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中正山 (Zhong zheng shan)

posted by Martin Rubli at 15:02

I love to use Google Earth to find the destination of my next hiking or biking trip. It's not that there are not enough places to go without having to resort to the Internet, but quickly jumping there to see whether the view is good and what the road or path looks like can filter out the disappointing ones and save the precious weekends. :-)

A few weeks ago I was trying to find a good spot that had a view of Taipei but was still easily reachable by public transportation. 陽明山國家公園 (Yang Ming Shan National Park) has plenty of nice hills and mountains but most of them are poorly connected to bus or metro.

One of the closer ones immediately stood out: 中正山 (Zhong zheng shan). It promised to have a good view of the whole city, all the way down to Taipei 101:

So, we did a little research, found how to go there and off we went, armed with my trusted GPS logger, the camera, and way too little water.

Just so you get an idea where our hike took us, here's the bird's eye view:

The yellow arrow is 中正山 (Zhong zheng shan), our main destination. The red one is 大屯西峰 (Da tun shan west peak), the place we figured we could go if we had enough energy left (which we did).

The green arrow is hovering over 七星山 (Qi xing shan), the highest mountain in Taipei. And, finally, the blue arrow is pointing at 大屯山 (Da tun shan), which is said to have one of the nicest sunsets in Northern Taiwan, something we had been able to confirm on a previous trip.

There you go, so much for the maps. Lean back and enjoy the photos. (But don't lean back too far, otherwise you won't be able to reach your mouse. ;-)


The entrance to the entrance to the 中正山親山步道 (Zhong zheng shan hiking trail). The real entrance comes a little later, this is a sort of pre-hiking trail that saves you from taking the car or scooter because it's easily reachable with public transportation from the 新北投 (Xin bei tou) MRT station.

The entrance to the entrance to the 中正山親山步道 (Zhong zheng shan hiking trail). The real entrance comes a little later, this is a sort of pre-hiking trail that saves you from taking the car or scooter because it's easily reachable with public transportation from the 新北投 (Xin bei tou) MRT station.

A map of the entire hiking trail and its closer surroundings. (Click here for a bigger version.)

A map of the entire hiking trail and its closer surroundings. ([local:/gallery/data/zhong-zheng-shan/images/original/20100801-112618_MR3231_D90.jpg Click here for a bigger version].)

Another reference photo, but a useful one ... This map shows the distances between the points, not only to 中正山 (Zhong zheng shan), but also to other mountains such as 大屯山 (Da tun shan).
(Click here for a bigger version.)

Another reference photo, but a useful one ... This map shows the distances between the points, not only to 中正山 (Zhong zheng shan), but also to other mountains such as [local:/gallery/albums/da-tuen-shan 大屯山 (Da tun shan)].
([local:/gallery/data/zhong-zheng-shan/images/original/20100801-112703_MR3232_D90.jpg Click here for a bigger version].)

The initial section of the hiking trail is rather flat with the occasional flight of stairs (and mosquito).

The initial section of the hiking trail is rather flat with the occasional flight of stairs (and mosquito).

Now, this is the real entrance to the 中正山親山步道 (Zhong zheng shan hiking trail) on 登山路 (Deng shan road). Luckily, as it should be for any decent hiking trail entrance, it is fully equipped with a convenience store. :-)

Now, this is the real entrance to the 中正山親山步道 (Zhong zheng shan hiking trail) on 登山路 (Deng shan road). Luckily, as it should be for any decent hiking trail entrance, it is fully equipped with a convenience store. :-)

The second part of the trail is pretty steep and mostly stairs. It really takes it out of you on a hot day, especially since the forest somehow doesn't make the air feel cooler.

The second part of the trail is pretty steep and mostly stairs. It really takes it out of you on a hot day, especially since the forest somehow doesn't make the air feel cooler.

In this hut people used to burn timber to produce coal.

In this hut people used to burn timber to produce coal.

Taking a rest in the shade.

Taking a rest in the shade.

One of the many interesting butterflies in the area.

One of the many interesting butterflies in the area.

The beautiful panoramic view from the top of 中正山 (Zhong zheng shan). At the far right you can recognize 淡水 (Dan shui) and the mountain on the left is 觀音山 (Guan yin shan).

The beautiful panoramic view from the top of 中正山 (Zhong zheng shan). At the far right you can recognize 淡水 (Dan shui) and the mountain on the left is [local:/gallery/albums/guan-yin-shan 觀音山 (Guan yin shan)].

