Ancient Path in the Micangshan Mountain
By Huang Hong
Walking along a row of long stone ladders down to the river, everything in front of me seemed to be back to my childhood. I spent my childhood in a small town near a clear river where the carefree ducks fought for food and the clear and melodious sound of hammering clothes aroused a feel of intimacy. Here lies in the important bases of the Red Four regular army in the agrarian revolutionary war. Countless red army’s stone inscriptions and slogans and the old office sites are still preserved on the old streets. It was a pity that we had not been able to find a person who knows the local history. Of course, the regret had something to do with our anxiety to see the red leaves of the Guangwu Mountain. We bade farewell hurriedly to the quiet Enyang town of pristine beauty, and left for the Guangwu Mountain, the place where Micangshan Mountain lies that Zhuge Wu Hou once walked.
The Guangwu Mountain is located at the southern foot of the Micangshan Mountain at the intersection of Sichuan province and Shaanxi province. It covers an area of 250 square kilometers. It is said to be an ideal attraction for leisure traveling integrating pretty peaks and strange rocks, cliff valleys, ravine streams and waterfall ponds with pastoral countryside and mountains. Right now it was the golden autumn, a season full of red leaves. Thus, we couldn’t wait for that and got up early to drive to the Guangwu Mountain, a scenic region in the Nanjiang county from Bazhong.
The road from Bazhong to Nanjiang winds along the banks of the river with a forest of “Imperial Cypresses” on the way, erected upright on both sides of the road, which is one of the three sites of ancient cypress in China. Along the way, cypresses’ branches and stems of a dozen meters’ height shot into the air, stretching for two or three kilometers of distance.
Blankets of fog in the Guangwu Mountain are so famous that as many as 200 days a year are mist-shrouded while sunny days rarely appear. So on the way, we were all excited about the sun that was coming out overhead. Sadly, when we arrived in the town of Taoyuan, the sun not only had not come out, but hid well among the clouds.
We followed the new road to enter into the scenic region with a little regret. The road under the wheels was a two-lane concrete highway, looking smooth and clean. The well-proportioned folk houses lined on both sides of the road jumped into our eyes. The white wall stand in a sharp contrast to the gray tiles, which was undeniably a feast for the eyes. Behind the house, not far away stuck in the towering hills, with dark green mountains looking wet and fresh in the mist. The gleaming sunshine seduced the photographer’s desire. We were all in the mood of alternate feverishness, chagrin, sigh and excitement.
Arriving at the Taohua Villa, everybody went off the car, and the elderly Mr. Xu began to act feverishly as our tour guide. “Look, that’s the Tie Dao peak.” Exactly, opposite the parking lots, the peak looked really like axes as thin as a razor blade. “What is that like?” Xu asked us, pointing to a mountain on the west side of the Tie Dao peak. “Is it similar with Bei’Er Ge of Bashan?”As the Mr. Xu drew his finger, we could see a hill-large figure of “Bei’Er Ge” on the cliff along the road. “He” bent down his waist and stopped to take a short rest carrying his heavy basket on his back on a posture of “Ding Zi Guai”. You could even hear the hard, sharp thrusts of “his” breathing and the steaming heat on “his” head. This special “Bei’Er Ge” figure could be described as the biggest, most vivid and life like one.
We did not pass the front session of “Bei’Er Ge” that day. Instead, we chose to go up the mountain by way of the Yanzi Post house of the Taohua Villa. The new road was not wide enough to walk abreast with three or more. At the beginning of the journey, there was a lot of laughter among us. Only our guide Mr. Xu and Xiao Yang who carried lunch and mineral water on his shoulder all day long, did not talk too much. He insisted that we would face a tough day and it was essential to save physical strength. However, we just ignored their “brainwashing” advice, cracking jokes each other in a way that the newborn calves are not afraid of tigers. Unconsciously, we passed the top peak of the Yanziyan scenic spot — Nantian Gate.
It is easier to go downhill than to climb uphill. The downhill road were full of the 20-30-centimeter high, dense stone terraces. Having been bouncing and vivacious on the uphill path, our legs were so weak that I could hardly stand, especially when it came to the elderly Mr. Zhu and Chuanchuan whose various diseases related to leg relapsed and moved slowly step-by-step. What’s more, now and then they had to stop and do their photography work with the camera on the back, which forced them to walk more slowly. After a little while, Mr. Xu, Xiao Li and Xiao Yang all disappeared from our sight.
