Up and Down Bei­jing’s Moun­tains

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS - Trans­lated by Zhou Fu­jing Edited by Mark Zuiderveld

Come to climb moun­tains in Bei­jing-tian­jin- He­bei re­gion along a zigzag­ging path and learn about le­gends of the Cen­tral Plains.

Bei­jing-tian­jin-he­bei re­gion is lo­cated at where the North­ern China Plain and Tai­hang Moun­tains meet the moun­tain­ous ar­eas in north­ern He­bei Prov­ince. This re­gion boasts moun­tains and scenic spots which in­te­grate nat­u­ral scenery and cul­ture. Lux­u­ri­ant green veg­e­ta­tion turns them into green parks. Come and climb these moun­tains along a zigzag­ging path and learn the le­gends of the Cen­tral Plains.

East Ling­shan Moun­tain, Sum­mit of Bei­jing

Bei­jing is sur­rounded by moun­tains in the west, north and north­east, with the East Ling­shan Moun­tain as its sum­mit. The moun­tain is lo­cated in north­west­ern Men­tougou Dis­trict, whose main peak is 2,303 me­tres above sea level. The moun­tain ad­joins to Huailai, Zhuolu and Laishui coun­ties in He­bei Prov­ince.

Veg­e­ta­tion on the moun­tain isver­ti­cally dis­trib­uted. With a rising al­ti­tude, there are man-made forests, de­cid­u­ous shrub­bery, ev­er­green nee­dle-leaved for­est, broadleaved de­cid­u­ous for­est, and the sub­alpine meadow belt. The moun­tain, abun­dant in plants, has reached more than 800. There are larches, as­pens, shrubs, and herba­ceous plants such as win­ter­green and twoleaf bead­ruby. The moun­tain has be­come known as the “gene bank of

veg­e­ta­tion in north­ern China.” The sub­alpine meadow belt, with an al­ti­tude above 1,900 me­tres, is the only nat­u­ral habi­tat in Bei­jing for fine-fleece sheep from Xin­jiang, horses from Yili, Xi­jiang, and yaks from Ti­bet.

In sum­mer, the moun­tain is a sea of colour­ful flow­ers and it is also the best time to tour. Va­ri­eties of flow­ers and grasses vary as the al­ti­tude rising. They in­clude com­monly-seen flow­ers such as bright yel­low trollflow­ers, wild pop­pies, bristle­grass, lark­spur and wild roses. They are easy to find out and recog­nise. How­ever, some va­ri­eties in Bei­jing but not in large quan­tity can only be found on East Ling­shan Moun­tain. They in­clude pedic­u­laris plants with bright yel­low petals; the Merten­sia davurica with blue tubu­lar-shaped flow­ers, Py­rola in­car­nata Fisch grasses with lit­tle pink flow­ers on straight stalks, and lo­mato­go­nium flow­ers with five-petalled flow­ers. Although not eye- catch­ing, they make East Ling­shan Moun­tain dif­fer­ent. In au­tumn, as the flow­ers fade away, dif­fer­ent scenery takes over the moun­tain.

The moun­tain's veg­e­ta­tion re­sources of­fer a liv­able con­di­tion and make the moun­tain an ideal habi­tat for more than 700 va­ri­eties. When hik­ing the moun­tain, one can see them in pinewoods, on mead­ows, in bushes, or among rocks. Crea­tures perch­ing here in­clude squir­rels, foxes, hares, pheas­ants, wild goats, deer, and Qing­hai boars and yaks. Brown- eared pheas­ants, a rare na­tional bird, can also be seen here. A prim­i­tive eco­log­i­cal sys­tem has taken shape on the moun­tain.

High al­ti­tude also gives rise to the capri­cious cli­mate on the moun­tain. A Chi­nese say­ing goes that “it is hard to see a sunny day on the East Ling­shan Moun­tain.” As the con­stant chang­ing of hu­mid­ity and air pres­sure, the moun­tain still looms be­cause of the thick mist. In eras with un­der­de­vel­oped sci­ence, peo­ple con­sid­ered that the moun­tain was cov­ered by a sa­cred aura (ling qi) and called it “Ling Shan.”