On a clear day you can see the whole city of Taipei including Taipei 101.

On a clear day you can see the whole city of Taipei including Taipei 101.

七星山 (Qi xing shan), literally translated "Seven star mountain", is the highest mountain in of the 陽明山國家公園 (Yang Ming Shan National Park). We had climbed it before and had a hard time seeing something. Apparently clouds hanging around its peak are a common phenomenon.

七星山 (Qi xing shan), literally translated "Seven star mountain", is the highest mountain in of the 陽明山國家公園 (Yang Ming Shan National Park). We had climbed it before and had a hard time seeing something. Apparently clouds hanging around its peak are a common phenomenon.

Luckily there's a two-story lookout platform on the top of 中正山 (Zhong zheng shan), otherwise it would be hard to see something because of all the trees.

Luckily there's a two-story lookout platform on the top of 中正山 (Zhong zheng shan), otherwise it would be hard to see something because of all the trees.

Ivy on top of 中正山 (Zhong zheng shan). If you look closely you can even see Taipei 101 in the background.

Ivy on top of 中正山 (Zhong zheng shan). If you look closely you can even see Taipei 101 in the background.

When we arrived and while we were taking a break we saw a lot of people coming and going. We thought that was odd since we had only encountered three people on the whole way up. What's more, none of them seemed to be working up a sweat.

The solution to this little puzzle was this sign at the top of the mountain. Apparently, for lazy people, the peak is also reachable by way of a 500 meter walk from the parking lot!

When we arrived and while we were taking a break we saw a lot of people coming and going. We thought that was odd since we had only encountered three people on the whole way up. What's more, none of them seemed to be working up a sweat.

The solution to this little puzzle was this sign at the top of the mountain. Apparently, for lazy people, the peak is also reachable by way of a 500 meter walk from the parking lot!

With plenty of time but limited water supplies we wanted to explore the area a little more, so we turned to this map of the 陽明山國家公園 (Yang Ming Shan National Park). (Click here for a bigger version.)

With plenty of time but limited water supplies we wanted to explore the area a little more, so we turned to this map of the 陽明山國家公園 (Yang Ming Shan National Park). ([local:/gallery/data/zhong-zheng-shan/images/original/20100801-141017_MR3297_D90.jpg Click here for a bigger version].)

Two 大鳳蝶 (Great Mormons) hanging on a branch over the hiking trail couldn't be bothered by the camera ...

Two 大鳳蝶 (Great Mormons) hanging on a branch over the hiking trail couldn't be bothered by the camera ...

This is where we left the 中正山親山步道 (Zhong zheng shan hiking trail) and took the small trail to 大屯西跟南峰 (Da tun shan west and south peaks).

This is where we left the 中正山親山步道 (Zhong zheng shan hiking trail) and took the small trail to 大屯西跟南峰 (Da tun shan west and south peaks).

When we reached this grassy area we were very happy we had long pants and even wished for long sleeves. The trail is mostly grown over since this trail is natural and doesn't see a lot of hikers.

When we reached this grassy area we were very happy we had long pants and even wished for long sleeves. The trail is mostly grown over since this trail is natural and doesn't see a lot of hikers.

Back in the forest without grass to worry about.

Back in the forest without grass to worry about.

At this little crossroads the path to 大屯南峰 (Da tun shan south peak) splits off. It's actually a very short detour but we were short on water, so we decided to save it for another day and head right to 大屯西峰 (Da tun shan west peak).

At this little crossroads the path to 大屯南峰 (Da tun shan south peak) splits off. It's actually a very short detour but we were short on water, so we decided to save it for another day and head right to 大屯西峰 (Da tun shan west peak).

And off to 大屯西峰 (Da tun shan west peak) we go ... Shortly after this point the trail becomes very steep.

And off to 大屯西峰 (Da tun shan west peak) we go ... Shortly after this point the trail becomes very steep.

But the climb is well worth it. The view back towards the city is very nice.

But the climb is well worth it. The view back towards the city is very nice.

This trail is definitely easier to climb up than down.

This trail is definitely easier to climb up than down.

From the top you can see the grassy area from before.

From the top you can see the grassy area from before.

Just when we got to the top of 大屯西峰 (Da tun shan west peak) the fog started wrapping the mountains around us and were already blocking the view eastwards.

