Thursday February 10th I hiked mount Hua. Mount Hua is in the province of Shaanxi, about 120 km outside Xian. I got there from Xian by train. It took me the better part of a day to get there because I took the slow train and missed my stop so I had to get another train back to the right station. I like to think I have a natural talent for wasting time.

"Hua" means flower in Chinese and the mountain is so called because it has 5 peaks that supposedly look like the petals to a flower from a distance. That's what the internet told me, anyway.

 Most people take the cable car up to the North Peak (the lowest of the peaks at 1614.9m) and then they hike to the other peaks from there. I didn't realise there are two ways up the mountain and I went up the one that doesn't have cable cars. So I'm hiking and everything is really quiet and deserted and I'm thinking wow, I guess people just don't want to come here in the winter and then after about 3 hours of hiking or so I reach the North Peak and there's all these people! I was confused and wondered where they all came from. I'd been hiking since 8:30am and only seen about a dozen other hikers, most of which I'd passed. How did they all sneak past me?
On the cable cars, that's how. From the east entrance.

Anyway, here's the west entrance.

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Pretty, huh? It wasn't snowing but there was a light dusting over everything, like a delicious layer of powdered sugar on... some sort of desert. I didn't really think that analogy through. 

It was a nice, peaceful sort of hike and I'm sure there are probably some beautiful views on clear days. I was not there on a clear day however. For about 3 hours I was hiking inside a cloud so there wasn't much to take pictures of. 

So I took pictures of signs.

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Stop tourist! Heh heh.

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No striding! (Luckily there were no rules against frolicking. I didn't, because it was a little icy, but I could have.)

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No burning. At first I pictured someone going around with a lit match or a red-hot poker and burning people. Then I thought of that Elvis song, Burning Love. I wished I was hiking with a hot guy so I could tell him to stop being a hunk of burning love. But I was hiking alone so I just "heh heh hehed" to myself and kept going.

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A yin-yang fountain! This mountain is considered sacred in the Taoist tradition so there were some yin-yangs around and some little shrines and temples.

The smooth snow was too much and I succombed to temptation...

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And made a snow angel!

Here's one of the steeper parts of the hike:
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One minute I'm hiking in a cloud and then all of the sudden I come out above the cloud and hey look! There are mountains all around me!

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This part was called Black Dragon Ridge. There were no dragons.

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From the North Peak (where the upper cable car station is) I hiked for another hour before turning around and heading back down. I would have liked to see the other peaks but my legs were getting all sore and shakey and I wanted to get back to Xian before it got too late. 

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Self-portrait from on top of the world!