Got up early. Took minibus from hostel with a group of very lovely Koreans to Tina's Guesthouse at the start of the Tiger Leaping Gorge trail.
Walking the part of the trail to the highest point (a section known as the 28 bends – I didn't meet anyone who had managed to remember to count), I was struggling to both see where I was going and follow the trail. At every turn, I'd have to stop and look around to see where the trail went next, and even though it was reasonably clear, it would still take me a few seconds to work it out. Also, my lungs were heaving to bring in enough oxygen. Initially I was confused about it – my legs felt fine, I had plenty of energy, I was definitely fit enough.
Why was it so hard?
One of the great things about altitude sickness is that it's a really good excuse for not realising you have altitude sickness...
I told Scott to take the lead, so I could follow him. It reduced the number of things I had to do to putting one foot in front of the other, and breathing. That was manageable. And so we continued the highest point, and one of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen.
After that, the route passed through a more wooded area. The baking sun was blocked by the trees, and we had several hours of pleasant woodland trail until reaching the Tea Horse guesthouse.
We indulged in a beer, but decided to keep going to Halfway House in order to have enough time the next day to walk the extra part of the trail down to the gorge itself.
Sadly, at this point I realised I'd lost my towel somewhere along the route. (No, I don't know how I managed that either.) The view from the room wasn't bad, though.
Day two was similar terrain, but for some reason we took about three wrong turns first thing, which delayed us slightly. After that, it was fairly easy going to Tina's. The route down to the gorge is trickier than most of the actual trail, and certainly steeper, but it is more than worth the effort.
We got back to Tina's at half past two. Halfway through my lunch, I was called for the bus to Shangri-La, which was leaving an hour early.
They let me finish my lunch, though.