Just when we got to the top of 大屯西峰 (Da tun shan west peak) the fog started wrapping the mountains around us and were already blocking the view eastwards.

On the way down we came across this shiny dragon fly.

On the way down we came across this shiny dragon fly.

Animals in that area really don't seem to be very shy. Good in case you didn't bring your super tele lens. :-)

Animals in that area really don't seem to be very shy. Good in case you didn't bring your super tele lens. :-)

On one of the maps the way down was given with 90 minutes for something like two kilometers. But when the path kept looking like this and turning into stairs it became obvious that that must have been a mistake. Even with the occasional water or photo break it still took us far less than an hour.

On one of the maps the way down was given with 90 minutes for something like two kilometers. But when the path kept looking like this and turning into stairs it became obvious that that must have been a mistake. Even with the occasional water or photo break it still took us far less than an hour.

On the way down there's a nice view of 觀音山 (Guan yin shan) again.

On the way down there's a nice view of [local:/gallery/albums/guan-yin-shan 觀音山 (Guan yin shan)] again.

We went down just in time to see the sun slowly start to set over the ocean.

We went down just in time to see the sun slowly start to set over the ocean.

觀音山 (Guan yin shan) during sunset.

觀音山 (Guan yin shan) during sunset.

Done at last! After around ten kilometers we had arrived at the 清天宮 (Qing tian temple) exit.

Done at last! After around ten kilometers we had arrived at the 清天宮 (Qing tian temple) exit.

An overview map of the hiking trails. Our trail was the one that is painted in blue; from the 登山路 (Deng shan lu) entrance via 中正山 (Zhong zheng shan) and 大屯西峰 (Da tun shan west peak) to 清天宮 (Qing tian temple). (Click here for a bigger version.)

An overview map of the hiking trails. Our trail was the one that is painted in blue; from the 登山路 (Deng shan lu) entrance via 中正山 (Zhong zheng shan) and 大屯西峰 (Da tun shan west peak) to 清天宮 (Qing tian temple). ([local:/gallery/data/zhong-zheng-shan/images/original/20100801-171027_MR3398_D90.jpg Click here for a bigger version].)

清天宮 (Qing tian temple).

清天宮 (Qing tian temple).

When you're tired even tiny plastic chairs are welcome while you're waiting for the bus. :-)

When you're tired even tiny plastic chairs are welcome while you're waiting for the bus. :-)

A picture is worth a thousand pound... I mean ... words.

A picture is worth a thousand pound... I mean ... words.

The colorful 新北投 (Xin bei tou) MRT line entering the station. Each car has its own theme, e.g. the hot springs for which the area is famous.

The colorful 新北投 (Xin bei tou) MRT line entering the station. Each car has its own theme, e.g. the hot springs for which the area is famous.

We couldn't quite figure out what the theme of this car was but it certainly brightens up the place.

We couldn't quite figure out what the theme of this car was but it certainly brightens up the place.

This scene was our favorite. Very cute! :-)

This scene was our favorite. Very cute! :-)

鳳崎落日登山步道 (Feng qi luo ri hiking trail)

posted by Martin Rubli at 18:01

This weekend we once again found ourselves with no particular plan and surprisingly good weather - the forecast had predicted rain for two days -, so we tried to find a short hiking trail in the same area as our dinner and shopping plans.

We quickly found something on what by now is one of our favorite hiking blogs. The family who writes it has been to so many places in Hsinchu County that you can always find a good suggestion or directions to a hard-to-find trail.

So, we settled for a rather short but nice little hiking trail near 新豐 (Xin feng), just north of 竹北 (Zhu bei), called 鳳崎落日登山步道 (Feng qi luo ri hiking trail). It's only about 3.3 kilometers one way but that coincided well with our habit of getting up (too) late.

The GPSies map ...

... and our photos. Have fun!


The entrance to the 鳳崎落日登山步道 (Feng qi luo ri mountain hiking trail). Given that the highest point of the trail is at about 135 meters above sea level the "mountain" part may be a little exaggerated, so don't expect any mountains or even snow. :-)

The entrance to the 鳳崎落日登山步道 (Feng qi luo ri mountain hiking trail). Given that the highest point of the trail is at about 135 meters above sea level the "mountain" part may be a little exaggerated, so don't expect any mountains or even snow. :-)

Near the entrance there's an old M48A3 Patton gun tank of the type that was used in the Vietnam war. It's not entirely obvious why it is where it is but it's still interesting.

