Trekking Ta Xua - Yen Bai
Trekking Ta Xua - Yen Bai

Trekking Ta Xua - Yen Bai

The Ta Xua Mountain, 2,865m above sea level, is in Tram Tau District, Yen Bai Province. The Ta Xua Mountain is the 10th highest mountain peak in Vietnam but climbing this mountain is widely considered the most difficult of all mountain-climbing adventures in Vietnam.

 A trip to the Ta Xua Mountain had been in my plan for years. Photos of the amazing peaks amid an ocean of clouds, the mossy trees in a forest like in fairy tales, breathtaking views of mountains and valleys… are so gorgeous and inspiring. Work and life are busy, and finding the time when the weather is nice and when I can get off from work is not easy.

Then came a summer, the hottest summer of my life I bet, that I looked at the weather forecast and found that the coming days were about to be the hottest of the summer! It was white hot when you walked in the streets of Hanoi at mid day, just like you were on the brim of a glowing oven! Well, it was high time to go somewhere for a while.

The countryside on the outskirt of Hanoi
The countryside on the outskirt of Hanoi

It was about 40oC in Yen Bai at the time and It was not a great idea to go mountain-climbing in the province for certain. But that was the best option available for me then. Wrapping up work and packing up did not take much time and I had the morning just as relaxing as usual: coffee and finishing work. The sun rose early and was really bright. It was definitely a hot day and what could be nicer than running away from the city heat! It was late in the morning and it was hot; that was when I departed for another adventure of life!

Countryside at Phu Tho
The countryside at Phu Tho

It took quite a while to get out of the city with lots of construction and jam-packed streets under the scorching sun into the peaceful countryside to the northwest. Out here, roads were almost empty as people were taking shelter indoors. And it was that hot all day until I descended into the Muong Lo Valley. Sunlight was weaker and the air temperatures quickly got more pleasant. The omnipresent green colors made it so pleasant to the eyes.

Lovely country at Van Chan, Yen Bai
Lovely country at Van Chan, Yen Bai

 

The road amid mountains to Tram Tau, Yen Bai
The road amid mountains to Tram Tau, Yen Bai

The small road to Tram Tau goes up gently making its way along a river and flanked by two ranges of high mountains on the two sides. All was a peaceful landscape save the noise by the running waters of the river. The rice terraces on the mountain slopes were dry still. Tram Tau Township is small and had no change compared to my last trip. I proceeded straight to the hotel and had a lovely rest. It could be hot in daytime but as soon as night falls the temperatures are lovely in the mountains. A light dinner and early bedtime were best preparations for the adventure tomorrow.

Dry terraces near Tram Tau, Yen Bai
Dry terraces near Tram Tau, Yen Bai

 

A scenic mountain view near Tram Tau, Yen Bai
A scenic mountain view near Tram Tau, Yen Bai

 

Road to Tram Tau on mountainsides
Road to Tram Tau on mountainsides

The local guide called me up when I was in my half sleep; it was not too good a night but not too bad either. After a quick breakfast, we set off into the mountains at 0715 A.M. The sun was bright showing another hot day. Yeah, it was still much better than a rainy day.

A paved path to the Ta Xua Village
A paved path to the Ta Xua Village

 

Rice terraces near the Ta Xua Village
Rice terraces near the Ta Xua Village

 

Natural landscape near the Ta Xua Mountain
Natural landscape near the Ta Xua Mountain

 

Rice terraces at the Ta Xua Village
Rice terraces at the Ta Xua Village

The peak of Ta Xua is 17km from from Tram Tau. The first leg is 5km to the Ta Xua Village perched high on a mountain slope. The steep dirt path to the village would have been fatally slippery in a rain. There were green rice terraces all the way to the village.

