Into the Gorge

We’re awake early to eat breakfast and catch the sunrise. The clouds hang low and drift slowly, breaking into pieces, across the mountain range. The sunrise starts slow and just when you think there’s nothing special, the sun paints the clouds.     
We start on the trail. It’s much easier today. Perhaps we could have kept going especially with the bright moon. Oh well.   
We slowly split up as half the group is walking and the others dawdle with photography.  

  

  

someone’s campsite

I’m with the Brit and we talk about traveling, books and China.  

 
Halfway guesthouse is just up ahead. It’s a great spot to rest. Indeed they have the best bathroom views.  

  

a nice trough to squat in

bathroom view

 
There’s a smartly dressed gentleman and the two Spaniards are here. I thought they would have finished yesterday! The others arrive and we keep talking.   
Back on the trail we go… On and on.  

    
 We pass waterfalls and a herd of goats.  

   
At one point we reach another group and walk through a rocky area. A woman behind me without warning takes hold of my arm. Careful she says. She does this several times despite my firm footing. So adorable!
The end is near as we stop in at Tina’s. They buy their bus tickets and we eat lunch together, our last meal. From here you can walk down to the gorge. The Brit races down the steep path. I take my time as I’ll be spending the night at the gorge. There’s no rush. It’s very hot with the sun directly above. People walking back up are covered in sweat. 

 

as close as I get

 
I’m almost to the bottom when I run into the Brit. He’s not looking well. Dehydrated most likely. I tell him to drink water. The others come by. I know they have a bus to catch so I tell them I’ll make sure he gets back up. 
A guy asks if everything is okay. I tell him to send someone down to help as he’s on his way up. Other people stop by including a couple that knows English. He’s having a panic attack. An older woman comes down to say if he climbs farther up the trail there’s a donkey he can take back. Two gentlemen take him by the arms and quickly walk him up the steep stairs. I try to keep up with encouraging words but they out pace me. 
I slowly climb up and buy more water. It’s so hot, I begin to think I should ride the donkey too. Eventually I make it back to Tina’s. I didn’t realize the time as my female companions are still there. Apparently once he was out of the gorge, he instantly felt better and ran to catch the bus. He asked them to relay his thanks to me. 
We talked for a bit and their bus arrives. With the last bus gone, Tina’s is empty. I stock up on water and have a snack. 

  Walnut Grove village is another kilometer or two down the road. I walk to the village and just before entering there’s an awesome view of the gorge.   
There’s not much to the village. I check Sean’s and all the cheap rooms are full. There’s a cyclist tour group inside. I look at the map another tourist gave me and realized that Walnut Grove was the name of the guesthouse he was referring to, not the village. Ugh. I think I saw the sign earlier on the way here. It says it’s an hour or so hike. It’s getting late and I’ve walked quite a bit today.  

don’t know what this path is but every adventure story has one
 
Someone calls my name. It’s the Hong Kong couple. What are the odds? We team up and stay at Tibet Guesthouse. They do the negotiating and for the first time I have a room to myself. The owner tells me to sleep in one bed. Does one person really sleep in two beds? 
After enjoying a hot shower, I go downstairs to wait for the Hong Kong couple. We share dinner and the whole adoption story comes out. They’re concerned that I’m here alone without language skills. He comments on my chop stick skills and at first I thought I was holding them wrong. I don’t remember how I learned to use them. He was just surprised that I knew how to use them without being a complete slob. I tell him we have Asian restaurants that use chopsticks. Mine blown. 
We talk about other things. I ask them about Hong Kong, trying to get the goods on an upcoming destination. Maybe we’ll meet up for lunch. 
It’s quiet here until another couple shows up. They are so loud and of course their room is next to mine. At night I wanted to tell them to shut their pie hole. 

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