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Camping Under the Clouds

2007-06-22

Craggy peaks topped by bonsaied cypresses tower above lush summer growth at Yunmengshan ("Cloud Covered Mountain"), offering a scene reminiscent of a traditional ink painting. Straddling Miyun County and Huairou District, it's about 85km from Beijing .

The park boasts a dense forest offering more than 100 varieties of trees, and contains a wild botanical garden that overlooks the western shore of Miyun Reservoir. With one of the region's most diverse landscapes, Yunmengshan caters to a wide range of visitors, from families and neophyte hikers to more experienced camping and hiking enthusiasts, who come for the fresh air, relative solitude and the sight of a star-filled sky.
The climb along a clear path to the mountain's highest peak - at 1,414 meters above sea level - is fairly easy and takes around five hours, depending on your pace. It's a delight for the eyes, with its large boulders, steep waterfalls, streams and ponds, and, if you're lucky, roe deer.
The views from atop the mountain - sometimes called "little Huangshan" after Anhui's famous peak - are magnificent. On a very clear day, you can see as far as downtown Beijing. The park's campsite is available to visitors free of charge, and consists of a somewhat desolate barracks in a clearing in the middle of the forest. While they may not be that homely, the buildings do offer good shelter against cold weather and storms.
Scattered on the floor inside are branches and small logs - fuel for a campfire around which you and your friends can share ghost stories, recite Chinese folk tales or sing songs until the break of dawn. History buffs may wish to discuss Gui Gu Zi, a scholar during the Warring States era <475-221 BC> who lived in the area and taught the great diplomats Su Qin and Zhang Yi and military strategists Sun Bin and Pang Juan. To make the evening pleasantly memorable, don't forget to bring tents, sleeping bags, matches and flashlights - and remember to ask for directions to the campsite from the park's gate.
If you'd rather stay indoors, local accommodation options include the Yunmeng Mountain Village, a modern hotel, which has standard rooms for RMB 300 and serves dishes featuring wild herbs grown on the mountain. Other small hotels nearby offer cheap rooms with prices ranging from RMB 20-160.


(Source:That's Beijing June 22, 2007, 2007-06-22)