East Ling­shan Moun­tain is hon­oured as “Mount Ever­est” in west Bei­jing and its main peak was the best lo­ca­tion for view­ing scenery. Hik­ers can walk along the stony path, pass by dif­fer­ent gardens to reach the top. One will have the pride of “view­ing all moun­tains in a sin­gle glance.” To the north is the Guant­ing Reser­voir and to the south is Bai­hua Moun­tain; the west is the lit­tle Wu­tai Moun­tain and to the east is the Great Wall zigzag­ging on Huang­cao­liang, a scenic zone in Men­tougou. The moun­tain, with its high­land land­scape, has be­come an ideal hik­ing des­ti­na­tion.

Bax­ian Moun­tain in Tian­jin

Bax­ian Moun­tain (Eight Im­mor­tals' Moun­tain) Na­tional Na­ture Re­serve lies in the north­east of Tian­jin Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, 30 kilo­me­tres from Jizhou County. It neigh­bours the East­ern Royal Qing Tombs in the east, the ma­jes­tic Huangyaguan Great Wall in the west, the rip­pling Cuip­ing Lake in the south and the towering Wul­ing Moun­tain in the north. The re­serve boasts di­verse an­cient ge­o­log­i­cal re­mains and is rich in Chi­nese dates and kiki fruits. It is also a par­adise for wild an­i­mals.

There are 19 peaks in to­tal in the area, all of which stand at over 900 me­tres above sea level. Jux­ian (Im­mor­tals Gath­er­ing) Peak, 1,052 me­tres above sea level, is the main peak of Bax­ian Moun­tain and the sec­ond peak in Tian­jin Mu­nic­i­pal­ity. Ge­o­log­i­cal re­mains in the re­serve were formed from quartzite about 1.8 bil­lion years ago. Af­ter years of ge­o­log­i­cal for­ma­tions, forests and val­leys have taken shape.

The re­serve abounds in rare veg­e­ta­tive va­ri­eties based on its ge­o­log­i­cal lo­ca­tion. Plants from trop­i­cal, sub­trop­i­cal, warmtem­per­ated and cold zones grow there. Chi­nese red pine forests, de­cid­u­ous broadleaved hard­wood forests, Mon­go­lian oaks, white beeches, and cloves are also planted here. It has formed a high- den­sity land­scape com­pos­ing of tall trees, low bushes, and a large vines in­ter­twined. The dis­tinc­tive land­scape of de­cid­u­ous broad-leaved hard­wood forests is rare in North China, even in re­gions of the same lat­i­tude world­wide.

The moun­tain is con­nected with “Bax­ian,” mean­ing eight im­mor­tals in Chi­nese mythol­ogy. The moun­tain was orig­i­nally called “Bax­ian zhuozi” (Eight Im­mor­tals' Ta­ble). Le­gend has it that the

eight im­mor­tals passed by this moun­tain on their way to the east sea. Un­usual peaks, clear wa­ters and green for­est at­tracted them to de­scend and rest be­side a huge rock in the shape of a ta­ble. The rock was called “Bax­ian zhuo” (Eight Im­mor­tals' Ta­ble) and the moun­tain was named “Bax­ian Shan.” The moun­tain was favoured not only by fairies, but em­per­ors.

Ac­cord­ing to his­tor­i­cal books, Em­peror Chongzhen (reign: 1627–1644) of Ming Dy­nasty (1368–1644) did not find out an ideal place for con­struct­ing im­pe­rial tombs or mau­soleums in Tian­shou Moun­tain. There­fore, the em­peror or­dered a for­tune teller to seek out a proper place. The for­tune teller came to Feng­tail­ing af­ter a long jour­ney (known as Changrui Toun­tain in Qing). He fi­nally de­cided to build tombs in this area.

