Dec 072013
 
A huge sculpture depicting a female yeren
 interacting with its young.

Having read about the Chinese wildman, or yeren, for years, I was nothing less than thrilled to have the opportunity to travel to that part of the world for an expedition. Our investigations would be centered in Hubei province, specifically the Shennongjia Forest District, one of several “hot spots” in China for yeren sightings.

The terrain looked and felt remarkably similar to the Pacific Northwest. It was heavily wooded with mixed firs and rhododendron which grew on its steep canyon walls. Most of this area is utterly devoid of road and trails. It seemed to me that most of the tourists were constrained to heavily developed walking trails that only skirted the wilderness areas that surround the main roads. Small trails have, however, been developed by the local mountain people, and these trails are largely used for the gathering of medicinal herbs and wood.