Next time you're climbing the dizzying heights of Huang Shan, scaling the jagged peaks of Zhangjiajie or clambering up the metal ladders that punctuate the smooth moon-rock face of Hua Shan, spare a moment or two to think about how those death-defying yet wonderfully panoramic pathways came to be.
Behind every lofty tourist walkway in China lies the blood, sweat and tears and incredible stomach for heights of the men who braved the sheer rock faces, hanging hundreds of meters above the ground with little-to-no safety gear to make them accessible to the camera-toting masses.
This particular set of precarious planks are to become a scenic walkway in Hunan's Shifo Mountain (Shífò Shān, 石佛山). When finished, the narrow path will be the highest in China at 1,000 m (3281 ft) up and stretch for more than 3 km (2 mi). When finished, those men and their hard work will be forgotten, save perhaps a few random footprints in the concrete from their ill-fitting canvas shoes, their footfall replaced by that of the floods of high-heeled travelers fresh from the elevator/cable car that is sure to accompany such a project.
It's a thankless and tough job, shunned by the younger generation as 48-year-old worker Yu Ji explains: "Young people do not want this work because it forces them to stay deep in the mountains for months, even years."
So, to the workers of Shifo Shan—we salute you!