Near the entrance there's an old [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M48_Patton#M48A3 M48A3 Patton] gun tank of the type that was used in the Vietnam war. It's not entirely obvious why it is where it is but it's still interesting.

鳳崎落日登山步道 (Feng qi luo ri hiking trail) has recently been (re?)built, so it's very nice to walk. Almost a little too easy ...

鳳崎落日登山步道 (Feng qi luo ri hiking trail) has recently been (re?)built, so it's very nice to walk. Almost a little too easy ...

When the forest lightens up not only can you see Hsinchu's coast and the beautiful ocean ...

When the forest lightens up not only can you see Hsinchu's coast and the beautiful ocean ...

... but also a life-sized Tyrannosaurus from the 小叮噹科學遊樂區 (Little Ding-dong Science Park), a small theme park right next to it.

... but also a life-sized Tyrannosaurus from the [http://www.ding-dong.com.tw/ 小叮噹科學遊樂區 (Little Ding-dong Science Park)], a small theme park right next to it.

Apart from a theme park the trail passes an army tank exercise area and what looks like the remains of a landfill where some people are still treasure hunting.

Apart from a theme park the trail passes an army tank exercise area and what looks like the remains of a landfill where some people are still treasure hunting.

The trail eventually leads to ...

The trail eventually leads to ...

... a little recreational area for children of all ages to play.

... a little recreational area for children of all ages to play.

Army bunkers can be seen all along the way ...

Army bunkers can be seen all along the way ...

... as well as caterpillars and other animals.

... as well as caterpillars and other animals.

The 鳳崎落日登山步道 (Feng qi luo ri hiking trail) eventually leads to an open area that has a little shop/café and - cover your ears - a karaoke place where people perform who have been banned from more urban karaoke bars and are now torturing wildlife and nature loving hikers.

The 鳳崎落日登山步道 (Feng qi luo ri hiking trail) eventually leads to an open area that has a little shop/café and - cover your ears - a karaoke place where people perform who have been banned from more urban karaoke bars and are now torturing wildlife and nature loving hikers.

Apart from the karaoke background it would be the perfect place to watch a sunset.

Apart from the karaoke background it would be the perfect place to watch a sunset.

Said little shop has prices that can easily compete with your around-the-corner convenience store.

Said little shop has prices that can easily compete with your around-the-corner convenience store.

For a short while the 鳳崎落日登山步道 (Feng qi luo ri hiking trail) becomes a little more natural, just the way we like it.

For a short while the 鳳崎落日登山步道 (Feng qi luo ri hiking trail) becomes a little more natural, just the way we like it.

At the end of the trail you'll see the 蓮花寺 (Lotus temple).

At the end of the trail you'll see the 蓮花寺 (Lotus temple).

I always enjoy the warning signs. I've been to 3000+ meter mountains that apparently had fewer dangers. :-) My favorites are the ones about the killer bees and the cliff!

I always enjoy the warning signs. I've been to 3000+ meter mountains that apparently had fewer dangers. :-) My favorites are the ones about the killer bees and the cliff!

A nicely done 3D map of the whole hiking trail. You can even see the tank from the trail head at the lower right!

A nicely done 3D map of the whole hiking trail. You can even see the tank from the trail head at the lower right!

A 觀音 (Guan yin) statue in front of the 蓮花寺 (Lotus temple).

A 觀音 (Guan yin) statue in front of the 蓮花寺 (Lotus temple).

The view of West Hsinchu and Zhu bei taken from ...

The view of West Hsinchu and Zhu bei taken from ...

... one of the panorama platforms along the trail.

... one of the panorama platforms along the trail.

Jia li shan (加里山)

posted by Martin Rubli at 08:09

Instead of racing a dragon boat or eating rice dumplings we used the recent Dragon boat festival holiday for a hike to the nearby "training mountain", Jia li shan (加里山).

Dragon boat festival also marks the end of the rainy season. This year the sky was right on time and after a few days of relatively heavy rain we had a (mostly) dry day to enjoy our hike.

After seeing a few blog articles and Panoramio photos I had got the impression that it must be a fairly easy hike with maybe one or two short segments that involve pulling yourself up on a rope. Far from it! On the last quarter of the trail your hands are just as busy as your legs.

