April Hiking Plans

Okay! I have gotten the hiking plans /targets for at least the next 2-3 weeks all planned out. (shown in no chronological order)

1) Elephant Mountain in the evenings.

2) Tiger Mountain – One of the 4 Beast Mountains which is  about 2 train stations away from my place.

3) Jiu Wu Feng (9-5 Peak) – Expecting it to be slightly more challenging compared to Elephant/Tiger Mountain.

4) Yang Ming Shan – Made plans with a friend and we will be attempting one of the relatively more challenging trails together.

5) Last but not least, THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA!!! Yup! No kidding!! I´m heading up to Beijing next week and it is definitely on my to-do list for the weekend.

Note: I´m hoping that I can do either the Elephant Mountain or Tiger Mountain this weekend. Hopefully, we get good weather in Taipei City. Maybe I get to do both mountains. Who knows? *fingers crossed*  😀

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Elephant Mountain III – Yong Chun

I headed down the mountain via another route and saw many beautiful wild flowers along the way. I was careful not to tread too closely because firstly I have had some personal bad experiences with wild poisonous ferns and also (haha!) some of them were clearly marked as poisonous. 🙂 Another safety tip to remember – keep your hands to yourself!

The exit is at Yong Chun and you can see a typical Taiwanese village that still has tin roofs on them and interesting placements such as large washing machines placed next to their front door with their laundry hanging out to dry overhead. I found myself  silently betting that the residents here must be a tight knitted community in which they must have known their neighbours for years. A rarity in city life.

Yong chun is pretty interesting on its own and despite the healthy snack I ate on the mountain and the breakfast I had at home, I decided to treat myself to yet another round of breakfast and then grocery shopping in the morning market before walking home.

By the time I got home, I was totally exhausted but all in all, a morning extremely well-spent!

Time took for the entire journey – 4 hours. (6.45am to 10.45am)

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Elephant Mountain II – Reflections on hiking up….

I must have been pretty psyched up about the trip because I was awake and out of bed before the alarm clock rang and was out of the door by 6.45am. By that time, the sky was already pretty bright lit although it still had that comforting morning freshness which I  enjoy.  

The plan was to take a slow and leisurely walk to the entrance of the Elephant mountain. Guided by my little map, hastily prepared notes and of course, the ever reliable Iphone (without which I would have became irrevocably lost), I passed Taipei City Hall, the department stores and the Taipei 101 and couldn’t help but be amused by how quiet those familiar places were without the usual crowds. 

It took me about 40 minutes to get to the entrance and there were helpful signs along the way. On the way to the entrance, I came across a quaint, unassuming park where you can find groups of elderly people hanging out and doing social group activities such as tai-chi or line dancing. It was quite nice to watch them have so much fun.

Before I reached the entrance of the Elephant mountain, I was confronted by a nasty looking 45-degree slope .The slope is so steep that several cars parked along the side of the road had slabs of rocks pinned behind their back wheels to prevent the car from sliding backwards. Innovating but practical braking mechanism! 

I was pleased to know that I would not be lonely in my journey because by the time I reached the entrance, there were already many patrons – some of which I could tell were regulars. The climb, itself, starts with small and even steps at which I was able to do them at least 2 – 3 steps at a go. But before I knew it, they started to become irregular and each step seemed steeper than the next. My thighs started to feel the burn, my breathing got increasingly jagged and I started perspiring profusively despite the morning chill.    

Looking back, it wasn’t  a hard climb at all. The mountain itself is less than 200 metres in height but I must say that if you truly want to enjoy this mountain without breaking into a sweat, you really have got to like doing step aerobics. Half way up, I realized that if this is considered an “easy” mountain, then I had better start visiting the gym more!! My ego was also slightly bruised when I saw folks old enought to be my grandpa and grandma vigorously swinging their arms and pounding up the stairs with mind-blowing tempo. Bummer! 😀

As I sat on the peak enjoying  Taipei City stretched out ahead of me, I knew despite my aching feet, I totally enjoyed myself and would definitely visit the Elephant mountain again soon. 🙂

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Elephant Mountain I – Photos

Mission accomplished! Just conquered the Elephant mountain and the view was fantastic!

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Four Beast Mountain (四獸山)

The Nangang Moutain Range is the line of low peaks, southeast of Taipei 101 and its four westernmost peaks are collectively called the Four Beast mountain. The mountains known as Tiger (虎山), Elephant (象山), Leopard (豹山) and Lion(狮山) are so called as they are said to resemble the respective animals.

The map below shows the proximity of the 4 mountains to Taipei city hall and tomorrow I’ve decided to visit the nearest and most popular mountain for “beginning hiking” – Elephant Mountain.

Four Beast Mountain

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Basic Hiking Equipment

Since I’m relatively new to hiking, I decided to do some research on basic hiking equipment and safety tips. Pretty no-brainer stuff (for now) and since I’m actually only going to start on the simple, beginner type of trails, I don’t think its going to be much of a problem.

One thing I did realize though was that I had better do some research on the trails before I get there, just so that I don’t end up too “127 hours” -ish….That would be frankly no fun at all!

Basic Hiking Equipments for Beginners 

  1. Lightweight backpack
  2. Lightweight athletic shoes
  3. Comfortable clothing (I guess its long-sleeve shirt and pants to maintain warmth in this rather unpredicatable weather and to keep away insects.)
  4. Hat and Raincoat
  5. Drinking Water
  6. Snacks
  7. Safety Equipment: Map, compass, emergency medical items, mobile phone
  8. Others: Metro card, camera, notebook and pen, ipod

There were other things that the experts recommended such as canes and compasses but I don’t think I’m going to need them for at least the first 15 mountains that I am going to climb.

So it looks like I’m all set for tomorrow. I just hope it doesn’t rain and dampen my spirits.

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The Hiking Challenge (Taiwan 2011)

I don´t know what has gotten into me recently. I just feel this strong need to ¨answer the call of the wild¨. Beyond the random howling at the moon (which by the way is not highly recommended when you are living right in the middle of the city), I have decided to come up with my own challenge to get in touch with mother nature. Here is the kicker: I am going to do it the good old fashion way….*drum rolls*……yes….I am going to hike and give these dear ¨city-feet of mine¨ a good work out.

To a self-confessed true blue, born and bred city girl, if  this idea was proposed many years ago, it would have been UNTHINKABLE !!! Needless to say, I did not get many enthusiastic responses to my, albeit, hastily thrown together, proudly entitled ¨The Hiking Challenge (Taiwan 2011)¨.

Nonetheless, despite the lack of response, I have decided to persevere. Well, who knows where this call might lead me? (Addition: At this point in writing, I actually have gotten a few converts…so Iḿ guessing that sheer stubborn enthusiasm can actually be quite infectious :)). 

So before I end this post and to show how serious I am to keep at this little pet project of mine, I am going to dedicate this challenge and all the beautiful things that I will get to see along the way, to a good friend of mine – Steve Meyers . Steve had a great passion for hiking and though we will no longer have a chance to do a section of the Appalachian Trail together. He will never be forgotten.)

His website can be found at:  http://www.10yearsontheat.com/

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