Niu Hesong, 45, is an indigenous villager from Taihang Mountain Grand Canyon, Huguan County, Shanxi Province.
The year 2017 is a turning point for Niu. He came across news about stories on poor villages later developed into tourist hot spots. Niu was inspired. He thought of his old village home – Taihang Grand Canyon, which has everything that is needed to develop into a tourist spot; it has affluent resources, beautiful scenic landscape, except it didn’t have a path to get across.
Hounao Village (Niu’s old home) is located at the farthest top of a Taihang mountain. Villagers in the area had long dream of a road to get through to the outside world, though that time no one could possibly put this into action – it’s a no kidding huge task – Taihang Mountain is wall-like steep, no help from heavy-duty excavating machine is possible.
There will be tonnes of other difficulties due to logistics, too – transporting the stones and concretes to reach through is a big headache – one can imagine. The entire building process, one can count on nothing but bare hands.
Yet, Niu was up to the challenge.
Quickly, he resigned from his duty at the news house, returned to his hometown, gathered few people and set this into action. “Let’s get to the top of this hill, we need to plan things out!” Niu and his people wasted no time. Some broke up the smaller and bigger boulders, some helped with the logistics, some worked out the laying. Steadily, one step at a time, one after another.
As words get passed around, the story about laying a road across from Taihang Grand Canyon becomes a legend.
As of 2018, villagers faced the pressing need of fund. Local donation helped raised fund approximated to 50,000 yuan (US$7250) in total. Material support from community of sponsors include: water, noodles, foldable beds, tents, and other supplies.
By February 2023, after over 700 days, they had opened up a pathway stretching across 3,500 meters in the steepest terrain. Altogether, thousands of steps were laid, 100,000 pieces of silts and stones used up.
Stories about Taihang mountain, and about other villages lifting off from poverty are broadcast by news and media, thus, bringing in more tourists’ traffic. Villagers in the Taihang mountain grasped their chance – open farm resort and sell local grown produces.
What it takes to build a path across the steepest terrain? A will to succeed; many bare hands to work things out; perseverance for over 700 days.