Photographer and backpacker Mark Griffith returned recently from living in China. While he was there he visited Yunnan province and returned with this report.

Adventuring to Yunnan, China

Our group traveled to Yunnan and the mountains south of Tibet. We were headed to a tiny village called Yubeng that is situated in a valley below Meili mountain where we planned to go hiking and do a little backpacking. There are no roads to Yubeng so getting there would be journey itself.

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The Pass at 14K

We drove up over a pass between Benzilan and Feilaisi at 14,100 feet, just 300 feet shy of my personal elevation record on Rainier. Air is thin up there.

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Temple at Feilaisi

A green wheat field in front of the Feilaisi temple in the town of Feilaisi. (Si means temple in Chinese so its a bit redundant). We arrived here 12 hours after we initially started driving over the pass.


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Night Sky Feilaisi

After dinner we walked around town, heading up the road to the small Feilai Temple, where the town gets its name. The Stupa against the night sky in clouds at the viewing platform at Feilaisi.


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Behind the Shroud

The sacred mountains of Meili from the viewing platform at Feilaisi. We were sitting eating breakfast thinking that the sunrise was a bust and the then the skies cleared a bit and we got some glimpses of the mountain.


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Upper Yubeng Valley

The only way in is to hike, there are no roads. There is electricity, and cell service via China Mobile during the day (it goes out at night). There is water from the glaciers in the mountains above. They kill a pig once a week and around 80% of the village is also Tibetan. We spent a day getting in and a day getting out and 4 days hiking and relaxing.

We hired two mules to carry our 4 bags and our bag of group gear over the pass to Yubeng, for insurance sake we hired one more mule to follow us just in case someone pooped out on the trail and they needed a ride. (No one did).


This woman was carrying fresh cut grass to feed her donkeys and horses. I chatted with her as she climbed over. I told her she was hard working and her response was, “it’s nothing.”

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Mani Piles

Not cairns at all actually but sacred mani stones. I always thought these were just rock stacking that someone in Washington came up with. I had no idea they had spiritual significance for Tibetans.


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View of Ramon, Chao and Josh in the fog on a steep hillside around 13,700 feet above sea level as we made our way to the meadow below Holy Lake where we’d camp for the night.

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