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         Four seasons in Mt. Huangshan

MT.Huangshan in east China's Anhui province is one of Chinas ten best-known scenic spots, It is characterized by the four wonders, namely, odd-shaped pines, grotesque rock formation, seas of clouds and crystal- clear hot springs. Mount Huangshan is celebrated for having all the features of mountain scenery. Known as the No. 1 Mountain Under heaven, it features numerous imposing peaks(77 exceed an altitude of 1,000m), forests of stone pillars and evergreen sturdy pines; other features include grotesquely-shaped rocks (many of which are individually named, such as "pig-headed monk eating water melon"), waterfalls, pools and hot springs. Because of its mists and clouds, natural scenery in the area changes beyond prediction. Xu Xiake, a noted Chinese geologist and traveler in Ming Dynasty, praised MT.Huangshan as the best of all mountains. Mount Huangshan was listed as one of the World Natural and Cultural Heritages in 1990.

Mount Huangshan extends 40 kilometers from south to north and 30 kilometers from east to west, covering an area of 1200 square kilometers, the highlights of which occupy 154 square kilometers. MT.Huangshan is a marvel: within an area of 154 square kilometers there is a crowd of peaks, 72 of which have names indicating the shapes they resemble. Lotus, Brightness Top and Celestial Capital are the three major ones, all rising above 1,800 meters above sea level. The mountains are a body of granite, often with vertical joints. Erosion and fracture contributed to shape the rocks into huge columns, giving rise to lofty peaks and deep ravines. When it is cloudy the pinnacles loom in mists as if they were illusionary, while the sun is shining they unfold in all their majesty and splendor. MT.Huangshan change its color and appearance with the alternation of seasons. In spring blooming flowers decorate the slopes in a riot of color and fill the valleys with fragrance; in summer you see verdure peaks rising one upon another and hear springs gurgling merrily. Autumn dresses the mountains in red and purple as maples and some other trees are blazing-red; winter turns them into a world of frost and ice with silver boughs and rocks everywhere. Here in Huangshan, pines and rocks are intimately involved with each other, almost every rock has a pine tree growing out of the crevice, and every tree has tortuous and gnarled roots and branches.The still sea of snow-white cloud can suddenly begin to roll and toss, rise or fall, gather or disperse while the peaks emerge and disappear in the clouds like isles in the ocean. So from ancient times it has been frequented by tourists seeking their mystery and admiring their frequented by tourists seeking their mystery and admiring their scenery. They come to the conclusion that the fantastic pines, the grotesque rocks , the sea of clouds and the hot springs are the four major attractions of the MT.Huangshans. As a matter of fact there are marvels almost everywhere, especially in the following scenic areas: Wenquan (Hot pring) , Yupinglou (Jade Screen Tower), Xihai ( West Sea), Beihai (North Sea), Yungusi (Cloud Valley Temple) and Songgu'an (Pine Valley Nunnery).

    There is plentiful rainfall in MT.Huangshan. Therefore there are thick forests.Owing to the peculiar terrain, the MT.Huangshan's climate is marked by a vertical change, and the vertical distribution of vegetation is also distinctive: plants on the summit, on the middle levels and at the foot belong to the frigid, temperate and subtropical zones respectively. There are more than 1500 species of plants, of which trees comprise one third. So the MT.Huangshan occupy an important place in China's botanical research. Here you will find century-old pines, firs, ginkgoes, actinidia, Chinese torreyas and camphor woods, remnants of the glacial era. A number of trees are celebrated on account of their age, grotesque shape, or precipitously perched position. Mount Huangshan abound in flowering plants; many of them are rare ones, such as Huangshan Rhododendron, magnolia as well as azalea, camellia, plum, lily, orchid, and so on. It has a rich store of medicinal herbs; more than 300 kinds are found here; the notable ones being glossy ganoderma ginseng, Chinese gold thread rhizome and Chinese cinnamon. Maofeng tea of Huangshan is well known at home and abroad.

    MT.Huangshans also provide the natural habitat for a wide variety of fauna. Among the animals there are monkeys, goats, deer, pangolin and squirrels. There are rare birds such as the red-billed leiothrix, the silver pheasant, the octave-tone bird and the oriole, all good singers. The red-billed leiothrix (called "love birds" in Chinese) are so lovely that they have become favorites of foreign tourists and are exported by pairs. Besides, chukkar(stone frog) from the streams is good to make delicious dishes with.

    Mt. Huangshan's climate is mild and humid, neither too hot in summer nor too cold in winter, the temperature is agreeable all the year round .

    It is cool in summer, averaging 70 °F at the North Sea Area ( 1 ,630 meters above sea) and 80 °F at Hot Spring Area (630 meters above sea) in July (the hottest month). As clouds often shut out the sun, hot weather never stays long, and this makes MT.Huangshans an ideal summer resort. Mt.Huangshan lies in subtropical zones, so it's not quiet cold in winter, at least, not so cold as some people expected. The temperature ranges from 25 °F to 40 °F, but it's enough to result in a fantastic snow scenery and a silver world with pines and precipitous peaks covered with snow and decorated with icicles.

    Today Mt. Huangshan has become a world-famous tourist attraction. With its convenient facilities: three cable lines, four three-star hotels on the top, all the paths paved with flat stones, it lures millions of visitors both from home and abroad. Seeing is believing. Welcome to Mount Huangshan.  

