Lake at Jiuzhaigou - J.H. Wittke


Jiuzhaigou, a World Heritage Site, consists of two glacial valleys that join at the lower northern end of the park. The name means "Nine Stockade Valley," referring to the number of Tibetan settlements in the area, which are surrounded by wooden palisades. The valleys were revealed to the outside world in 1966 during timber surveys of the Min Shan by the insatiable Chinese Bureau of Forestry and Industry. However, Jiuzhaigou escaped the fate of other pristine forested regions when the government declared it a natural reserve in 1978 and, recognizing the valley's tourist potential, a national scenic spot in 1982. The Jiuzhaigou Wikipedia entry provides extensive details about the valley.

Nuorilang Falls at Jiuzhaigou - J.H. Wittke


Legend has it that the goddess Semo shattered her looking glass, and the fragments formed the crystalline lakes and pools of the valley. The upper reaches of Jiuzhaigou are magnificent, a series of grand waterfalls separating limpid lakes. Nuorilang Waterfall is a wide semicircle of braided cascades stretching across the mouth of a tributary valley. The 24-m-high (80') falls stretch for 170 m (560') across the side valley with tranquil lakes perched at their top. The upper lakes are 20 m deep; Nuorilang Waterfall is produced by a high narrow travertine divider.

Five Flowers Lake at Jiuzhaigou - J.H. Wittke


Five Flowers Lake is a crystal pool of amazing turquoise blue. The water is transparent and fallen trees and logs lurk beneath the surface. Like giants toppled into the clear pool, they have undergone a Shakespearean sea-change, and are encrusted in death with travertine. The forested slopes of the surrounding mountains rise precipitously above the lake, framed by an azure sky; the reflection of Woluosemo Peak, which is 4136 m (13,570'), shimmers on the limpid waters.

Pearl Beach Falls at Jiuzhaigou - J.H. Wittke


A wooden boardwalk crosses the yellow-orange travertine plain above the crashing waters of Pearl Shoals Falls. Despite their hard rocky surfaces, the Chinese call these features "Golden Sands." Dwarf willows line the walkways, small flowers springing from beneath their shade. Dark pines and firs embrace the wide stream, and its waters sparkle in the bright sun against the somber impenetrable green of the forest. The air is cool and moist and moss covers the rocks and tree trunks. The calcareous waters have produced strange shapes. One travertine pillar stares with the face of an old man, with toothless open mouth and hooked nose. Another, leonine, has a mane of foam.

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