I Climbed Mount Tai Alone in 2011
Taken on Tai mountain in 2011
Taken on Tai mountain in 2011

In July 2011, during the school summer vacation, I left school and boarded the Bohai Ferry, undergoing a six-hour journey across the sea to arrive in Yantai. Whether I stayed in Yantai overnight, I don’t recall now. Soon after, I took a train from Yantai to Tai’an. Climbing Mount Tai had been planned for a long time before this.

Of course, I had heard of Mount Tai before, but I had never planned to visit it. This time, after watching a documentary about Mount Tai, I finally made the decision to climb it. I went alone.

After arriving in Tai’an, I stayed in a hotel not far from Mount Tai. After resting for a night, early the next morning, I took a bus to the foot of the mountain. It was called the Red Gate, right? Locals said it’s where most people start climbing.


The weather was gloomy that day. The higher I climbed, the thicker the mist became. It might have even rained a bit, but I don’t remember. I just kept walking up, accompanied by other tourists, by the stone tablets along the way, and by the weeds and tall trees on both sides. A woman in a thin black coat sat on a rock in front of me. She was probably holding a walking stick and wearing sunglasses. She seemed to be alone. Her movements were slow, as if she were carefully feeling the air, inscriptions, vegetation, and the stream of tourists on the mountain. I was deeply attracted to the temperament of this woman at that time, and later, the first girlfriend I met was just like her.

I chose to descend from the other side of the mountain because I didn’t want to take the cable car and didn’t want to go back the same way. However, the result of this choice was that I walked non-stop from noon until evening, and from evening until midnight. Did I have a smartphone map? Probably not. I just followed the direction indicated by the signs on the roadside and tried to walk towards the direction of the highway. Finally, I reached the expressway leading to Jinan. I stood by the roadside, feeling lost.

Feeling a bit anxious, I calculated my next move. I thought maybe I would continue walking along the highway. Where would I end up? I didn’t care, as long as I could reach a place with public transportation or where I could hail a taxi, I wouldn’t have to worry.

I stood by the roadside, waving at passing vehicles, and finally, a private car (or was it a taxi? I didn’t know) approached me and stopped in front of me. The driver rolled down the window and looked at me.

“How did you end up here?” he asked me in surprise.

“I came down from the mountain and walked here.”

“You’re quite something. You’re almost in Jinan.”

“Haha, really?”

“Well, how about this, where are you staying? I was supposed to take someone to Jinan, so how about I drop you off first? You can’t get a taxi here anyway.”

I told him the location of the hotel I was staying at.

After negotiating the price with him, I got into his car, and he turned the car around and drove towards where I was staying.

It was a plain and unremarkable mountain climbing trip, with only a few fleeting images remembered: the woman sitting on the rock, the elderly man who rummaged through my backpack while I was away taking photos, and then this driver. But it was also a realization of a dream. I wanted to see the place depicted in that documentary myself, so the journey was filled with anticipation and doubt, always asking myself, “Is it really like this?” But it was also a bold attempt to complete a journey in a solitary way.

That was 2011, and I was 22 years old.