, then finally the biggest count I got was 487. Of course it was the absolute last set of stairs.
The final challenge
I was determined to start from the bottom and walk all the way up without stopping at all. I did it, but man were my quads burning afterwards. It was exhilarating to say the least!
After relishing our victory for a few minutes, we met up with some of our other group members and talked for a few minutes. There was a lot to see at the top of the mountain, so we walked around a bit, enjoyed the view, and took as many pictures as we could.
Some of the group wanted to walk back down and others took the gondola down. I was sort of torn between which route to take, because I figured the gondola down would expose some beautiful views as well.
Jake (MacLean) and I wanted the satisfaction of having climbed up and then back down, so we decided to trek it back down.
Walking up was one thing but walking down was completely different. It took the muscles in my legs a good 300 steps to become accustomed to walking down rather than up. Jake and I shared good conversation the whole way down, and it was equally as exhilarating as walking up was.
We came across a Daoist man on the way down who lived in a cave on the side of the mountain trail. He was an older man with very long gray hair.
Immediately after we caught his eye, he wanted to shake our hands. As soon as I grasped his hand he pulled me closer for a hug. It was a bit odd, but I rolled with it.
The man hugged me and patted me for a long as I allowed him. After this extended hug, he lifted me up off the ground. Jake and I thought this was hilarious, so we got a few pictures. After the man took turns hugging and lifting us both, we were back off down the mountain. As we walked we laughed for a good 10 minutes about our odd encounter.
Finally, we reached the bottom of the mountain and met with the rest of our group. Everyone seemed rather tired but happy at the same time. I felt like it was a great accomplishment to have climbed the mountain.
It was really an amazing day.
Another thing I thought to be amazing was that our guide, Kevin (his English name of course), had climbed the mountain upwards of 60 times … I think he said. He must have been in such good shape!
What wonderful exercise that would be if one was a local. At one point, we even saw a women walking down the mountain backwards. Needless to say, it was an absolutely incredible day!
— Dan Copes, a junior health sciences major