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Near Qingdao, Hiking a Magical Mountain

The sun was low and the air still hot when I swallowed the last drops from my canteen. My companion and I were hiking up the southern pass of Laoshan, a mountain of sun-bleached granite and hidden oases, rising over the Yellow Sea on China’s eastern shore.

我喝光水壶里最后一滴水的时候,太阳已落山,但空气依然很热。此时我和小伙伴正在徒步爬上崂山南侧的山口。崂山是坐落在中国东海岸黄海之滨的一处隐秘绿洲,花岗岩构成的山体在阳光下白得耀眼。

The trail began at Dahedong, a village in the shadow of a great dam, and climbed up steep terraces of tea fields before winding along a dry creek, a tumble of boulders suspended in mid-flow down the slope. When I touched them to steady myself, they seemed to pull the dampness from my skin and stow it away. There had been no rain for two months, and even the stones were thirsty.

徒步路线的起点是大河东,一个绿色水坝阴影中的小村。接着我们爬上长满茶树的陡峭梯田,再沿着一条干涸的小溪蜿蜒前进。沿斜坡而下的河床散落着各种大石头。当我摸着石头稳住身体时,它们似乎将我皮肤里的湿气直接吸出并夺走。这个地区已两个月没有下雨了,连山里的石头都饥渴至极。

Along the path, lilies bloomed like orange flares, and hikers before us had marked the way by knotting red ribbons to the tree branches as is done in Chinese temples. The forest directed us with the soft rustle of a thousand prayers. Still, somehow we had gotten lost.

一路上,百合花像橘红的火焰一样盛开,走在我们前边的徒步者将红布条绑在树枝上为我们指路,仿佛中国寺庙里的幸运红丝带。森林发出的沙沙声就像善男信女的祈祷,指引我们前行。但即便如此,我们还是迷路了。

The Laoshan Scenic District is an easy drive along the coast from the city of Qingdao, 19 miles or so to the west. About two million visitors come each year to ascend Laoshan’s peaks, which are strewed with oddly shaped moraines resembling stacks of books and curving horns. Around the mountain’s pale stones, cedar, elm and pine sprout in lush green tufts, fed by rainfall-charged aquifers deep underground. The water filters through the strata and then courses up from crevices in the granite before collecting in clear, azure pools that are scattered all over the mountain.

从青岛市区出发,沿着海岸线向西开车19英里,很方便就能到达崂山风景区。每年大约有200百万游客登顶崂山。崂山顶峰,许多形状奇特的冰碛石叠成书本或弯角的模样。灰色山岩的四周,雪松、榆树和松树枝繁叶茂,因为地面深处的蓄水层保存了许多降水。降水流下地下的土层,渗过花岗岩的石缝,最后聚集在一起,形成清澈湛蓝、遍布崂山的湖泊。

This otherworldly beauty was not lost on the Taoists, who some 3,000 years ago deemed the mountain a home of the Immortals, elevated beings so removed from worldly concerns that their skin is unlined by worry. Though most of the temples here have been lost to revolutions and time, monks in blue and white still tend the sprawling grounds of Taiqing Palace, a Taoist temple that has stood at the mountain’s base for the two millenniums since the Western Han dynasty. For about as long, the monks have credited their good health to drinking from the Shenshui Quan, the Spring of the Immortals, a slow-moving seep that still feeds the temple grounds.

这种超凡脱俗的美对道教徒来说并不陌生。大约3000年前起,道教徒就相信崂山是神仙居住的地方。神仙是一种远离人间烦恼的角色,忧愁困苦从来不会出现在他们的脸上。尽管崂山大部分的寺庙都已毁于革命和时光,穿着蓝白服装的道士仍悉心照料着规模宏大的太清宫。太清宫是崂山脚下的一座道教寺院,建于2000年前的西汉时期。大约从那个时代起,道士们就将自己的健康归功于饮用神水泉。神水泉的意思是“神仙们喝的泉水”,它那缓慢渗出的泉流至今仍在滋润着道观四周的土地。

崂山地区以山泉水闻名 Laoshan is famous for its spring..jpg

There is a story here of a time when the mountain had no water, and the villagers were starving. A kind spirit gave a peasant a magical vessel that multiplied whatever was put into it, and the villagers were saved. When greedy officials came to seize the treasure, the peasant leapt from the summit, and where his body and shards of the vessel fell, freshwater springs appeared.

