We have directions from the hostel. Walk toward the cable car and there will be a trail leading up the mountain. From there walk pass the temple and the hostel to another trail that will lead us to the top of Mount Cang. Okay.
The weather isn’t great like yesterday. The mountain is covered in fog. We continue anyways through old town toward the cable car hoping to find breakfast and snacks to go. I can’t find steamed buns and settle for two bananas, cookies and an ice tea for more sugar. Spoiler alert: It’s a terrible food day.
The uphill walk already makes me tired and we haven’t started yet. We pay for the entrance ticket and walk to the cable car. Around and around we go but find no trail here. The people at the cable car of course tell us there’s no other way. We ask a random guy and he confirms there’s a trail over yonder.
We walk through a new high class residential area with the widest street I’ve seen. It’s a glimpse into what Dali will look like in 5 years. We find a cobble stone road and it leads us up to the start of the trail. Finally! Two people are here and they know enough English to warn us that going to the top of the mountain is dangerous. It’s unclear whether it’s due to the lack of stairs or weather conditions.
Continuing on we reach the start of the stairs. Yes, more stairs! Ugh. My shoes are slippery on the wet dirt so I rarely take any of the short cuts that locals have blazed near the stairs. Up and up… There’s graves scattered around the sides of the trails. We meet some locals and they offer beer. Clearly they know how to hike.
After two hours we make it to the halfway spot where the easy cobble stone trail cuts across the mountain range. We follow signs toward the temple. I use the bathroom and it’s the first squat toilet without doors that I encountered. It’s just a trough with dividing walls. It won’t be the last one I see.
We meet a German woman with a GPS map. She’s also going to the top as training for a hiking trip she’s going on. We team up and find the hostel. I emailed this hostel on arrival to Dali to get hiking info but never heard back. They’re closed now without a permit to operate in the park.
There’s danger signs here but the police officer does not look up from his stories to stop us. A real dirt trail leads up the mountain. The fog grows thicker. It’s slow moving. We stop to rest and assess how much time we have. It’s still a couple hours to the top plus walking all the way back. I opt out figuring the fog will hide any views. Walking up hill is not my favorite.
I almost fall a few times on the small stretch of dirt and rock trail we walked. Instead of going back to the hostel I walk the easy cobble stone path. The sun has burned through the fog and the views are improving. There’s small waterfalls and pavilions. Every couple kilometers.
I walk as far as I feel like and begin the walk back. Those stairs again. Walking down you realize how ridiculous it is. Instead of going straight, it will zigzag around some trees. I’m grateful to reach the road.
I meet two guys. They want to walk up to the top and I give them directions. They ask about marijuana if I’ve seen it growing. Really? You came all this way for that? We part ways and I rehydrate with orange juice and water.
I take a nap and update the blog. The Brit already went for dinner but he’s on his way to get some amazing candy bar that I must try. I pick up some snacks, my brain already anticipating how this night will end. They’re out of the candy bar.
It’s late and restaurants are closing or empty. I haven’t had a chance to walk around Dali before so I don’t know where to go. More tired than hungry I eat chips and go to bed.