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Misty Mountains
Text and photographs by Wang Lei

While driving along the winding mountain road, we enjoyed the fresh air that seemed to be infused with plentiful oxygen. Of course, on the slippery, air-moistened highway, we weren’t lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the legendary creature, but they could have been spying on us, safely hidden in the dense woods. Before long, we arrived at the highest point of the mountain: Shennong Peak. The fog became even heavier at the higher altitude, and when disembarking from the bus, we could hardly see a thing, leaving us to only imagine what incredible scenery lied below. Legend has it that the stream where Shennong Emperor once washed his herbs and medicinal plants is the origin of Xiangxi River. We did find a stream high in the mountains, and it was the most magnificent and roaring creek I’ve ever seen.

Not far away was the Shennongjia Wildlife Protection Base, where we had the chance to visit a snub-nosed monkey family. Although they were temporarily staying in large cages, the monkey family normally enjoyed a nice environment there. The babies slipped through cracks in the cages to frolic in the trees. In the dense forest surrounding the base live all of their monkey relatives.

With our fog accompaniment the whole way, combined with frequent stops to take in the beautiful clouds, the group felt exceptionally relaxed. We couldn’t help but appreciate the natural spa along the entire journey. 

      

Gorgeous Tenglong Cave

When leaving Shennongjia, we again took National Highway 209 back to Yichang and the Shanghai-Chengdu Highway. Heading towards Enshi City, we anticipated an exciting journey ahead. Along the way, we passed several stunning bridges including Tanhe River Highway Bridge, which spans Phoenix and Shanglandping Mountains in Langping Town, Changyang Tujia Autonomous County. After the 200-kilometer journey, we arrived at Enshi City at 5:00 p.m. From there, we drove another hour before reaching Tenglong Cave, considered to have some of China’s most beautiful landscapes.

The cave stretches over 50 kilometers long with a 74-meter-tall and 64-meter-wide mouth. Inside, its caverns reach as tall as 235 meters, with total area of more than two million square meters. Within the cave are five hills, 10 caverns, and a dozen waterfalls. With the temperature ranging from about 14 to 18 degrees Celsius year round, the cave features a pleasant climate most of the time. In 1988, after spending 32 days investigating in the field, 25 experts from China and abroad concluded that Tenglong is China’s largest known karst cave and amongst the world’s largest. During the investigation, scientists found new karst cave groups nearby including Tianchuang Cave, Liujia Cave, Shujing Cave, and Longgu Cave which leads to an underground river — all noted as breathtaking scenic spots worth exploring.

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