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A frog goes hiking: 大霸尖山 (Da ba jian shan) (Day 1)

posted by Martin Rubli at 14:09

My 百岳 trips seem to take place in regular intervals of about twelve months. Last time it was Taiwan's highest mountain. This time it was going to be #27, 大霸尖山 (Da ba jian shan) with an altitude of 3492 meters. It's probably the most remarkable mountain in Taiwan thanks to its square shaped peak.

Climbing it usually takes three days and starts in beautiful - when sunny - 觀霧 (Guan wu). The first day you hike 17 to 19 km along the relatively flat 大鹿林道東線 (Da lu forest trail east section), which is now closed for private vehicles. Then, from the 馬達拉溪登山口 (Ma da la river trail head) it is another 4 km, this time considerably steeper, to the 九九山莊 (Jiu jiu "99" mountain hut) where you stay the night. All in all a little over 21 km.

Day two depends on weather and fitness. From 九九山莊 (Jiu jiu mountain hut) to 大霸尖山 (Da ba jian shan) it's about 8-9 kilometers with the option of bagging three other 百岳 peaks: 加利山 (Jia li shan, 3112 m), 伊澤山 (Yi ze shan, 3297 m), and 小霸尖山 (Xiao ba jian shan, 3360 m). That's around 23-24 kilometers if you choose to do all of them. Around 17 km if you only shoot for the "main" peak.

Day three is like day 1 but reverse.

To give you a better impression here's a Google Earth screenshot (red/blue = days 1/3, green = day 2):


(Click the image for a larger version.)

Our group was made up of only four people, which means there's a little more to carry for everyone, but it's also more flexible, easier to count, and generally much more fun!

To save weight I left my D-SLR at home for once and used my brand new Nikon AW100 waterproof camera instead. The weather forecast looked quite bad and I didn't feel it was worth the weight if there was no guarantee for great pictures. Instead I wanted to be able to memorize our hike even if we had to walk in the rain for three days. :-)

This post covers day 1. Day 2 is here and day 3 is here.


Altitude graph


(Click the image for a larger version.)

GPS track

Hiking log

0300: Wake up
0400: Assembly in 竹北 (Zhu bei)
0500: Departure by car towards 觀霧 (Guan wu)
0810: Start hiking from 觀霧 (Guan wu) on 大鹿林道東線 (Da lu forest trail east section), 2066 m
1350: 大鹿林道東線 (Da lu forest trail east section) 17 km, taking the shortcut, 1891 m
1405: 大鹿林道東線 (Da lu forest trail east section) 19 km, rest break and water refill
1425: Cross the 馬達拉溪 (Ma da la river), 1823 m
1840: Arrive at 九九山莊 (Jiu jiu mountain hut), 2699 m


Photos

The entrance to the 大鹿林道東線 (Da lu forest trail east section). From here to the trail head it takes a solid 19 km warm-up hike.

The entrance to the 大鹿林道東線 (Da lu forest trail east section). From here to the trail head it takes a solid 19 km warm-up hike.

08:10 in the morning: 0 km

08:10 in the morning: 0 km

The 大霸尖山登山服務站 (Da ba jian shan service station), which seems to be unstaffed most of the time. It was empty when we left and when we got back.

The 大霸尖山登山服務站 (Da ba jian shan service station), which seems to be unstaffed most of the time. It was empty when we left and when we got back.

After almost every typhoon parts of the road are covered with landslides or rocks.

After almost every typhoon parts of the road are covered with landslides or rocks.

There are many creeks and little waterfalls along the road, so at least getting fresh water is not an issue.

There are many creeks and little waterfalls along the road, so at least getting fresh water is not an issue.

View down into the valley.

View down into the valley.

The flora and fauna along the way is quite interesting.

The flora and fauna along the way is quite interesting.

大鹿林道東線 (Da lu forest trail east section).

大鹿林道東線 (Da lu forest trail east section).

(untitled)
Water drainage apparently wasn't a priority when the road was built. Every so often you have to cross a little river.

Water drainage apparently wasn't a priority when the road was built. Every so often you have to cross a little river.

