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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!

A frog goes hiking: 合歡山 (He huan shan) - Day 1

posted by Martin Rubli at 16:02

As regular readers of my blog will have noticed we have been hiking quite a bit in the last months. After a bunch of smaller afternoon hikes to break in the shoes it was finally time to take our equipment - and our legs - to the next level: some of Taiwan's highest mountains.

The list of Taiwan's 100 highest mountains is pretty famous here but only few people are adventurous enough to complete it. Some mountains are only accessible after days of difficult hiking and the weather is a factor not to be underestimated.

Luckily some of these 100 mountains are quite easy to conquer. The easiest ones are all part of 合歡山 (He huan shan), so that it's perfectly possible to climb five of them in a good weekend of relaxed hiking. We managed to do four of them - two per day. On Saturday we hiked 北峰 (north peak) and walked up (it can't be called hiking ...) 主峰 (main peak).

So, what's with the frog you ask? Well, you'll see it in the photos below. Let's just say that green wasn't the color of my choice but now that I look like a frog I figured I might as well make this the motto of my Top-100 attack! :-)

Enjoy the photos! (If you liked them, there's a link to more at the bottom.)


The view from our homestay at night. Not too bad you think? Wait for daylight! :-)

The view from our homestay at night. Not too bad you think? Wait for daylight! :-)

The balcony of our homestay.

The balcony of our homestay.

Daylight shines an interesting twilight on the 清境 (Qing jing) area. On the one hand there's the amazing mountain scenery that has also led to the area endearingly being called 小瑞士 - "Little Switzerland". On the other hand it displays the touristic and kitchy nature of anything human-built in the area.

On the right side you can see one of the countless "European-style" buildings in the area. What makes these homestays so ugly is not only the fact that the architect has likely never visited Europe but also that they try to combine all kinds of different styles into one.

But despair not! We had higher things in mind than joining city people staring at the origin of milk and eggs on the 清境農場 (Qing jing farm): Climbing several of Taiwan's 100 highest mountains!

Daylight shines an interesting twilight on the 清境 (Qing jing) area. On the one hand there's the amazing mountain scenery that has also led to the area endearingly being called 小瑞士 - "Little Switzerland". On the other hand it displays the touristic and kitchy nature of anything human-built in the area.

On the right side you can see one of the countless "European-style" buildings in the area. What makes these homestays so ugly is not only the fact that the architect has likely never visited Europe but also that they try to combine all kinds of different styles into one.

But despair not! We had higher things in mind than joining city people staring at the origin of milk and eggs on the 清境農場 (Qing jing farm): Climbing several of Taiwan's 100 highest mountains!

View from the road that leads up to 合歡山 (He huan shan).

View from the road that leads up to 合歡山 (He huan shan).

At the trail head ready for the hike up to 合歡山北峰 (He huan shan north peak). The spirits are still high!

At the trail head ready for the hike up to 合歡山北峰 (He huan shan north peak). The spirits are still high!

Hiking up to 合歡山北峰 (He huan shan north peak). Joe and I were carrying heavy backpacks to train for more strenuous trips to come.

Hiking up to 合歡山北峰 (He huan shan north peak). Joe and I were carrying heavy backpacks to train for more strenuous trips to come.

The male alpine version of the common image of city girls carrying umbrellas to escape the feared sun tan.

The male alpine version of the common image of city girls carrying umbrellas to escape the feared sun tan.

Looking eastwards and one kilometer to go.

Looking eastwards and one kilometer to go.

I was rather stunned to see this. A huge reflector panel has been installed on the hill, apparently to make 合歡山 (He huan shan) clearly visible from other peaks in the area. I haven't seen it in action yet but trips to said other peaks are in planning! :-)

I was rather stunned to see this. A huge reflector panel has been installed on the hill, apparently to make 合歡山 (He huan shan) clearly visible from other peaks in the area. I haven't seen it in action yet but trips to said other peaks are in planning! :-)

Group photo at the top of 合歡山北峰 (He huan shan north peak).

Group photo at the top of 合歡山北峰 (He huan shan north peak).

Ivy posing with a backpack that she can hardly lift ...

Ivy posing with a backpack that she can hardly lift ...

... and for comparison the real backpack. :-)

... and for comparison the real backpack. :-)

Apparently hiking makes some people more tired than others. Then again, it does look inviting to take a nap in the sun at the top of a mountain!

