We got up early to beat the crowds only to realize that you don't beat the crowds in China.
Everybody is up, in their tour group, and on the go. And everybody seems to be having a good time. Wulingyuan is a national park, but not like any park we have been to in the US. It is much more developed and everybody even goes through turnstiles to get in: we buy a plastic ticket like a credit card and they take our thumbprint which is then checked against the card every time we go through the turnstiles. Inside, all the paths are limestone pavers, and all grade changes are steps – every path that goes up and down, has steps. We took a tram to the top of one crag and then walked down – it turned out to be thousands and thousands of steps. Our knees and legs were ruined. But, before we walked down, we decided to check out a tea house overlooking the valley-
only to run into a typical crowd scene of people renting "minority group"
clothing and having their picture taken. It was not a nature experience, but it was great fun to watch.
Then we started down the stairs, and down, and down; along with thousand of other people and past begging (and sometimes attacking) monkeys.
We spent the major part of one day walking down a trail next to a stream through a gorgeous canyon. Michele said This is the most beautiful place I have ever been and I allowed that it wasn't more beautiful than Zion. Michele said Yea, except that it has wild Azaleas and Irises everywhere and monkeys. This is very true. Wulingyuan has the sane kind of beauty as Yosemite valley or Zion: we are in tree filled valleys looking up at the canyon walls. Here the walls are crags and pinnacles of quartzite, red in a lot of places, with trees leafing out in bright green, and lot of pink Azaleas. It is stunning.