Baishui: White Water Terraces 白水台

Baishuitai Terraces

Yunnan Province

People’s Republic of China

June 4, 2014

Dear Friends,

Can you imagine my shock, when after a lengthy and strenuous hike, my driver holding my arm to provide support as we climbed up and up and up the “wobbly” steps and up and up and up the steep gravel path (I was dizzy from the heat and the thin air) I finally arrived at the White-Water travertine terraces and asked breathlessly, “Have I returned to Turkey?  Have I returned to Pamukkale?”

In November, 2009 I climbed and waded through the watery travertine terraces at Pamukkale in western Turkey.  I proclaimed at the time, “The terraces are ‘unique.’”  Please forgive me.   I was wrong.   The terraces are rare, but not unique.

“Only in very few places in the world, well spread across the globe, geothermal waters have done their magic creating terraced hillside pools in a large scale, sometimes of crazy colors, for the joy of landscape photographers and postcard sellers.

Basically, hot springs eroding rocks high in minerals end up forming deposits of travertine. But to get this shape, like a succession of cascades, the conditions have to be very specific to allow water over-saturated with calcium to sediment into series of small stone dams.” *

Despite the fact that I am neither a landscape photographer nor a postcard seller, the vigorous climb was well worth the effort.  (I did need to rest in the shade to recover.)   And since the White-Water Terraces are deep within Tiger Leaping Gorge, there are few visitors.

Just two questions.  Where is my driver?  And how the hell am I going to get down the mountain?



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