At the Top

Just got back from a day in Pingxi, and boy, was that a trip! This town is famous for its intense latern festival celebrations. Heck, they’re so stoked about the lantern festival that they can’t even wait until February. Here goes a lantern now:



The place that I came to see was a lone pillar in the middle of dense jungle that lies right outside of the town. But would I make it to the top?


Not if the wilderness had anything to say about it. As soon as I got to the path that would turn off onto the right trail, a pack of insane wild dogs started chasing me down a dirt road in the opposite direction. I ran for my life. They ended up chasing me up this random trail before losing interest and turning back. But I couldn’t go back in the correct direction, because they were still hanging out over by the correct path. So I made the decision, for whatever reason, to take this side trail and hope that it would end up in the same spot.


I bushwacked my way up that entire mountain on what I now believe was not meant to be a trail. At some points it seemed intentional, at another point I had to do a pull-up to get to the next step because the ones in between had crumbled away. An hour in, I was just praying to find some kind of civilized trail area and not be lost until after sundown.


Finally, I managed to find a trail. Things were looking up for me. I could see the ladder that you use to climb to the top of the peak! Who should appear, but the same pack of wild dogs that started chasing me again, and again in the opposite direction from where I was supposed to go. They chased me up into a temple carved into a mountain. I began to panic, and I threw some rocks down in their direction to scare them away. They ran off. By the time I got to the actual ladder and was ready to climb to the top, my muscles were spazzing everywhere and it was hard for me to hold on to the rope along the climb. Was not comforting, given that if I let go of the rope and fell off of the tiny footholds, I was going to take a joyous flight through 100 feet of jungle. That thought only made my terrified muscles spaz out even more.


When I finally made it to the top, I could kind of say that it was all worth it. It was a beautiful view and a rare moment of solitude on this congested island.


When it came time to leave, I booked it all the way back down the hill to town. I saw the nice, paved trail that I could have taken up the mountain, had those dogs not chased me. And I went and bought a whole box of oreos for my troubles and ate the whole thing, without remorse.


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