关于这泉水还有个故事:历史上一段时间,崂山地区很久没有降水,村民们马上就要渴死了。善良的神仙给一个农民赠了一只有魔力的器皿,不管放进什么东西,神器都能将它变成两倍。村民们获救了。当贪婪的官吏抢夺这件珍宝时,那个农民从山顶跳下,他的身体和神器碎片坠落的地方涌出了清冽的泉水。

By the Qin dynasty and for centuries after that, emperors made pilgrimages here, hoping to meet the beings who controlled the wind and the rain and bore such gifts.

在秦朝及其之后的世纪里,皇帝们不断来崂山朝圣,希望能遇到掌握风雨的神灵,并为国家带来风调雨顺的好运。

The mountain regularly appeared as a backdrop in stories and songs about unexplained happenings. In the 17th century, the author known in writing circles as the Last of the Immortals, Pu Songling, lived on the Taiqing Palace’s grounds and wrote tales of entanglements with magic on the mountain. In one, a lonely poet befriends two sisters whose lives are tied to the fates of flowers. In another, a Taoist priest grants a boastful disciple the gift of walking through walls — only to take it back at the worst time.

崂山经常成为无法解释的故事及歌曲的背景。17世纪,以作品《聊斋志异》著称的作家蒲松龄曾在太清宫一带居住,并撰写了与这座山有关的神鬼故事。其中一个是,一名孤独的诗人与两姐妹交朋友,她俩的命运与花朵密切相关。另一个故事中,一名道士给喜欢吹牛的信徒赋予了一种可以穿墙的异能,后来又在最不合适的时间将它收回。

崂山山景 Laoshan Scenic District..jpg

I had spent the days before my hike wandering in the city of Qingdao, which is so close to Laoshan that on a clear morning, Laoshan’s peaks appear like a golden mirage, wavering in the distance. To most in the city, Laoshan is no longer a physical place but a symbol of everything that is not urban. That makes the mountain a very marketable brand. In the old part of town, street vendors along the steps of Huangdao sell fragrant mushrooms and sweet cherries grown in the foothills of Laoshan. In the central business district, waiters in upscale restaurants recommend the tuji — chickens that are free to scratch on the mountainside — at double the price of a regular chicken. In five-star hotels, the bottled water is always Laoshan Mineral Water brand.

在徒步之前,我在青岛市区呆了几天。青岛距离崂山非常近,天晴的时候崂山的顶峰像金色的海市蜃楼一样,在远方的天空招摇。对市区的大多数人来说,崂山不只是一个具体的地名,而是指所有与城市无关的一切。这让崂山成为一个极有市场价值的品牌。在青岛的老城区,游商小贩沿着黄岛区的台阶,兜售从崂山脚下采来的香菇和甜樱桃。在中心商务区,高档饭店的服务员向顾客推荐土鸡(可以在山坡上自由刨食的鸡肉),价格是普通鸡肉的两倍。五星级酒店提供的瓶装水品牌,永远是崂山矿泉水。

The city’s best-known product, its namesake Tsingtao beer, still touts its mountain roots. In 1903, the German-British backed Nordic Brewery Company brewed its first lagers using a recipe of Moravian malt, Bohemian and Bavarian hops, and spring water carted from Laoshan. Later, a pipeline connected the Laoshan water table directly to wells on the brewery grounds. Today Tsingtao produces so much beer in its breweries around China — 122 million kegs’ worth a year — that Laoshan water is reserved only for beer brewed in Qingdao.

该城最有名的产品青岛啤酒,在宣传中仍不忘声称产自崂山山脚。1903年,由德国和英国联合创办的北欧啤酒公司用一种包括摩拉维亚大麦芽、波西米亚和巴伐利亚啤酒花以及崂山泉水,酿出了第一批啤酒。后来,一条管道将崂山的地下水和啤酒厂的水井直接连了起来。现今青岛啤酒在全国的产量是如此之高(每年1.22亿桶),以至于崂山的泉水只能够供应青岛市酿造的啤酒。

There is still one original well left, a small hole ringed in hexagonal stone behind the brewery’s busy loading docks; it is no longer used and not part of the official tour. A guide tried to warn me away. “Be careful of the ghosts,” she said, as she backed far away.

现在青岛啤酒厂还留着一眼水井,位于厂区繁忙的装载码头后面,一个由六边形石头围起来的小孔。水井已不再使用,也不属于官方旅行团的目的地。一名导游试图警告我远离之。“请小心那些鬼魂,”她一边说一边后退。

The sun was setting behind Laoshan’s foothills when we rounded a bend in the trail, and there the dusty soil turned into packed mud. The mud ringed a copper-green pool about as wide and as deep as a swimming pool, the “Prinzenbad” — Prince’s Bath, according to a boulder beside it inscribed when German entrepreneurs ran beer halls and a sanitarium on the mountain in the early 20th century. The water was clear but it was warm and still, save for schools of tadpoles that roiled in black ribbons. We splashed our faces and continued on.