An elevation of 800 meters on about 4 km length makes it an interesting day hike. Below are the trail record on GPSies and the photos from my gallery. Enjoy!


Getting ready for 加里山 (Jia li shan) ...

Getting ready for 加里山 (Jia li shan) ...

A mushroom "farm" along the way.

A mushroom "farm" along the way.

The first obstacle on the way to 加里山 (Jia li shan) is a creek that has to be crossed. A few hundred meters before this creek we met a young couple who had just turned around because of the high water level. It had indeed rained for a few days before our hike but we didn't want to give up that easily. So, some of us simply took off their shoes ...

The first obstacle on the way to 加里山 (Jia li shan) is a creek that has to be crossed. A few hundred meters before this creek we met a young couple who had just turned around because of the high water level. It had indeed rained for a few days before our hike but we didn't want to give up that easily. So, some of us simply took off their shoes ...

... while others jumped across a bunch of large stones making for an extra adrenaline kick. :-)

... while others jumped across a bunch of large stones making for an extra adrenaline kick. :-)

After a bit of jumping, climbing, and wading everybody made it safely to the middle of the stream.

After a bit of jumping, climbing, and wading everybody made it safely to the middle of the stream.

From the middle the 佳里小橋 (Little Jia Li bridge) leads across the second half. We're not sure why the bridge's name carries the character 佳 instead of 加, but that's what the sign says, so we're sticking with it. :-)

From the middle the 佳里小橋 (Little Jia Li bridge) leads across the second half. We're not sure why the bridge's name carries the character 佳 instead of 加, but that's what the sign says, so we're sticking with it. :-)

This morning the 佳里小橋 (Little Jia Li bridge) was slightly under water but we made it anyway with only minor amounts of water in our shoes.

This morning the 佳里小橋 (Little Jia Li bridge) was slightly under water but we made it anyway with only minor amounts of water in our shoes.

加里山山屋 (Jia li shan mountain shelter), a little less than half-way to the peak, is a good place to take a quick rest. (Some less congenial people from other hiking groups also seem to think it's a good place to smoke, but the clean air of a hiking trail never is!)

加里山山屋 (Jia li shan mountain shelter), a little less than half-way to the peak, is a good place to take a quick rest. (Some less congenial people from other hiking groups also seem to think it's a good place to smoke, but the clean air of a hiking trail never is!)

Some people have interesting ways of crossing obstacles.

Some people have interesting ways of crossing obstacles.

The last quarter of the hiking trail involves a lot of climbing on ropes and roots, which was a bit of a challenge given the wet floor, but nevertheless a lot of fun.

The last quarter of the hiking trail involves a lot of climbing on ropes and roots, which was a bit of a challenge given the wet floor, but nevertheless a lot of fun.

After roughly 800 meters of ascent we were finally at the top of 加里山 (Jia li shan), 2220 meters above sea level.

After roughly 800 meters of ascent we were finally at the top of 加里山 (Jia li shan), 2220 meters above sea level.

Time for a group photo!

Time for a group photo!

Happy, yet slightly disappointed over the (inexistent) view we took a brief rest and then got ready to descend a few minutes and find a quiet place to cook lunch.

Happy, yet slightly disappointed over the (inexistent) view we took a brief rest and then got ready to descend a few minutes and find a quiet place to cook lunch.

Our lunch: Noodle soup with vegetables, egg, and meat balls.

Our lunch: Noodle soup with vegetables, egg, and meat balls.

Hiking makes hungry! 吃很大!

Hiking makes hungry! 吃很大!

The descent was almost slower than the way up but certainly entertaining.

The descent was almost slower than the way up but certainly entertaining.

Because there had again been some light showers in the area we were a little afraid at first that the water level might have risen again. Luckily it hadn't and the 佳里小橋 (Little Jia Li bridge) was already back out of the water - still slightly unstable though as it would dangerously tilt the moment someone stepped on it.

Because there had again been some light showers in the area we were a little afraid at first that the water level might have risen again. Luckily it hadn't and the 佳里小橋 (Little Jia Li bridge) was already back out of the water - still slightly unstable though as it would dangerously tilt the moment someone stepped on it.

View of the refreshing creek ...

View of the refreshing creek ...

Crossing 佳里小橋 (Little Jia Li bridge) for the second time.

