Today we left camp from the base of a fort positioned at the top of a mountain ridge. We followed the ridge all day as it gently wound its way north past valleys that dropped away from us on both sides and small mountain villages where locals seemed fascinated as to why we were traveling here and were very difficult to understand. Today’s views were spectacular! The hillsides that surrounded us seemed to be entirely manipulated leaving very little natural hill slope. It was hard to imagine the work that went into these hills. Seemingly endless miles of mountains and valleys completely terraced to meet the need of the agricultural lifestyle that is required for this mountainous environment. To see it gives me the sense of seeing other amazing human feats such as the Great Wall or the Pyramids of Giza. Transforming a mountain must take generations—or, at the very least, the better part of a person’s life, and their back. As we walked, we saw a new road plowing its way through the narrowing valley from one hilltop village to another. Technology is no doubt an amazing thing. In this instance, it was in the form of one excavator doing the work in just a few months what would have taken hundreds of farmers decades or closer to a century.
The second thing I thought as I walked through this up and down landscape was the kind of work this landscape demands to farm it. A terraced hill by virtue is back-breaking, requiring physical labor to till each terrance, planting, weeding the fields, and harvesting by hand. These mountain villagers have been farming these terraces for centuries and cannot accommodate machinery due to small plot sizes, limited space for access, and odd shapes to maximize the slope’s surface area. In some villages of rural China entire communities will chip in and buy farm machinery to share around, but those fields aren’t found on mountains.
Today we witnessed determination and persistence all around us.
Distance: 16 km
Total Distance: 514 km
End: Dataping 大塔坪 camping
Written by Pat