In 1651, Em­peror Shun­zhi (reign: 1643–1661) of Qing Dy­nasty (1644–1911) again chose the area for con­struct­ing tombs. Qing shi gao (“manuscripts of Qing Dy­nasty) recorded that “On Oc­to­ber 19, 1951, 14-year- old Shun­zhi left Bei­jing and spent seven days in Tangquan. One day, he went hunt­ing on Changrui Moun­tain and drawn by its charm­ing scenery. He stopped, looked around, then said, “It is lux­u­ri­antly green and can be used as a place for my cof­fin.” In 1662, the con­struc­tion of Xiaol­ing, the first East­ern Qing Tombs mau­soleum, was launched. A year later, Shun­zhi was buried there.

For 200 years, forests such as Bax­ian Moun­tain, Limu­tai, Taip­ing­gou, and Heishuihe were designated as the “for­bid­den places.” A board which read “for­bid­ding cut­ting woods and hunt­ing” was erected on Bax­ian Moun­tain. The im­pe­rial court as­signed guards to pa­trol and in­spect, but no one was al­lowed to en­ter. Those who vi­o­lated these rules were pun­ished.

In 1910, Qing court couldn't af­ford pay­ing the guards in­spect­ing the East­ern Royal Qing Tombs and an­nounced to abol­ish the for­mer for­bid­den rules. Busi­ness­men from all over flocked to the moun­tain to log in­for­ma­tion. The for­est's ecol­ogy was de­stroyed and pines trees and cy­presses were cut down.

The moun­tain suf­fered more dam­age dur­ing the Chi­nese Peo­ple's War of Re­sis­tance against the Ja­panese ( 1931– 1945). Af­ter the found­ing of the Peo­ple's Repub­lic of China in 1949, the pro­tec­tion of the for­est was at the top of the agenda. In 1955, Jix­ian County State- owned For­est Farm was founded to pro­tect the moun­tain. Af­ter 40 years, the ecol­ogy of Bax­ian Moun­tain re­cov­ered and the area was cer­ti­fied as the Bax­ian Moun­tain Na­tional Na­ture Re­serve by China's State Coun­cil in 1995. The re­serve is also a na­tional geop­ark of forests and val­leys, known as the “Xishuang­banna” in North China.

Nowa­days, Bax­ian Moun­tain is char­ac­terised by green forests, high peaks, rip­pling wa­ters, flower beds, and birds. Visi­tors can ap­pre­ci­ate scenery in four zones: Shen­shuixia (Shen­shui Gorge), Bax­ian Moun­tain, Shi­dong­gou, and Taip­ing­gou, and en­joy the har­mony of na­ture.

Ye­sanpo Scenic Spot in He­bei

Ye­sanpo scenic spot is sit­u­ated in Laishui County, He­bei Prov­ince, at the junc­tion of the Tai­hang Moun­tains and Yan­shan Moun­tains. Eighty kilo­me­tres from Bei­jing, it has dis­tinc­tive nat­u­ral scenery and good eco­log­i­cal area. It is noted for its grand, per­ilous and serene canyons.

The scenic spot cov­ers an area of 520 square kilo­me­tres and has six tourism re­sorts: “Bail­ixia (50-kilo­me­tre-long

canyon),” Juma River, Yugudong Weird Springs and Caves, Long­men Tian­guan Great Wall Con­ver­sa­tion Zone, Baicaopan For­est Area, and Jin­hua Moun­tain. It em­braces all kinds of nat­u­ral beauty as well as cul­tural relics.

The Bail­ixia ex­tends for 50 kilo­me­tres. It con­tains the Hai­tangyu (Crab- ap­ple Flow­ers Canyon), Shix­u­anxia

( Ten- Cliff Canyon), and Xiezigou ( Ditch of Nil­giri Net­tle Grass) and is the rare sakanaya karst land­form sys­tem. With its dis­tinc­tive ge­ol­ogy and to­pog­ra­phy, an­i­mal and plants con­sti­tute a nat­u­ral cor­ri­dor char­ac­ter­ized for be­ing grand, serene and per­ilous. Be­cause of its unique land­scape, “Bail­ixia” has be­come a film­ing base with many TV se­ries and films shot here, in­clud­ing Ro­mance of Three King­doms, Wa­ter Mar­gin, and Jour­ney to the West. Hu Sheng, for­mer vice chair­man of the CPPCC and for­mer pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, once vis­ited Ye­sanpo and wrote the in­scrip­tion “Tianxia diyi xia”

(“the first canyon un­der heaven”).