Crossing 佳里小橋 (Little Jia Li bridge) for the second time.

Done! After a solid day of hiking we came to understand how 加里山 (Jia li shan) got its nickname of "training mountain".

Done! After a solid day of hiking we came to understand how 加里山 (Jia li shan) got its nickname of "training mountain".

比來山 (Bi lai shan)

posted by Martin Rubli at 17:04

Another one of our emergency hikes lead us to 比來山 (Bi lai shan), a small mountain not to far from Hsinchu that had been recommended to us by someone we met on a previous hike.

Since many mountains don't have official hiking trails it can be a little tricky to find the trail entrance and you never know how many different trails there are. We had found a blog post that described a hike to said mountain and decided to try and approach it from the other side - unfortunately with little luck because our road of choice turned out to be a dead end.

Either way, the view was good and the hike was just right to take advantage of another rare sunny Saturday in the middle of the rain season.


This is what we thought (and had been told) is the road up to 比來山 (Bi lai shan). Quite nice to hike because of the shade and the slightly lower temperature than down in the valley.

This is what we thought (and had been told) is the road up to 比來山 (Bi lai shan). Quite nice to hike because of the shade and the slightly lower temperature than down in the valley.

There are plenty of little lizards along the way.

There are plenty of little lizards along the way.

The forest ranges from dense vegetation and bamboo to well organized trees like these. :-)

The forest ranges from dense vegetation and bamboo to well organized trees like these. :-)

The odd shaped mountain is 五指山 (Five finger mountain), one of my favorite (masochistically speaking) bike destinations, but from this angle only three fingers are visible.

The odd shaped mountain is 五指山 (Five finger mountain), one of my favorite (masochistically speaking) bike destinations, but from this angle only three fingers are visible.

Butterflies are also plentiful on 比來山 (Bi lai shan).

Butterflies are also plentiful on 比來山 (Bi lai shan).

Later on the road becomes more narrow with skin-cutting grass growing over the sides, so it's a good idea to wear long pants!

Later on the road becomes more narrow with skin-cutting grass growing over the sides, so it's a good idea to wear long pants!

Again the three fingers of 五指山 (Five finger mountain) in the back.

Again the three fingers of 五指山 (Five finger mountain) in the back.

And finally the disappointing dead-end just a few hundred meters below the peak. Well, nothing left to do but turning around and try a different route next time!

And finally the disappointing dead-end just a few hundred meters below the peak. Well, nothing left to do but turning around and try a different route next time!

A dragon fly along the way.

A dragon fly along the way.

Nothing quite like sitting at a river on a hot summer day, so to cool down from our little hike we stopped by the 頭前溪 (Tou qian river).

Nothing quite like sitting at a river on a hot summer day, so to cool down from our little hike we stopped by the 頭前溪 (Tou qian river).

The 南昌橋 (Nan chang bridge) that leads over the 頭前溪 (Tou qian river).

The 南昌橋 (Nan chang bridge) that leads over the 頭前溪 (Tou qian river).

One of nature's aerodynamic miracles.

One of nature's aerodynamic miracles.

A cute stray dog we saw on the way home.

A cute stray dog we saw on the way home.

A frog goes hiking: 合歡山 (He huan shan) - Day 2

posted by Martin Rubli at 11:58

I'm sure viewers of the first part have been anticipating the rest of the photos from last month's trip to 合歡山 (He huan shan).

Sunday first took us to 合歡山東峰 (He huan shan east peak). And the two of us who still had enough energy bagged the - admittedly easy - trophies of 石門山 (Shi men shan) and 合歡尖山 (He huan jian shan) as well. The latter two are really just better hills but the wind sure made it fun. It brought back memories of our typhoon weekend in 墾丁 (Kenting) over two years ago. It was hard to stand at times.

Unfortunately the wind also brought a lot of fog with it, so if you're looking for more great views you'll have to come back in a few weeks or so. :-)


Nothing like a little ham and irony to start a new day ...

Nothing like a little ham and irony to start a new day ...

The area around 合歡山東峰 (He huan shan east peak) is full with gorgeous 杜鵑 (Rhododendron) bushes.

The area around 合歡山東峰 (He huan shan east peak) is full with gorgeous 杜鵑 (Rhododendron) bushes.

The hiking trail up to 合歡山東峰 (He huan shan east peak). In good conditions - weather and legs - a return trip might only take about an hour.

