|Qing Cheng Hou Shan
Part 1 (April)
Located just west of Chengdu en route to
the Wolong Nature Reserve, this mountain
range is well known as a popular weekend
getaway. While it is not as well known
compared to Juizhaigou or Emei Shan, the
mountains, particularly Hou Shan (The back
mountain) boasts some wonderful botanical
Wednesday April 13, 2006 4:52PM
SuNnY DaYz and I'm in lab again working
Despite a late morning and missing class today, it's been a fairly productive day. Chengdu has been blessed by the return of the sun lifting our spirits
from the deeply depressing rains and overcast pollution of the last few days. But am I out to enjoy it? No, I'm inside getting my collection from Qing
Cheng Shan in the press and reflecting on a most wonderful two days up in the mountains.
Without going on a full out journal entry (which, I'm sure, Alissa is working on right now!), I just have to give you all some highlights since I'm pushing
myself to write up a botanical report for my project. It was an absolute candy store for me out in Qing Cheng Shan, not only were Alissa and I estactic
about getting out of the city, the scenic views and lush vegetation took our breaths away! And for me, to encounter a diverse array of plants was the
icing on an overall great trip.
We left Chengdu at about 10AM and hopped on a bus just
beyond the gym where we work out. It was a 25 yuan ticket per
person going up to Qing Cheng Shan. we passed by Dujiangyan
and Alissa saw Chengdu's countryside for the first time as we
passed kilometer after kilometer of farmlands and GREEN that
Alissa said, "...is already making me feel better!" We arrived an
hour and a half later and took another bus that took us to the
base of the rear of the mountain range. We slowly hiked up and
took in some tremendous views and I'd constantly yell in
excitement finding plants that I had hoped to see! As fun and
exciting as this was for me, it slowed us down a bit, but Alissa is
such a trouper! Anyone else would have deserted me, but she
stuck around and found interest in the many species that I
encountered and collected.
Alissa is a fellow UW Student with a major in Computer
Science and finishing up a second degree in Linguistics. She
was a tremendous help with her excellent Chinese and patience
with me. We saw first hand how people make a living on the
mountian. Here (right photo) we marvel and chuckle about a
small fridge being brought up the mountain by a local
Our lodging overnight was at a fairly large hotel in the mountain where we
were the only guests. Our hosts were incredibly nice and Alissa seemed to
manage pretty well in communicating since they spoke mostly Sichuan hua.
We got one room together with separate beds (they took us to a room with
one large bed, but we reiterated once more that we were not together!
hahaha) for 20 yuan per person. The only downside was there was no
running water. They were kind enough to bring us water so we managed
for the night. Being the only guest, we were treated warmly and had a nice
stay. Alissa felt proud of herself being able to communicate so well and I
gave myself some credit for understanding more as she took care of most
of the talking throughout the trip!
|Morning Tea Looking
out into a courtyard
Our Hotel Hosts
The next morning was a memorable experience for me. It had
rained the night before and a thick cloud of mist inundated the
lush forests and as I opened the window, the gentle sounds of
raindrops and the morning air was so pleasing to hear and so
refreshing. I went out for a walk before breakfast, collected a
variegated Corydalis I was eyeing during our walk up and as I
continued on, the mist started to clear up to reveal the distance
peaks and abundant forests showing all sorts of signs of spring
with bright green new growth and clouds of white Clematis and
Rhododendrons on the hillsides was absolutely amazing! I used
up my phone card to call up Joyce telling her how I wish she
was there with me to share this experience!
I had to do most of my plant collecting this day just to make sure I had
nice fresh material to press. My plant finds were INCREDIBLE.
NEVER did I expect to see hillsides of Cardiocrinum (Giant Himalayan
Lily) growing in Sichuan. I also encountered wild Epimediums in flower
along with a large species of Corydalis that just blew me away with its
bronze, marbled foliage! I was hyperventillating about it so much, Alissa
was all, "Riz, do the gardeners a huge favor and bring this plant back to
the US!" Being the largest Corydalis I've ever encountered in terms of
leaf, flower and basal stem, I carefully dug the root, which was the size
of my fist, and prayed that I wouldn't encounter a whole hillside of them.
I like to think that I've encountered something new and special! The
same with a striking Begonia species I found with deeply divided,
Epimedium sp. (fargesii?)
I sent these photos to Corydalis expert Magnus
Liden who identified this as C. temulifolia.
Ching I Peng assisted in identifying this as Begonia petadifida H. Lev. The photo on
the left shows early spring new growth while the one on the right displays the
foliage in the summer.
Favorite Shrub Find:
I was in awe of this spectacular large shrub/small tree. It appears to be
evergreen, but the highlight was the spectacular cloud of cool white
flowers that emitted the sweetest fragrance I had experienced in such a
long time. While several groves of this tree could be found on the
mountainside, I also saw it as a behaved small tree worthy of
introduction if it proved to be hardy and easy to care for under
cultivation. I later learned that his was the genus Symplocos (possibly
the species lucida). I was unable to collect propagules, but it's certainly
worth coming back for!!
After hours of hiking we reached the top of the mountain at 1600m and
visited one of the many temples that exist on Qing Cheng Shan. The
views were once again breathtaking and I can still remember that feeling
of awe marvelling at where I've come. I couldn't help but reflect on the
journey I've taken in life to get to where I was. Sure it was a 4 hour hike
up from where we were, but looking at the broader picture, I felt so
blessed to have come so far to China and take in this entire experience.
Walking up the to the top.
Mist at 1600m
The Jade Lake
The cave of Ten Thousand Buddhas
Going back down, we were pressed for time having learned that there might not
be a cable car down and bus back to Dujiangyan and Chengdu. Plus, Alissa had
politics class at 7:30PM. Watching each other haul ass back down the mountain
was hilarious defying muddy paths and unforgiving slopes! We were lucky to get
one of the last cable cars down, but there was no bus available back to the city.
So, what do you do when you desperately need transportation, HITCHHIKE!!
Hahahahah, duh! So, another unforgettable moment was riding on the back of a
pick up feeling the cool breeze and getting one last look at the scenery as we
descended down the mountain at 65 mph. I was totally loving it; I put on my head
phones blasting Powderfinger and singing along during this tremendous joyride
that capped off a most incredible last two days.
Just so you know that my head has come down from the clouds:
I've just submitted my Venture Fellowship essay for a Mary Gates Scholarship to
complete my nomination for this grant. Wish me luck!
Photographs and Site Contents Copyright © Rizaniño H. Reyes. All rights reserved