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Grand Canyon West Huangshan

The Xihai, or West Sea, Scenic Area offers some of the most beautiful, most enthralling landscapes on Yellow Mountain. Covering some of Yellow Mountain's most prime scenery, including the West Sea Grand Canyon itself, the V-shaped West Sea Grand Canyon tour presents the visitor with some spectacular, if not breath-taking -- sometimes quite literally, panoramas as well as views of a number of unique and bizzarely shaped rock formations with imaginative nicknames such as Upside-Down Boot, Lady Playing the Piano, Dog Watching the Sky, and Man Walking on Stilts. In addition, the visitor can behold several cloud-bathed peaks such as Archway Peak, Double Bamboo-Shoot Peak, Nine-Dragons Peak, Pine-Forest Peak, Stone-Bed Peak, and Stone-Pillar Peak.

The two entrances/ exits of the West Sea Grand Canyon tour are the Walking Fairyland Bridge in the south and the Cloud-Dispelling Pavilion in the north. These have elevations of 1320 m and 1430 m above sea level, respectively, while the canyon floor at Tianhai is at 600 m above sea level. Beginning at either of the two entrances, the visitor must cover a distance of about 9½ km in all -- a hike of about 4 hrs -- in order to complete the "V" of the West Sea Grand Canyon tour. For example, a complete tour beginning at the Cloud-Dispelling Pavilion involves a 4½ km hike to Walking Fairyland Bridge, where one has a spectacular view of the canyon, and then on to the canyon floor itself at Tianhai (Haixin Pavilion), which corresponds, roughly, to the "bottom" point of the tour's "V".

As this involves a relatively sharp descent, the sourrounding cliffs and peaks appear to extend higher and higher. Majestically tall -- and verdant, due to the ideal climatic conditions -- pine trees are to be seen everywhere, some being so old that the local people have lovingly given them names. The scenery changes as one proceeds along this route, which, in some places, is along a sheer drop, though protected by a barrier. From the bottom of the canyon floor one proceeds back along the other leg of the "V" towards the exit at the White Cloud Area (alternatively, one can take the reverse route).

The complete, entrance-to-exit West Sea Grand Canyon tour is a demanding hike that is decidedly not for the frail or faint of heart. For those who require a less-rigorous hike, an easier option would be to follow only a portion of the route from either entrance, then return to that entrance point along the same route. Under all circumstances, the visitor should definitely follow a portion of the hike, as it will provide stunning imagery that will last a lifetime.

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Huangshan Mountain, Anhui, China
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