Until about three o’clock in the afternoon, when we reached the cherry trees at the bottom of the ditch, they were waiting for us with the already boiled water to soak the instant cup noodles. That cup was probably the most delicious bowl of instant noodles I had eaten.
After eating noodles, using the river water to quench the fire, we passed the bridge with round logs and came to the Micang ancient path that had been built with cement to replace the original dirt road available for two cruise cars traveling in parallel and also capable for the elderly Mr. Zhu’s domestic brand car Qijun only just passing by. Nevertheless, such a good road surface did not last long, when elderly Mr. Zhu and Chuanchuan just now was happy to say we would not have a tough journey, a fearsome stretch of road created by ancestor with their feet appeared again in front of us. The rugged road lying at the bottom of the valley along the river seemed far from finished. Both the elderly Mr. Zhu and Chuanchuan had to stand up and down by hand whenever we met ridges or river banks so that our self-driving journey turned into a self foot-setting journey.
On the way, we met with a team of “Bei’Er Ge” who had cements on their back to repair the road. When we saw them walk freely on the path that frightened me, a timely rest on the way reminded me of the cliff whose image resembled the “Bei’Er Ge” very much.
The dinner was held at the “Shan Cai Wang” restaurant next to the Taohua Villa that was the only time we had never enjoyed fish. It looked like a village household in Chengdu rather than a serious restaurant. The vegetables had just been brought back from the field ground, and the preserved bacon tasting quite delicious was made of big hogs fattened up by the organic manure in the farmyard. To our surprise, wild honey was also provided that our fellow villagers taken way from the mountain.
It was completely dark when we returned to the Taoyuan town, and a hot bath in Guangwushan hotel was so cool that I can hardly find words to describe it.
On the fourth day, we drove the Qijun car to the Nuoshui river, the newly-built road were in good condition. The morning sunshine intrigued everyone itchy to get off, especially our dear “camera holder” comrade the elderly Mr.zhu. Anyhow, the steering wheel was in his hand, whenever he said stop or leave, we followed him. On the way, all of us sighed that if only the weather yesterday has been as good as today’s. As we walked by and taken photos, we unconsciously traveled the highway to the junction of Sichuan province and Shaanxi province. It was agreed to have a picture taken as a souvenir on the boundary monument, for the purpose of commemorating a vast difference between the new cement road and the old dirt road and satisfying the vanity of “I have visited this place” with the Qijun car.
Arriving at the Tongjiang county town, we went to visit the old site of the Headquarters of the Red Fourth Army. It was a funny story to find this place. We drove the Qijun car around the Red Army Square for a long time but found nothing. Unexpectedly, the former site of the Headquarters was just above the Red Army Square. Due to the fact that the square was about five meters above the ground, we couldn’t see the building at all. The former site was once the Confucian Temple of the Nuojiang Town. During the period of 1932-1935, since Nuojiang Town was the Headquarters of the Fourth Army of the Chinese Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army, Xu Xiangqian and revolutionist in his generation had ever lived, worked, held military meetings, and commanded the military struggle in the Sichuan-Shaanxi revolutionary base areas here. Then in 1982, the History Exhibition Hall of the Sichuan-Shaanxi Revolutionary Base was set up and has collected thousands of pieces of cultural relics. Finally,it was renamed in 1993 to the present Memorial Hall of Headquarters of the Red Fourth Army.
Having received a patriotic education, we decided to raise political awareness and to eat fish to show our respect to the revolutionists. Consequently, the fish that was disappeared on yesterday’s dinner dishes was taken back on our table.
Originally, we intended to return to Chengdu today, but the rare good weather and the Southern Niches Cliffside Images retained our footsteps. This is a collection of more than 2400 statues gathering statues of almost all parties in Chinese Buddhism, such as Exotoric Buddhism, Esoteric Buddhism, the Pure-land School, etc. The style is characterized by common realism. An atmosphere of solemnity and reverence prevailed when you see the luxury, dramatically well-preserved statues that have smooth lines with fullness.
When we were on the way back to Chengdu, it was cloudy and foggy again in Bazhong. It seemed that the fog in Bazhong lasting more than 200 days a year lived up to its reputation.