The dirt path to the Ta Xua Village
The dirt path to the Ta Xua Village

 

The starting point of the trek to the summit of the Ta Xua Mountain
The starting point of the trek to the summit of the Ta Xua Mountain

The trek started at the village with steep 45-degree gradients, one after another and we would have to do it for the next 7 hours to the first hut tonight. The first peak near the first hut is about 5-6km from the village.

The even path on the trek at the Ta Xua Mountain
The even path on the trek at the Ta Xua Mountain

The first 30 minutes’ hike was with only low bushes by the sides and I could turn around to have a glimpse of the small path that we took to get here. Then we were in a thin forest with some trees which did not help much in providing shade from the strong sunshine which was getting more intense. The path was steep but the villagers had made steps recently which made it much easier to hike up. Through the foliage we could get some nice views of the villages and valleys.

A thin wood on the Ta Xua Mountain
A thin wood on the Ta Xua Mountain

After 2 hours’ hike we came out in the open again with only low bushes around, the path got even steeper without any step. Without rain it was bad enough; it would be horrendous if it were in a rain. The trick was that there was no reliable trees that we could grab. Had we had a trip or slip, then it would be more like a free fall!

A slippery path at Ta Xua
A slippery path at Ta Xua

After 3 hours’ struggling up, then we felt we were nearly as high as the mountains around us. The views of more spectacular and the temperatures were much more pleasant. The winds were stronger up here too. We were in no hurry and took time to rest and adore the splendid landscape. The scenery would have been different had it be in the season of clouds for sure.

A mountain view through foliage
A mountain view through foliage

The path was tiny and strewn with rocks sometimes. There were trees and plant roots on the way which was of great help to us. There were suddenly clouds on the nearby mountain peaks which made it a bit of mystery.

A rock-strewn path at Ta Xua
A rock-strewn path at Ta Xua

After 4 hours and a half hiking, we found ourselves on a steep mountainside with low fern bushes mostly. My guide said it was the Turtle Head Boulder. That was a good point for adoring the surrounding landscape and for lunch. The sun was strong, so were the winds. The feel was really lovely. We spent half an hour sitting on the rock trying to pose for tons of photographs showing our teeth. We were really happy!

A mountain view on the trek at Ta Xua
A mountain view on the trek at Ta Xua

 

Another slippery path at Ta Xua
Another slippery path at Ta Xua

 

More of the steep trekking path
More of the steep trekking path

 

Steep and slippery a path without anything to cling to
Steep and slippery a path without anything to cling to

 

More rocks on the trekking path
More rocks on the trekking path

 

A lovely mountain view
A lovely mountain view

 

The Turtle Head Boulder
The Turtle Head Boulder

 

Lovely spot for adoring the sublime nature around
Lovely spot for adoring the sublime nature around

I could have had a nap had the guide not told me to move on after lunch. The path still went up with more low bushes but it was not as steep and not as slippery as earlier. The hike was much easier and I didn’t feel strained with my knees as earlier.

The last leg of the hike to the first hut
The last leg of the hike to the first hut

We walked for the next 2 hours from the boulder then the terrain turned mostly flat and there were head-high thick bamboo bushes around us. The temperatures were really cool that I could feel the chill, and we came to face a menacing and imposing mountain range of which the peak was wrapped in thick fog. My guide said it was where we were heading!

It was where we were heading tonight
It was where we were heading tonight

Yes, we had had a high ambition to conquer the three peaks of the Ta Xua Mountain in 3 days and 2 nights. For a moment, I suddenly felt unsure if could make it. This rarely occurred on my adventures but I was pretty sure that my gut feeling was guiding me to make the right decision…

The hut on the first peak of the Ta Xua Mountain
The hut on the first peak of the Ta Xua Mountain

The fogs were swirling in columns and the sky turned dark. I felt the whole universe was whirling at a rapid pace and the earth where we stood on were like moving, too… This took place for a while, then the fogs disappeared, and the sky turned bright again. The winds kept on howling and I had a tremble strolling leisurely to the hut which was just nearby.