On weekends, together with some of my friends who are outdoor adventure lovers, I climbed Tuojian, the first peak of the southern slope of the Dabie Mountains. Located southwest of Anhui province, it has an altitude of 1,751 meters.
In the southwest of Tuojian Mountain are stone forests, which stand out against the sky with steep cliffs and inaccessible precipices. Although lower than the highest peak, the stone forests bend cause Tuojian to jut out prominently, the whole shape of which is just like the hump of the camel, which is the basis for the name.
In the middle of Tuojian, a ridge stretches to the south with two small, winding hills, which are connected to each other at the foot of the mountain. Streams flow out from both of the hills, forming a shape similar to that of the Chinese character “个”. Locals call the hill on the upper side Big Snail Eye and the lateral one Small Snail Eye. Tuojian and the two hills cover an area of about 100 hectares.
As a peak with no clearly marked trail or stone steps, it was hard for us to climb the mountain. We found a local guide to lead the way. After four hours of hard hiking, we reached the peak of the mountain and the most beautiful view.
The first thing that caught my eye on my way to the peak was the giant, granite stones of different shapes. Some of them are shaped like birds and animals. The elephant trunk stone, the sea lion stone, the turtle stone and the dragon egg stone all named for their resemblance to those animals.
Some of the stones are shaped like other figures. The Arhat stone derives its name from a row of regularly arranged stones. There is also the chair stone and millstone named because the stones resemble those items.
Hardy pines grow out of the rock cracks and stand erect on the edge of the mountain’s cliffs. The weather-beaten pines are in different shapes, some with tall and straight trunks. There are also pines with twisted and gnarled roots that can look like a flying dragon or a crouching tiger. The harmony of strength and gracefulness, the two qualities of beauty, make for a superb description of Tuojian Mountain.
The weather on Tuojian Mountain is fickle, since it lies between a northern subtropical climate and warm temperate climate to the south. Thus, there is a large temperature difference from the foot of the mountain to the peak. On a single day, you can experience sunshine, clouds and showers. The peaks are often enshrouded in mist and fog, offering spectacular views of the clouds. The fast-changing weather lends to an air of romanticism and mystery.
Tuojian Mountain has a crowd of peaks and some small hills, where springs flow out and rush down the crags together to the bottom, forming a pool. Water overflows form the pool to become a stream again. The murmuring of the running water sounds like romantic melodies played on a piano. After the rain, the water expanded and rushed passionately over the crags with a thundering sound. From Tuojian to the mouth of the stream, there are ten hydropower stations with a generating capacity of more than 100 kilowatts each.
Although the natural scenery of Tuojian Mountain cannot rival better-known Huangshan Mountain, it is a place that few have discovered and exploited.
There is a folk tale about Tuojian Mountain. The famous poet Li Bai of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) wanted to go to Tuojian Mountain from Mingtang Mountain. He carved two gourds with ribbons on the stone wall of the river, and beside the gourds four Chinese characters were carved. The characters “天上光明” means brightness in heaven. The Hulu River was named after it. Li Bai intended to go across Mingtang Mountain along Hulu River to Tuojian Mountain. However, when he arrived at the foot of Mingtang Mountain, he found that it was too smooth to climb. And he was dejected at that time because of his recent defeat in battle, so he thought he couldn’t go to the peak of Mingtang Mountain, let alone the much higher Tuojian Mountain. So he decided to live a private life on Sikong Mountain.
Tuojian Mountain is beautiful, but the best thing to do is to tour it and discover its beauty for yourself.
By Audrey and Wang Fan