Shilin: The Stone Forest


Yunnan Province


May 28, 2014

Dear Friends and lovers of poetry,

“Something there is that truly loves a stair.”    

With apologies to Robert Frost, I adhere to my “stair” formula wherever I travel.   See a stair? Climb!  Explore.  Discover.  “Good stairs make good adventures.” *

Except today, I got in trouble.

About 120k Southeast of Kunming, in the Shilin area, the picturesque and level grounds of the Stone Forest invite tourists young and old to admire the unique, bizarre and photogenic karst  geology formations.

After a comfortable ramble along the proper paths, and a chat or two with other (sane) visitors, I spot a stair.   Without hesitation I ascend alone into the Stone Forest Mountain.  Up and down through defiles and notches, I climb the stone path through an array of massive boulders and stone towers eroded into a variety of exotic shapes.  So far, a wonderful adventure.

After an hour of strenuous climbing I decide to return.  But which way?  No signs anywhere.  So I backtrack.   Oops, wrong way.   I end up at the same cul de sac I had seen before.   OK, the other way.  No luck.  Now, both my energy and my water supply are slowly draining away.

Next strategy…..”Hello!”  “Hello!”   No response.

Next strategy….`”HELLO!” “HELLO!”  Face it, I am alone.

I keep walking and FINALLY I see a sign.  There’s a direction for the Exit, but the sign is ambiguous, so of course I head in the wrong direction.  Will I ever emerge from this stone hell?

 Back to the sign, I head the other direction and then another sign appears! 

In two minutes, I’m back on level ground and chatting again with rational human beings.

Happy and relieved now, I repeat to myself my (Frost’s?) closing line, “Good stairs make truly excellent adventures!”

Your wacko friend,


PS  At the foot of the stairs there’s a map that indicates that the trail is a circumnavigation of the Stone Mountain.   Naturally, in my haste and enthusiasm, I missed it.   

*Mending Wall, by Robert Frost:




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