Taiwan offers some great hiking at the base of the central mountain range but there is some truly special areas in the high mountains. The Nenggao Trail is one of my six mountains trails that are at the top my list to hike. I have already hiked Yushan and now I can check the Nenggao trail off of that list also. The Nenggao Trail is one of few trails that crosses completely over the central mountain range connecting Nantou County to Hualien County. The Nenggao Trail not only contains amazing forests, a 200 meter waterfall and a mountain cabin but it also connects to a vast network of spectacular mountain trails in central Taiwan. To the north a hiker can connect to Hehuanshan, to the south a hiker can exit at Aowanda and to the east a hiker can reach Hualien.
But the trail is much more significant historically than that. It was originally built by the Japanese before WWII to control the local aboriginal tribes and to exploit Taiwan’s great forests. Unhappy with this Japanese interference the Sediq aboriginal tribe attacked a Japanese sporting event killing over 100 people (The Wushe Incident). The Japanese responded swiftly and crushed the rebellion with its far superior military. Seediq Bale was a recent Taiwanese blockbuster movie and more in depth reading is available (The Wushe Uprising).
Our hike was much more pleasant than that. Taiwan Adventures provided a first class trip and there was great weather all weekend.
There are two major landslides that need to be crossed on the way to Tianchi Cabin. These landslides closed the trail for a long time after they occurred.
Rebecca and Evangeline hike on the well maintained trail. Most of the trail is easily graded all the way to Tianchi Cabin.
The central mountain range extends to the south as far as the eye can see.
Cynthia, Rebecca and I admire Nenggao Waterfall in the misting rain.
There are 88 bunk room spots available at Tianchi Cabin. There is also a large camping area but they don’t restrict how many tents are allowed. Without restriction this results in a very busy area on the weekends and considerable impact on the area. Hopefully this is addressed in the future.
The evening started with a chilly drizzle but the sunset was quite spectacular.
We woke up at an absolutely ridiculous time to summit Cilai South Peak at sunrise. We were unfortunately joined by an army of Taiwanese hikers (shown later).
There are numerous mountain trails crisscrossing this area giving hikers numerous hiking opportunities.
Martin went through one of the occasional pine sections of the trail.
Cynthia emerges from an overgrown spot on the trail.
I have long been completely frustrated by the standard Taiwanese hiking mentality. This is a clump of at least 100 hikers that marches as a unit and this is common. At least we were going the other way when we saw them.
Looking south planning future trips.
This post will have to serve as a prelude to the Chaiyi motorcycle trip that Richard Saunders led 9 of us on. Richard led us all over the back roads of Chaiyi county. I was initially incredibly impressed that Richard was able to navigate all of the tiny mountain roads using road maps but we actually ended up lost several times. This didn’t surprise me since there are 1000′s of these small mountains roads that don’t show up on any map. Trying to navigate these roads using a road map is nearly impossible but even when we ended up lost we saw some great things. We also verified that an incredible mountain trail is still hikable.
This is an abandoned mountain road near Tsengwen Reservoir that served as the perfect camping spot on Friday night. I found this spot in the dark and discovered that I was camped next to a small waterfall in the morning.
Typically bad weather screws up weekend plans but this wasn’t an ordinary weekend. This was a 4 day holiday weekend for Moon Festival. This was also no ordinary typhoon. It was a supertyphoon that was expected to pass just south of Taiwan. Nobody was expecting a devastating direct hit but typhoons are unpredictable and they can be devastating even if they don’t directly hit you. Two weeks ago Kaohsiung received 500mm’s of rain from a faraway category 1 typhoon. Supertyphoons of course are the most devastating. To give some sort of reference category 5 supertyphoons have wind speeds >250 km/hr (>157 mi/hr). Combine that with up to a meter of rain and everyone is at risk. Even those in very safe 14th floor apartments.
Unlike many that had already made travel plans I stocked up on essential supplies like wine, chocolate muffins (gluten free) and fruit and planned for a long weekend bunkered in my apartment. This was already the plan since I’m almost finished with a giant summer project and this waterfall hunter will be released in a few weeks.
In the end however Supertyphoon Usagi stayed well south of Taiwan and it has been almost disappointingly calm today. Kenting and Taidong received some rain and had high winds but nothing incredibly scary as far as I have heard. This of course won’t be true for Hong Kong which is expected to be hit by a reduced strength (still category 2/3) Typhoon Usagi on Monday.
A satellite image from 24 hours ago (9/20 15:30) with the suprtyphoon bearing down on Taiwan. The width of the storm is 4 times the length of Taiwan but the northern part of the storm has not been as devastating as expected.
I have spent the summer in seclusion working on a big project so I haven’t gotten out very much (actually at all) but that should change in about a month as things settle down. This weekend I hosted an English cyclist as he attempts to cycle around Taiwan. Attempting a Huandao (環島) is very popular since it isn’t actually that difficult requiring <2 weeks depending on your route. Someday I will do this but I will pick the most painful and most spectacular route (Hehuanshan 2x of course). Matt has been a lot of cool places that I haven’t been to yet (recently Borneo and Burma) and he does a great job blogging his trips at http://www.iliveeasy.co.uk/ Right now he is headed to Kenting and then he will cycle up the best part of Taiwan (the East Coast). It won’t be easy for him since we have a 4 day weekend coming up (logistical nightmares) and there could be a big storm on the way but hopefully things go well for him.
There were threats of bad weather all week but the weather ended up perfect. Foster Hewitt’s and Sark organized the event with several expat vendors taking part. The theme was cider but it was really just a convenient excuse for Kaohsiung’s expat community to have a big party at the beach.
Siziwan Beach is located right next Jhongshan University (NSYSU).
Cory’s Kitchen cooked up some excellent spicy italian, chorizo, kielbasa and sage sausages.
Don Burrito is one of several Mexican themed expat restaurants in Kaohsiung and they were popular on Saturday.
The threats of bad weather resulted in some impressive clouds that weren’t interested in raining on our party.
The sunset was okay…
Several expats formed a poi fire group and frequently perform at events.
Liger Attack is a popular expat band and they were the main event for The Cider Effect.