Very busy December = lack of posts ...

Delicious homemade soup by my classmate's mom (taken with iPad)

Saw 十二夜 Twelve Nights with my free movie tickets — cried the whole time (taken with iPad)

Some of the decorations in my classroom — hoping to win the competition (taken with iPad)

A delicious burger from Huge Burger — treating myself after my thesis presentation (taken with iPad)

Tuesday December 10th, 2013

Awesome bamboo — love it!

Are we going in the right direction?! Lost in a beautiful forest!

Betel Nut Trees

A flower spotted on today's hike

五寮尖 Wuliaojian hike on 12.03.2013 (22°+)

Sitting on a thin ridge, catching my breath, while waiting for my friends to ascend the cliff face

The first of many stunning views (number ten on the map)

We scaled the face of a rock to get up this ridge and then walked all the way across it

More gorgeous views from the Wuliaojian trail

五寮尖 Wuliaojian day trip ...

三峽 (Sanxia) has a wonderful hike called 五寮尖 (Wuliaojian) that is rated a five out of five, in terms of difficulty, on the Taiwan Adventures website. I absolutely agree with this rating. If you have a fear of heights or are not up for a challenge, you may want to pass on this day trek.

It took four of us almost six hours to complete a 7KM trail. The majority of it was up or down steep slopes using knotted ropes as an aid. This was our route:

We did not plan the trip carefully and ended up doing the trail backwards. The GPS was possibly guiding us toward the trailhead (parking lot two and/or three) but we spotted a sign and decided to follow it instead. This sign led us to parking lot number one on the map.

(Photo: Neil Wade)
Having seen many photos of the steep cliff face pictured here, this was our goal for the day, although we were completely unaware of the exact location. We headed 2KM (not KG as per the above map) up the number 10 trail. The trail is not marked and leads you through a thick, dense forest that doesn't see much light. The rocked path was damp and covered in moss and a handful of rocks were loose. The view from the top was spectacular but not exactly where we wanted to be.

We thought number eight could be the place due to the trail jetting upward as per the above map. Number eight offered more gorgeous views from atop a ridge but still not where we wanted to be. While taking a much needed rest on the peak, two other groups of Taiwanese hikers arrived. We showed them an image of the steep cliff face and they directed us toward number six.

Upon arrival at number six, still no cliff face although we did see them off in the distance coming down the trail from number seven. Time was rolling on past 2pm and we were concerned about making it back around to the car before dark. Also, one of our group members had just about enough at this point and was considering the trail down from number six to the parking spots at number two and three. 

Three of us were determined to head on though as we hadn't yet reached our goal and the fourth member of our group trekked on with us, much to his chagrin. What came next was something we were totally unprepared for. WOW!

Rather than descend the rope as per Neil Wade's image above like most hikers, we decided to climb it. Do keep in mind, there is no safety gear. I barely made it to the top and then getting to the top left me sitting on an extremely thin ridge that I hardly dared to stand on. My whole body was shaking from adrenaline, exhaustion and perhaps from the two sheer rock faces that shot down on either side of me — it was very tempting to shimmy across the ridge but it may have taken a half hour to do that.

My group members were at the bottom waiting for me to check if there was a way down, so I stood up and braved it, venturing on alone to see if the trail continued on. We could see another cliff face across the way from the one I was on, so we weren't sure if we had to go over there. It seemed that the trial did continue on, so I headed back across the narrow ridge and yelled down to my friends to come up. 

At this point, I was too exhausted to even think about taking photos. I sat down to catch my breath, enjoy the view and wait for the others. The trek from number five to four offered more steep slopes and mostly ropes. The sun was slowly sinking toward the mountain and I was encouraging my group members to move faster so that we could be out of the mountains in time.

Number four to three offered another trek through a dense bamboo forest with slippery paths, so moving quickly wasn't much of an option. We barely made it out before dark and we were all quite pleased to see the road! 

What an adventure but do plan ahead! Photos to follow ...