The hiking trail up to 合歡山東峰 (He huan shan east peak). In good conditions - weather and legs - a return trip might only take about an hour.

After a short hike we were at the top of 合歡山東峰 (He huan shan east peak), the 33rd highest mountain in Taiwan with 3421 m altitude.

After a short hike we were at the top of 合歡山東峰 (He huan shan east peak), the 33rd highest mountain in Taiwan with 3421 m altitude.

Joe at the top of foggy 合歡山東峰 (He huan shan east peak).

Joe at the top of foggy 合歡山東峰 (He huan shan east peak).

合歡山東峰 (He huan shan east peak) actually has two little peaks right next to each other and it's hard to tell which one is higher. The one in the back counts as the real peak with 3421 m altitude and the sign on the one in front carries the number "3409". If that's supposed to be the altitude then some people have some calibrating to do ...

合歡山東峰 (He huan shan east peak) actually has two little peaks right next to each other and it's hard to tell which one is higher. The one in the back counts as the real peak with 3421 m altitude and the sign on the one in front carries the number "3409". If that's supposed to be the altitude then some people have some calibrating to do ...

Luckily there's a sign in all four directions that shows the view on a sunny day. Otherwise it would have been pretty hard to tell that the scenery is nice. :-)

Luckily there's a sign in all four directions that shows the view on a sunny day. Otherwise it would have been pretty hard to tell that the scenery is nice. :-)

It's hard to describe how a little bit of hot soup or tea makes you feel better when you're sitting in the wind at the top of a foggy mountain. But trust me, it does!

It's hard to describe how a little bit of hot soup or tea makes you feel better when you're sitting in the wind at the top of a foggy mountain. But trust me, it does!

One of the many 杜鵑 (Rhododendron) bushes in the 合歡山 (He huan shan) area.

One of the many 杜鵑 (Rhododendron) bushes in the 合歡山 (He huan shan) area.

杜鵑 (Rhododendron)

杜鵑 (Rhododendron)

杜鵑 (Rhododendron)

杜鵑 (Rhododendron)

Checking off mountains at its cheapest! After a ridiculous fifteen minutes walk from the street we have reached 石門山 (Shi men shan), which is the 68th on the list of the 台灣百岳 (Taiwan's Highest 100 mountains). It is only 3236 meters high and barely stands out from its environment but thanks to its status as an important triangulation point it is part of the list.

Checking off mountains at its cheapest! After a ridiculous fifteen minutes walk from the street we have reached 石門山 (Shi men shan), which is the 68th on the [http://zh.wikipedia.org/zh-tw/台灣百岳列表 list of the 台灣百岳 (Taiwan's Highest 100 mountains)]. It is only 3236 meters high and barely stands out from its environment but thanks to its status as an important triangulation point it is part of the list.

石門山 (Shi men shan) may not be a huge mountain but it can certainly play in the league of the windiest mountains!

石門山 (Shi men shan) may not be a huge mountain but it can certainly play in the league of the windiest mountains!

Climbing 合歡尖山 (He huan jian shan). This little peak doesn't count as one of the 台灣百岳 (Taiwan's Highest 100 mountains) but it's actually slightly more difficult and a lot more fun to climb than 石門山 (Shi men shan). Okay, the photo makes it look more dramatic than it really is but at least it's not just walking. :-)

Climbing 合歡尖山 (He huan jian shan). This little peak doesn't count as one of the 台灣百岳 (Taiwan's Highest 100 mountains) but it's actually slightly more difficult and a lot more fun to climb than 石門山 (Shi men shan). Okay, the photo makes it look more dramatic than it really is but at least it's not just walking. :-)

Approaching the top of 合歡尖山 (He huan jian shan) ...

Approaching the top of 合歡尖山 (He huan jian shan) ...

That's what people on Mount Everest must feel like ...

That's what people on Mount Everest must feel like ...

At the top of 合歡尖山 (He huan jian shan).
Yes, I know, I'm holding the flag upside down but that's only to express my disappointment over not being able to check off another peak from the Top 100 list. I guess I have to face the fact that from now on each one of them will come at a higher price!

At the top of 合歡尖山 (He huan jian shan).
Yes, I know, I'm holding the flag upside down but that's only to express my disappointment over not being able to check off another peak from the Top 100 list. I guess I have to face the fact that from now on each one of them will come at a higher price!

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