Up to now we’ve concentrated on making our journeys single, connected hikes – insofar as that’s possible while avoiding lengthy stretches of unpleasant road-walking. This October, however, we tried something different by walking only what we think of as the best hiking trails in between Shangri-la and Dali, and driving the bits in between. That allowed us to cram in more of the highlights of the Tea and Horse Trail, travel the gamut of Tibetan, Yi, Hui, Han, Naxi and Bai cultural areas, while still hiking almost every day.

Once again these are mostly trails I’ve written extensively about before, so what follows is just a gallery to give you an idea of what they look like in mid-to-late October. Ordinarily we’d move south to north in order to acclimatize gradually to the higher elevations; given the lateness of the season, we began in reverse direction in order to get over the high passes before any big snows began.

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