The Xiezigou ditch mea­sures about 12.5 kilo­me­tres in length. It is cov­ered by xizie cao, a kind of scor­pion (xiezi)- shaped grass and named “xiezigou.” The skin may ache if touch­ing the leaves, but the pain soon dis­ap­pears. Won­der­ful views in the ditch, such as “Yixi­antian” (thin strip of sky), “Long­tan yingyue” (moon over Long­tan) and “Mo’erya,” are amaz­ing.

In the Crab-ap­ple Flow­ers Canyon, there are streams, springs, and wa­ter­falls. A stone was sculpted into the im­age of Bod­hisattva by na­ture and mul­ti­ple-lay­ered rocks look like the side face of a Bud­dha. In sum­mer, wild crabap­ple flow­ers bloom in the canyon, emit­ting fra­grance.

The 22.5- kilo­me­tre- long Shix­u­anxia was named af­ter the 10 cliffs in var­i­ous shapes in the canyon. In­side is a cylin­der- shaped val­ley which ap­pears like a huge urn. Clear springs flow down, form­ing a pool at the bot­tom, which is the “Chen­niu Lake” water­fall. There is the Wa­ter Cur­tain Cave at the Lingzhi Moun­tain and the sight of the “In­vis­i­ble Sky” among the arch- shaped cliffs, and in­com­pre­hen­si­ble peaks.

On the north­east part of Ye­sanpo lies the Baicaopan, known as the “green pearl in Tai­hang Moun­tains.” Its main peak is about 1,983 me­tres above the sea level, the high­est moun­tain in the Ye­sanpo Scenic Spot. Baicaopan and Bai­hua Moun­tain are called “twins.” It has a cool cli­mate and the tem­per­a­ture dif­fers sharply in day and night. It is 22 de­grees Cel­sius in sum­mer and the dis­tri­bu­tion of veg­e­ta­tion varies as the al­ti­tude rising. With each pass­ing day there is a dif­fer­ent cli­mate, with flow­ers bloom­ing at dif­fer­ent times. The ev­er­green and ro­bust pine forests are dis­trib­uted in an area less than 1,000 me­tres above sea level, and larch trees can be seen in ar­eas above. Based on sur­veys, the moun­tain has about 1,000 va­ri­eties of seed-bear­ing plants in 92 fam­i­lies and 100 va­ri­eties of fern plants in 15 fam­i­lies. There are 159 types of ver­te­brates, 15 of which are un­der na­tional pro­tec­tion. It has be­come a par­adise for wild an­i­mals.

Ye­sanpo Scenic Spot boasts not only the ma­jes­tic canyon scenery, but the zigzag­ging Juma River. Along the river­banks are rolling moun­tains. Go­ing down­stream, tourists can view “the eight sights” such as “shamang lanlu,” the deep canyon known as the “lit­tle Gobi Desert”; and “shi­men dunkai,” the cliff of dis­place­ment; and “shi­hou xishui,” rocks erect­ing in wa­ter in great num­ber which look like the heads of mon­keys. In sum­mer, it is ideal for drift­ing, bungee jump­ing, raft­ing, rid­ing a horse, and sand­board­ing. In the evening, tourists can light a bon­fire, shoot fire­works, and en­joy a bar­be­cue to spend the evening.

At the Ye­sanpo Theatre, tourists can ap­pre­ci­ate the dance show Vi­sion Ye­sanpo to un­der­stand the cul­ture and his­tory of the scenic spot and Laishui County. With the ap­pli­ca­tion of ad­vanced acous­tic and pho­to­elec­tric tech­nol­ogy and per­for­mance of ac­tors, the show il­lus­trates Ye­sanpo's glo­ri­ous his­tory and even the Yel­low River, from an­cient per­son­ages to mod­ern mar­tyrs.

Bax­ian Moun­tain, in Jizhou County, Tian­jin Mu­nic­i­pal­ity

Jul­ingxia Scenic Spot in East Ling­shan Moun­tain

Ye­sanpo Scenic Spot in Laishui County, He­bei Prov­ince

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