We woke up at 5 am to “skip tickets” to the famous mountain and ancient gate of Sichuan. We hiked up a muddy hill in the dark. Some things cameras are useless for capturing. Spring’s cousin pointed out how the mountain range in the distance looked like the silhouette of a face looking up. The moon was a fingernail clipping at its brow. We came out at dawn on the stairs leading up to the famous gate, the whole sight to ourselves.
the gate of Sichuan early in the AM
mighty sichuan!
Mighty mighty Sichuan! They say in ancient times, a single man could defend against an army of a thousand at this strategic entrance into ancient Su.

Thank God for skipping tickets, because later that afternoon after we hiked around the whole mountain, we came up the other side of this same gate. Here is the view of the same deserted ravine steps from the top of the fortress:
later that day at the gate

We spent the morning hiking around the mountain, climbing steep stairs up into stunning vistas.
we walked up those stairs
climbin the mountain
like from a poem

Spring’s relatives are silly and fun, and even though we couldn’t really communicate on a deep level, we shared some laughs.
spring's aunt and uncle
very thoughtful

Towards the peak, we ended up with this view:
the real misty mountain

And then some of us did this:
that was fun.
post zipline euphoria

It was incredible! The closest to flying I’ll probably ever get. It wasn’t scary at all, it was peaceful, and so amazing to look down and see the ravine beneath my dangling feet. Years from now when I think back and miss the best things China has to offer, in my dreams I’ll send my soul souring through these same clouds with these same wonderful people waiting for me on the other side.