More recently they've been building little picnic sites along the way. Of course a little roof wouldn't hurt cause when it rains they're not very inviting to take a break. (See day 3 ...)

More recently they've been building little picnic sites along the way. Of course a little roof wouldn't hurt cause when it rains they're not very inviting to take a break. (See day 3 ...)

Despite the numerous warning signs we've seen several cars, a truck, and a backhoe safely making it through.

Despite the numerous warning signs we've seen several cars, a truck, and a backhoe safely making it through.

(untitled)
東線瀑布 (Dong xian waterfall).

東線瀑布 (Dong xian waterfall).

15+ kilograms on the back doesn't stop a real photo fan from carrying the D-SLR all the way.

15+ kilograms on the back doesn't stop a real photo fan from carrying the D-SLR all the way.

Tadpoles on the road.

Tadpoles on the road.

One of the mountain huts along the way. This is one of the cleaner ones and it even has an attachment to dry clothes and cook. I'm assuming workers occasionally sleep here.

One of the mountain huts along the way. This is one of the cleaner ones and it even has an attachment to dry clothes and cook. I'm assuming workers occasionally sleep here.

(untitled)
In the hairpin curve right after the 17 km milestone there's a shortcut that trades 2 km of road for 300 m of track and leads directly to the 馬達拉溪登山口 (Ma da la river trail head). It's a great way to save some time and energy on the way down and if the weather is good.

In the hairpin curve right after the 17 km milestone there's a shortcut that trades 2 km of road for 300 m of track and leads directly to the 馬達拉溪登山口 (Ma da la river trail head). It's a great way to save some time and energy on the way down and if the weather is good.

Joe and Ann arriving at 17 km.

Joe and Ann arriving at 17 km.

Going down the shortcut and adding a little show ...

Going down the shortcut and adding a little show ...

Most of the shortcut looks like this with ropes on the side.

Most of the shortcut looks like this with ropes on the side.

Taking a little rest because the real tough part begins here. On the other side of the bridge is the trail head that leads up to 九九山莊 (Jiu jiu mountain hut).

Taking a little rest because the real tough part begins here. On the other side of the bridge is the trail head that leads up to 九九山莊 (Jiu jiu mountain hut).

The suspension bridge over the 馬達拉溪 (Ma da la river).

The suspension bridge over the 馬達拉溪 (Ma da la river).

Remember the expression. You'll want to compare it with the one on day 3 at the same location ...

Remember the expression. You'll want to compare it with the one on day 3 at the same location ...

Taking a break after 0.9 km of steep uphill. I took a picture of my face here but it's scarier than a ghost, so I went for the one with the backpack only. Luckily there's still network coverage here, so you can share your pain over the phone. :-)

Taking a break after 0.9 km of steep uphill. I took a picture of my face here but it's scarier than a ghost, so I went for the one with the backpack only. Luckily there's still network coverage here, so you can share your pain over the phone. :-)

In the afternoon the weather started to turn.

In the afternoon the weather started to turn.

As if the steep slope wasn't enough places like this force you to do the Limbo - not an easy task with a heavy backpack.

As if the steep slope wasn't enough places like this force you to do the Limbo - not an easy task with a heavy backpack.

Ann and Max arriving at 3 km. One kilometer to go sounds easy but it would take us almost an hour.

Ann and Max arriving at 3 km. One kilometer to go sounds easy but it would take us almost an hour.

Never have the words 歡迎光臨 (Welcome) sounded so good ... After over 10 hours of walking we've finally made it to our mountain hut.

Never have the words 歡迎光臨 (Welcome) sounded so good ... After over 10 hours of walking we've finally made it to our mountain hut.

You see pure happiness on everyone arriving here.

You see pure happiness on everyone arriving here.

Beat and happy: 4 hours, 4 km and 880 m of ascent after the trail head. It really doesn't sound like much, but with the 17 km of forest trail in your legs you just want to lie down.

Beat and happy: 4 hours, 4 km and 880 m of ascent after the trail head. It really doesn't sound like much, but with the 17 km of forest trail in your legs you just want to lie down.


Continue to day 2 or day 3


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