We took the recommendation of Bill Weir and Alice and Andoni, cyclists we’d met way back in Almaty in 2005, and took a back road rather than Highway 214 to Tiger Leaping Gorge. We had at least one climb each day, one day we had three climbs totaling about 18 kilometers. The road is now paved except for washouts and we had very light traffic and beautiful views. Villages along the way were full of hard-working but friendly people eager to say “Hello!”. Coming the backway into Tiger Leaping Gorge was more fun because we didn’t feel so much a part of the tourist hordes. The big rock slide blocked vehicle traffic so we had the gorge to ourselves for most of the morning.
The main reason we went the longer, back way to Lijiang was that I (Claire) wanted to see the travertine terraces at Bai Shui Tai. Unlike at Havasupai, these terraces are perched on a hillside, rather than in a canyon.
Dahlias grow everywhere.
The expansive valleys on this route were stunning; deep enough that we couldn’t see all the way to the bottom.