Apparently hiking makes some people more tired than others. Then again, it does look inviting to take a nap in the sun at the top of a mountain!

At the top of 合歡山北峰 (He huan shan north peak).

At the top of 合歡山北峰 (He huan shan north peak).

Back at the trail head. The spirits are tired but happy. :-)

Back at the trail head. The spirits are tired but happy. :-)


(If your computer doesn't display Chinese: The shadow looks like the Chinese character for 'Mountain'.)

山
''(If your computer doesn't display Chinese: The shadow looks like the Chinese character for 'Mountain'.)''

At the top of 合歡山主峰 (He huan shan main peak), the 34th highest mountain in Taiwan with 3416 m above sea level. Given how easy it is to walk up there it's really not much of an achievement but hey, a list is a list. :-)

At the top of 合歡山主峰 (He huan shan main peak), the 34th highest mountain in Taiwan with 3416 m above sea level. Given how easy it is to walk up there it's really not much of an achievement but hey, [http://zh.wikipedia.org/zh-tw/台灣百岳列表 a list is a list]. :-)

Cooking noodle soup at the top of a mountain is the best way to lift spirits and warm you up!

Cooking noodle soup at the top of a mountain is the best way to lift spirits and warm you up!

Sunset from 合歡山主峰 (He huan shan main peak).

Sunset from 合歡山主峰 (He huan shan main peak).

There are more photos in my gallery, so be sure to check it out as well.

Part two will be coming up soon ...


騎龍古道 (Qi long ancient trail)

posted by Martin Rubli at 16:48

Over the two months we were not exactly blessed with good weather. To be more precise: The weekdays were sunny and warm but week after week rain clouds and fog would pull up, just in time to ruin the outdoor weekend.

Luckily there's an exception to every rule, so we came up with something we like to call "emergency hikes". An emergency hike consists of a) a hiking route that needs virtually no preparation and b) no expectations. Basically, they're perfect when the clouds suddenly lift and you can no longer stand to be trapped inside.

One such emergency hike was 騎龍古道 (Qi long ancient trail), not too far from here. The trail itself is very short and more of a walk than a hike, but the area is nice and very quiet:

Upper entrance to the 騎龍古道 (Qi long ancient trail)

Upper entrance to the 騎龍古道 (Qi long ancient trail)

騎龍古道 (Qi long ancient trail)

騎龍古道 (Qi long ancient trail)

View from one of the three old bridges that cross the 騎龍古道 (Qi long ancient trail). These bridges are made partially from 糯米 (Nuo mi), a kind of glutinous rice that can serve as a very particular building material.

View from one of the three old bridges that cross the 騎龍古道 (Qi long ancient trail). These bridges are made partially from 糯米 (Nuo mi), a kind of glutinous rice that can serve as a very particular building material.

We didn't quite get what the tires along the way are for but it seems at least the spiders are enjoying them. :-)

We didn't quite get what the tires along the way are for but it seems at least the spiders are enjoying them. :-)

騎龍古道 (Qi long ancient trail)

騎龍古道 (Qi long ancient trail)

Coconut trees along the way? Or just Papaya? Botanists, feel free to e-mail your opinion! :-)

Coconut trees along the way? Or just Papaya? Botanists, feel free to e-mail your opinion! :-)

騎龍古道 (Qi long ancient trail)

騎龍古道 (Qi long ancient trail)

A tiny temple close to the lower entrance of the 騎龍古道 (Qi long ancient trail).

A tiny temple close to the lower entrance of the 騎龍古道 (Qi long ancient trail).

Humans are not the only ones enjoying the rare few hours of sun ...

Humans are not the only ones enjoying the rare few hours of sun ...

View from the 大山背客家人文生態館 (Da shan bei Hakka culture center)

View from the 大山背客家人文生態館 (Da shan bei Hakka culture center)

後山古道 (Back mountain ancient trail), which must be one of the shortest trails ever. The round trip takes around five minutes. :-)

後山古道 (Back mountain ancient trail), which must be one of the shortest trails ever. The round trip takes around five minutes. :-)

Poinsettia (聖誕紅) along the way.

Poinsettia (聖誕紅) along the way.

Rice fields along 竹34縣.

Rice fields along 竹34縣.

Link to the full album


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