Each of the four seasons on Mt. Huangshan has their respective beauty but even this can vary from day to day thanks to variations in the weather, light and shade as clouds pass overhead and even around you at the higher reaches. This endless changing adds an emphasis to the wonder of the landscape and to know the mountain thoroughly, you would need to visit Mt. Huangshan in all the different seasons.

 Spring
Mt. Huangshan in spring is like a maiden - all is new, fresh and tender. Spring comes in April but its onset is delayed by three days for every 100 meters as you climb the mountain. Therefore, when wild flowers are brilliant and seedlings are shooting up at its foot, the plants half way up the mountain will be just awakening from their winter sleep and will not exhibit their beauty until a week later. The sound of birdsong is most pleasant in this quietness while you will be enchanted by the color changes as you climb your way up. Spring is probably the most propitious season for visiting Mt. Huangshan and is certainly the best time to view the many waterfalls due to the abundant precipitation.

 Summer
It is hard to resist the charm of the cool green mountain sides in summer when an exuberance of plant life covers the valleys and peaks with a green blanket. The green trees and ivy mingle to form natural pavilions where you can sit and refresh yourself while enjoying the beautiful scenery with a cooling breeze to sooth you.

Dawn in summer is most splendid as the rising sun lights the sky and the peaks and the plants and the whole world takes on a brilliant glow. After a storm, Mt. Huangshan becomes a world of water. Numerous streams and waterfalls compose an exciting and vigorous symphony. The Sea of Clouds during this season is not as vast as during autumn or winter but it revels in its brightness. If you are really lucky you will see a vivid rainbow flying over two peaks. Sunset is no less enchanting than sunrise. Mt. Huangshan in summer is the best resort in which to escape high temperatures of southern China.

Tips:
1. July and August are among the peak seasons therefore reservation is a must.
2. It is wise to bring a rainproof jacket with you as the strong wind on the mountain renders an umbrella all but useless and even dangerous.
3. Do not climb the mountain during thunderstorm.

 Autumn
Autumn on the mountain
is colorful due to the blue sky, white clouds, red maples and yellow fruits. At this time of the year the scenery can be compared with that of spring but with a mature beauty. If spring is like a bud ready to bloom, autumn is a flower showing its last significance before withering. Such is the beauty of the autumn scenery of Mt. Huangshan that it can be seen in many famous Chinese paintings.

Tips:
1.Besides the Golden Week of the National Day (Oct 1st to 7th), September and October are also peak seasons of Mt. Huangshan.

 Winter
Snowy Mt. Huangshan is like a crystal palace. Though winter lasts a long time in Huangshan, it is not as cold as you might expect. A poem has it that Mt. Huangshan is beautiful all year round but with the winter scenery being the best. The Sea of Clouds, one of the four wonders of Mt. Huangshan, appears more often in winter than in any other season. The spectacle of rimed trees sparkling in the sun is the privilege of winter alone for it is then that you may find yourself in a silver world with icy peaks, clusters of frosty corals suffused with a plentiful supply of the freshest of oxygen rich fresh air.

Travel tips:
1. Winter is the most economical time for visiting Mt. Huangshan as the prices for hotels and the entry fee are lowered by 15% to 40% compared to those of the peak season. However, Spring Festival is an exception, during which the price is the same as normal seasons.
2. The hotels are centrally heated so you don't have to worry about the cold.
3. Anti-skid shoes are provided as well as heavy coats in most hotels.

Transportation:

There is a cable car system running from Yungu monastery, the eastern reception center, up to Bai'e Feng on the Beihai, a distance of 2.7 km in eight minutes.

The Huangshan mountain massif covers an area of 154 sqkm. It can be reached by bus and car:
- from Hangzhou by car or bus straight to Wenquan, the Hot Springs (about eight hours),
- from the south by train to Jingdezhen (Jiangxi), by bus or by car to Tunxi,
- from Nanjing by car via Wuhu and Nanling or by train via Tongling, from there by car via Jingyang to Taiping,
- from Hefei by train to Yusikou, after crossing the Changjiang,
- from Wuhu by train or car, or by plane to Tunxi and then on by car.

Admission Fee: CNY 200 (Mar. 1-Nov.30)
CNY 120 (Dec.1-Feb.28 the next year)
Cable Car: Mar. 1-Nov.30:
CNY 80 (Single ticket for Cloud Valley)
CNY 80 (Single ticket for Jade Screen)
CNY 80 (Single ticket for Taiping);
Dec.1-Feb.28:
CNY 65 (Single ticket for Cloud Valley)
CNY 65 (Single ticket for Jade Screen)
CNY 65 (Single ticket for Taiping)
Opening Hours: 08:40 to 16:00
Recommended Time for a Visit: two or three nights

Kind Note and Good Ideas for Tourist :
 
1. Comfortable clothes and shoes are necessary while there will be a long time's walking and hiking.
2. We commend to take the chair lift up to (or down from) the Simatai wall.
3.Eat high-calorie food and bring some with you when climbing.
4. Bring mineral water with you. Do not drink too much when thirsty; just sip it to keep your mouth wet.
5. It is windy in the mountain and especially humid in summer, so prepare some warm clothes (even in summer).
6. Sometimes it rains on the mountain, so take along a plastic raincoat.
7.One or two days are not sufficient to visit all the sights that the Huangshan has to offer


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