It’s Dragon Boat Festival weekend, so we have 2 extra days off – yippee! So far I’ve spent 2 days up on the Yang-Ming Shan Mountains above Taipei doing the East-West Traverse (Chinese version is here), a 25 km route, which I did in 2 halves – it takes in 10 peaks in total. Each of the 10 peaks has a marker post with a Chinese character on the top, and using a pencil, you make like a brass rubbing in a special book. Together the characters spell out the phrase ‘陽明山東西大縱走活動’ meaning ‘Yang-Ming Shan East-West Vertical Traverse Activity’. So there you have it.
A new challenge. And I always like a new challenge. My good friend, Shiao Chien, who also volunteers at Yang-Ming Shan, gave me the book as a gift many months ago. It’s taken until now to find some free time to do it!
The weather was wonderful. Well, for ducks, that is. And frogs. Also wonderful for mountain walkers who want to keep cool. Day one on Saturday started off clear and with a strong wind, but by lunchtime, the mist had rolled in and the drizzle had started. Day Two was today. Down in Taipei, it was beautiful, all sunshine; but up in Yang-Ming Shan it was dense fog and drizzle virtually all day. Ah, yes, quite fun!
So 2 days, each with 5 peaks, and each day about 5-6 hours of walking. This is Saturday’s opening view from Mt Datun …. that’s Sanzhi down there in the distance, yes I could sort of see my house!
And the view from Mt Datun Main Peak… those green mountains are the next destination on the trail, south and west peaks, and Mt Miantian at the end.
Here I am with Taipei down below and my book ready for the first brass rubbing. If only I knew what to do, and if only I had brought a pencil! I had assumed it would be stamps with an ink-pad, that’s kinda normal in Taiwan. But no sign of any stamps and ink-pads. The first man I met had no idea what to do, the second one said I needed to get a pencil. He offered me his chopstick as an alternative, but it didn’t work. So here I am waiting for something to happen, otherwise I can’t fill in the Chinese character ha ha! Wait and see….
Anyway, Mt Datun South Peak and West Peak climbs are short but very steep, and have ropes to help everyone get up and down over the mud and slippery rocks!
And so to Mt. Miantian where the large microwave reflector things are visible for miles around. Just below it is Mt. Xiangtian…
On the way down, came across this stone…. erected in honour of the wedding of Crown Prince Hirohito in 1924…
And down through the bamboo forest….
To the trail head at Qingtian Temple….
This is the trail-head at the western end ~ yes, I’m half done!
Legs ached all weekend. Arms too, from all those ropes. Could hardly get down any stairs, it was agony on the old legs. Serves me right for trying to do 5 peaks in one day. But still, I was up bright and early to start today’s walk at Xiaoyoukeng where the fumaroles were very busy, spewing out sulphur. Stinking the place out. Even though it was 100% fog , we could all smell them!
This is the start of Qixing Main Peak and East Peak Trail, ah yes, all in the fog and drizzle!
The top is the highest point on the ridge… 1120m
And down to Lengshuikeng where the visitor centre is hidden in the mist. Cue: coffee on sale here!
My destination was Fengguikou trail-head, still about 6 km away, with 3 more peaks en route. The first time I’ve ever been along on that ridge. It’s mostly grassland. Cows too. Never saw any cows, but plenty of cowpats. Really amazing ridge walk. In the fog. And y’know, it was so cool! Usually grassland means no shade, and hot hot hot. But today was great! This is the Lengshuikeng Pond…
Passed through pines and cedars, remnants of forestry plantations planted by the Japanese in the 1920’s….
And so to my last peak, Mt Ding, yes I was so happy!
And so down to the trailhead…. more mud!
Lots of Nature with a capital ‘N’ – pink and purple thistles, the white-flowers of the ‘Narrow-Petaled Hydrangea’ 狹瓣八仙 (Hydrangea angustipetala) there in abundance, fungi growing on the cowpats and 2 pairs of Chinese Bamboo Partridge 竹雞 which seemed very tame – well, you can see how close I got!
So 10 peaks later, and in case you’re wondering how I got on without a pencil, well, guess what? There I was waiting for something to happen at my first peak of the 10, and along came one of my colleagues from our university, with her family – these guys turned up completely unexpectedly on Saturday morning at Mt Datun Main Peak while I was there, and they showed me how to make the brass rubbing with their pencil – which they then donated to me to take on the trip. How’s that for a bit of divine intervention eh?! 🙂 🙂
From Fengguikou trail-head, I had to walk down another 2 km to the bus at ShengRen Bridge – the road above the National Palace Museum…. the descent got brighter and nicer and sunnier the lower I went ~ this was it!
And this was the scene at Tamsui MRT Station. Just look at that blue sky!
Met loads and loads of people over these 2 days. Most interesting of all, was the 2 men on Saturday who had parked at Fengguikou trail-head at 6:00 am and were doing the whole traverse, all 25 km and all 10 peaks down to Qingtian Temple, and then back again along exactly the same route. All in one day! When I met them, they had done the first 25 km in about 6 hours, so hopefully they got back in one piece!
An amazing route, great fun, beautiful scenery, good exercise, lots of nature and yes, now plenty of aching muscles – but hey, worth every penny and every ache!
PS Thought you may like to see a sign that I saw on Yang-Ming Shan on Saturday….
It’s good news for all Climbing Violators ~ none of them will be reported to the police, ha ha!
Ah yes, punctuation is everything!