After an epic hike to the east peak of Huashan, Peter, Gavin, and I spent a few hours enjoying the views that an almost full moon afforded us. In the distance we could see the Yellow River, and below us only the sharp cliff that dropped off to the valley below. I stared into the darker areas trying to will myself to know what was there. I stared at the white rocks that were illuminated by the moon. And I stared at the night sky and the thousands of stars above us.
It was humbling, and it was breathtaking, and it was awesome all at the same time.
And there we stayed as we waited for the sun to rise over the mountain ranges beyond. Extra layers were added as the temperature dropped. We snacked, marvelling at the fact that we were in China at the top of a mountain at night. I was slightly giddy as I thought about how fortunate I was to be in China, experiencing this amazing adventure.
Slowly the night sky turned to dawn, and we were joined by more and more people seeking the summit and the view of the sunrise it offered.
The sky quickly became a spectrum of colours, which signalled to the birds to begin to chirp. The dark blue of the night sky became green, and red, and orange. The outlines of buildings in the valley came into view, and the stars began to fade.
And then the sun peaked over the mountain range. At that very moment the crowd of spectators – tired and weary from the climb – applauded and cheered, refreshed by the beams of light that were dancing over everyone’s faces. The noise that erupted caught me by surprise as I had been in my own little world watching this amazing spectacle before me.
I couldn’t help but smile, reminded that people everywhere are basically the same. We all look at something as simple and beautiful as a sunrise and recognize the significance and hope that it brings. Our differences and misunderstandings seem to pale in comparison to the amazingly simple things we all value.
I also smiled as I thought about the two great guys who joined me on the trek. Gavin had never climbed a mountain before that night and was clearly blown away by the experience. And yet without Gavin, Peter and I would have had a very different adventure prior to arriving at the base of the mountain. Spending the night at the top of the mountain with Peter couldn’t have been a better way to end our 5 day epic Xi’an adventure. I’m confident that the two of us will be up to adventures together in the not-to-distant future.
And finally, I smiled as I thought about friends who I know would have loved to have been there to share the experience with me. For those friends – you know who you are – I will conquer this mountain again and you will be joining me. That’s a promise.
As the sun drew higher in the sky we settled in for a short nap, content that the second part of our adventure was complete. After our nap we’d head off to the other 4 peaks that Huashan offered, and a section of the trail known for its incredibly dangerous path.