The trail is said to be the most dangerous in the world. After you see it, you can understand why – tiny ledges, or a bare few planks bolted to the cliff face, in both cases hardly wide enough for a person to shuffle along crabwise. There is no guard-rail – only a chain strung along the cliff for travellers to hold. In places, you must climb up a ‘ladder’ to a higher level.
I use the word ladder loosely. It is comprised of spikes of steel driven into crevices in the rock.
The trail’s most dangerous sections feature such names as Thousand-Foot Precipice, Hundred-Foot Crevice and Black Dragon Ridge – names to inspire confidence for sure. No statistics are kept, but as many as 100 people may die on the trail each year. The trail leads to only one place.
Yes, you read that correctly. Tourists brave the most dangerous trail in the world, literally risking their lives, for tea.
Or more probably, just so they can say they did it.
I have no intention of doing it myself, but the first thing I thought when I saw it was ‘How can I use that in a story?’
I didn’t have an immediate use for it. My current project, In the Company of the Dead, is set almost entirely within the confines of a castle. No cliff climbing likely, and I had to concede that any attempt to include one would be artificial – damn.
I suddenly recalled the trail while talking to my husband one day. I told him about it, particularly about the teahouse, and after the conversation lapsed I remembered I wanted to use it.
I had just started a short story, The Dilemma of Twins, which is set in the same world as my short story A Magical Melody. There wasn’t much to it yet, but I had a notion that it involved a ‘high place’ which I was loosely calling the Sky Pillars. And then I realised, if there is a high place, they need to get there.
Yes, I made my main character climb a dangerous trail and cling to a cliff face over dizzying drops.
Hey, it could have been worse.
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