2014 BEGINS: Day 137, Monday January 13 2014

The air had cleared considerably so we decided to go on a hike. We climbed the mountain by the sports complex which proved to be much larger then expected. The mountain went back farther and farther. The hike started in an orchard that stretched across the top of the mountain. 

Beyond the orchard was a large field barren of trees. In their place were brick columns built in square shapes with long concrete slabs resting on top of them. The structure did not look like it had been there long, but already the mortar was crumbling and bricks were coming loose. Some of the pillars had fallen down, laying in a heap with cracked slabs of concrete laying next to them. We thought it may have some sort of agricultural function, but the ground below did not appear to be worked, and no vines dead or alive clung to the brick work.

Leaving the mysterious structure to its secrets Nate and I scrambled up a pile of loose shale. Onwards we went entering through thick layers of cedar trees. We could hear the road below us but couldn’t see it. Small gated gardens, their crops long harvested, the husks of the yield left to wither in rows, began to appear along the path. Dirt foot paths led up to them.

Ahead, peeking through the grey brown (trunks) of trees was a tomb stone marking a small collection of graves. A pile of half rotten oranges and strawberries decorated the foot of one mound. Yellow papers, weighed down by rocks, had been placed in a row on the other mounds giving them the appearance of the scaly spine of a dragon. An empty baijiu bottle lay tipped on it’s side not far away.

A large and beautiful garden lay below us. Up we went, up, up, up. We climbed a pile of rocks where we stopped for a break and a snack before heading back down. We could see an ominous, dark cloud of smog twisting it’s way through the mountains. It was blowing in fast. We found a way down by the tunnel, and then caught a bus home from there. We crossed through the tunnel to get to the bus stop, the echo was defining. Never mind the honking, just the sound of engines was bad enough.

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