Hiking Shipton’s Arch
After trekking the Taklamakan just two days prior, we found ourselves on another morning heading up a snow covered mountain trail to see Shipton’s Arch. To begin, we drove about an hour and a half outside of Kashgar towards very dry, rugged looking mountains. As we moved along, my perception of the landscape was almost as if I was in Star Wars movie, venturing through Tatooine.
Before we took off hiking, none of us were expecting snow. But, as we drove higher and higher, we started to notice how much snow had still not melted. The dry landscape turned into a beautiful winter scenery. Our tour guide had not expected this either, but decided we were still going to try and hike the mountain. As we reached the start of the trail, you could feel the air getting thinner and the temperature drop.
Overall, the hike was only about 2 miles to the top, the conditions made it difficult, and the difficulty made the end so much more fulfilling. At first the incline on the slope was not too intense, but, as we stepped, we were often falling through the couple feet of snow that covered the ground. Once we got to a certain point where the incline intensified and some student’s feet became cold due to being soaked from the snow, 4 decided to drop out and head back to the bus. Most of us were able to make it, though and the feeling was tremendous. Pictures alone cannot explain my complete mood in that moment. At the top of the mountain, on the lookout deck, there was still the chance of one misstep and you falling down the mountain or into the oblivion of the arch. That sounds terrifying, but that feeling along with the view were what really captured and described this moment for me. If you ever can make it to Kashgar, this is a must visit.