I had hired a professional guide from Xi'an, Linda Guolz, to accompany me during 8 days of travel in Shaanxi Province, telling her in advance of my arrival the places I wished to visit, including the Cuihua Mountains. For this trip Linda hired a car and drove us to the park. We left the car and travelled the 6 kilometres up to Sky Lake in a park shuttle bus. Linda had been to the lake with her parents as a child, but this was the first time she had accompanied a tourist on the mountain climb. It was during a period of really hot days when the temperature neared 100F each day. There was no breeze. I am 73 years of age, reasonably fit, but not used to such constant climbing of steps, so had to take it steadily. It was well worth the effort. Acting on advice of others that we met at the peak, we took another route down the mountain. We were told it was a more direct route - true if going to the car park, but it did not lead back to the lake. By the time we realized our mistake we were committed. I had carried adequate water, but no food. My legs became leaden due to lack of carbohydrates and I was in real pain by the time we reached the base of the reservoir where food venders were selling their wares. I bought a bottle of Cola to get some sugar into my system and a bowl of hot rice and bean porridge.
The climb to the mountain peaks was definitely worth the effort, but I would recommend that in addition to water, some nourishing food be carried.
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