Sunday last was the day we had been talking about since before the girls’ arrival in China. They had it in their heads that on their list of China tasks was visiting this mountain. Admittedly I’d never heard of it before they mentioned it, but my method of operation here is to go along for pretty much anything; I was up for the adventure.
Mt Tai Expectation:
When I imagined us climbing this mountain, my first thought was that we’d be hiking– walking up paths at a slight incline as we made our was leisurely up the mountain. We would be the only people on the trail; maybe we’d play some music and have a little dance party on our jaunty walk. At the top of the mountain, we’d be at a literal peak that had a small temple. There would be monks (who had taken vows of silence) and were meditating. It would be sunny with a slight breeze, and we’d be free to take pictures and sit in silence and revere the awesomeness of the world. We’d be the only ones up there, because who else would have the idea to climb a mountain?
Mt Tai Reality:
Hiking the mountain translated to mean climbing 6000ish steps. And by steps, I mean the kind that are so vertical you can reach out and almof touch the ones in front of you. There was no music playing or jaunty walking because we were having enough trouble breathing and not falling backwards. Mt Tai is revered as a holy spot, so of course a thousand other Chinese people had the idea to climb it too- the stairs were packed the entire time we were climbing. At the top was a temple, but it was not solitary. There was a mini-village on top with shops, restaurants, and lots of people yelling #andtryingtotakepictureswithus. There wasn’t a place to sit down. It was snowing. The view, however, was amazing. We were also literally #notfiguratively in the clouds, something I’ve never experienced before.
When I got to the top, the sense of accomplishment overrode all my screaming muscles #stepclassoncrack. I could understand why the trek was such an integral part of the experience because when one reaches the top after a hike like that, all the barriers in the mind are gone. To make it, I had to think only about making my feet move in front of me #andnotfall.
Fun Fact: It’s not easy #atall to be nice to people who want to take pictures with you while you’re trying to climb a mountain. This was the second most difficult task of the day #don’twantthemtothinkforeignersarejerks.
Mount Tai was a hoot. We were grungy and tired and proud by the end of the day. Climbing the 5 flights of stairs to my apartment when we finally arrived in Weifang, however, was a joke. Sheer force of will was the only factor that allowed me to reach the top #legswerejelly.