The hike up Tai Shan

So while in China I got the chance to hike up Tai Shan. It was extemely wild.

Tai Shan is a mountain in the Shandong province, just south of the capital city Ji’nan. It’s famous because many many emperor’s and notables climbed it. Each one was so impressed with the mountain’s spiritual beauty that they built tons of temples, gates, and plaques along the way.

I was excited.

The night before the customer was bringing me to the mountain, I prepared my bag, lunch, and gear so I’d be ready first thing in the morning. As I lay down to sleep I felt a little nauseus. A few hours later I was curled over the toilet seat wretching out the contents of my fragile stomach. By 6 AM I had had one hour of sleep and my alarm was blaring.

I picked up the phone and called a Chinese associate with mediocre English skills.

“I can’t do it. I can’t climb Tai Shan. I am very sick.”
“okay, I’ll call customer.”

a few minutes later there was a knock on my door, it was my associate.

“it’s okay mike, they probably won’t run pipe today. Your ride will be here in 30 minutes.”
“what?! no no, I’m SICK. vomiting. throwing up.”
“I don’t understand.”
“very ill!” I made the international sign for vomitting.
“oh bad health!”
“well, it’s too late to cancel, they will arrive at 7.”

So I nervously packed up my stuff and went down to meet the customer at 7am. We drove to Tai Shan and didn’t start the hike up this 5000 footer until 2pm. (this seemed late to me… I’m not sure what they were thinking)

The mountain was extremely strange. The entire path up the mountain was paved with huge stone blocks. The path was either very level or very steep stairs. It wasn’t long before my calves were screaming for mercy.

This must have taken a lot of effort to build

But they got no mercy. Especially in the last 1000 feet or so which was pretty much non-stop staircases. Thankfully my stomach had mostly settled so there was no vomitting on the mountain.

There were many highlights to the trip, including this next photo which shows me with a few trees that were promoted to General.

I kid you not. Apparently an emperor was climbing Tai Shan when a storm hit. He took shelter under these trees and then as an act of thanks promoted them to general.

I have never had my picture taken with a general before


The whole mountain was commercialized to the extreme. Restuarants and rest stops were along each side of the path the whole way up. And at the top of the mountain there was a whole community of shops and temples. It was gorgeous and well worth the four hour hike and the burning calves.

The hike down was arduous. The steep steps were pretty dangerous and we didn’t reach the bottom until well after 9pm. We had to hike with the light of a cell phone.

Even in the dark people were starting up the mountain. Apparently the mountain is famous for its sunrise and many people hike up at night and stay in the lodging along the way so that they can be at the sunrise rock first thing in the morning.

If you ever get a chance to go to the Shandong province, I would definitely recommend spending a day at Tai Shan.

One thought on “The hike up Tai Shan

  • 8/4/2006 at 7:26 am

    Imagine the commute if you work at the top of a mountain? Whew!


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