我们顺着徒步路线转过一个弯道之后,太阳沉入了崂山的背面。灰尘飞扬的地面也变成一片厚重的淤泥。在这泥泞的包围之中,是一个铜绿色的池子,宽度和深度都与游泳池差不多。根据池边一块石头上的铭文,它叫公主池,20世纪早期的时候德国企业家们在这里开啤酒馆,还在山里开了一家疗养院。水很干净,却温暖而凝滞,偶尔会有黑丝带一般在水中翻滚的一群群蝌蚪。我们洗了把脸,继续前行。

Lao Huang’s house was a low-slung shelter of stone surrounded by gardens and tea fields that extended deep into the gentle slope of a U-shaped valley. Lao Huang was not there, but his wife, He Fenghong, appeared from behind a bundle of firewood, her baby grandson strapped to her back.

老黄家的房子是个低矮的石屋,周围有花园,还有延伸到一个U型峡谷深处的茶田。老黄不在家,但他的妻子何凤红从一堆柴火后面抬起头来,小孙子用布袋绑在身后。

“You must be thirsty,” she said. Soon she was pouring tea brewed from leaves she had picked from the bushes all around the house. We gulped it down, and then helped her catch one of the chickens roaming in the yard for our dinner.

“你们一定渴了吧,”她说。很快她就开始给我们倒茶,茶叶是她从自家屋外采来的。我们一口气喝光,接着又去后院帮她抓了一只土鸡,做我们晚餐的食材。

Like his wife, Lao Huang looked many years younger than his age, which he said was “still not yet 50.” I asked him how he had managed to find himself in such a beautiful place, and half-jokingly he explained that no one else wanted to have to carry everything on their backs. It took him three days of hiking every few months to bring in what they needed, he said.

像他的妻子一样,老黄的面相显得很年轻。他的实际年龄用他自己的话说是“还不到50”。我问他如何找到这么一个美妙的地方居住,他半开玩笑地说,因为别人都不愿像他一样所有东西都靠背。他说,每隔几个月他们就需要出门购买生活用品,每次采购往返都要徒步三天。

“You can have anything you want in the city,” Lao Huang said. But, he noted, “You have what you need in the mountains.” Then he laughed. He had a way of talking about things in short, profound sentences capped with raucous laughter.

“在城里,你想要什么就有什么,”老黄说。但他又接着说:“但在山里,你需要什么也就有什么。”说完,自己发出哈哈大笑。他的句子简洁但深刻,总是以豪爽的大笑结尾。

In the morning, we woke to a rooster and then a cacophony of sparrows, turtledoves and Lao Huang’s pair of yellow dogs calling to the sun. We watched the mist slowly blanket Laoshan’s clefts and valleys in white, as we ate our breakfast of eggs, rice porridge and tea. Then, with full stomachs, we headed over the pass.

第二天早晨,一只公鸡把我们叫醒,还有麻雀和斑鸠的啁啾,老黄家的两只黄狗也在对着太阳汪汪叫着。我们一边吃鸡蛋、米粥和茶水组成的早餐,一边看着晨雾像白色的毯子一样缓慢覆盖了崂山的高山和低谷。然后我们带着吃饱的肚子,直奔下一个山口。

When we reached the Beijiushui Scenic Area on the other side of the mountain, we joined the tourists on the paved walkways as they clustered around the posted signs and inscriptions carved into the canyon walls that gave every bend in the water a name. We passed a chain of small pools, each an increasingly saturated shade of blue as we drew closer to their source, Chaoyin Pubu, a waterfall that was named for the sound of the ocean tides.

到达崂山另一侧的北九水风景区时,我们在山路上加入了其他游客。他们聚集在路标和崖壁上的铭文前认真研读,景区给河流的每一段都取了名字。我们走过几个小湖泊,随着它们的水源——潮音瀑布越来越近,湖水的蓝色也依次加深。潮音瀑布的意思是海潮的声音。

Just downstream, people were crouched at the pool’s edge marveling at the limpid water and drawing deep sips of it from cupped hands. I made my way down, too, and filled my canteen. I drank it on the drive back to Qingdao, as the sky opened up and it started to rain.

潭水的下游,人们在池边蹲下身来,惊叹这赤水的宁静无波,然后捧起清水送入口中。我学着他们的样子,将潭水装满了我的水壶。回青岛的路上,我一边喝水一边看着天光变幻,一场好雨终于来了。

2016-06-23

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