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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Like Misty Water, I Like Fog and Haze...

References to obscure Kinks songs aside, I like walking in misty mountains ("Misty Mountain Hop" is too obvious). Though the sky over the central mountains looked ominously dark as I was leaving Fengyuan (Hōgen) 豊原 shortly before noon, I pressed on to Dakeng. Riding up the winding mountain road towards the No. 3 trailhead, the still-wet road surface and the water streaming down the usually-dry riverbed suggested that it was raining higher up in the fog-shrouded mountain. I decided, however, that barring thunder and lightning, I would go through with the planned climb. Soon after I started my ascent, two hikers coming down told me it was raining at the top but, as it turned out, I never got wet. The fog was thick and the steps were slick, but I never had to take the rain poncho out of my backpack. In fact, as I was nearing the start of the No. 4 trail along the ridgetop (about 90 minutes into the hike), the sun burst through and remained with me all the way back down the mountain and to my parked scooter, two hours and 45 minutes later.


A little surprisingly, there were others out there despite the less than ideal weather conditions. Hiking during the week is much better than doing so on the weekends, and not only because there are fewer people on the trails between Monday and Friday. On Saturdays and Sundays (and national holidays), the Dakeng trails are crowded with weekend hikers, and with them, the vendors and KTV shacks. Large groups of people are continually going up and down on those days, and lets just say that not all of them truly appreciate the show that nature is staging. While the noise levels are tolerable, it's much harder to put up with the comments and remarks directed at and about the hairy barbarian hiking in their midst.

Weekdays, in contrast, bring out the solitary walkers like myself. By and large, these folks don't seem to be unduly surprised to find a foreigner out there also enjoying the mountains. A quick greeting, and then they continue on their way, which is the way it should be. It's certainly much better than being the source of amusement for some children and their parents, or a chance for some guy to impress his girlfriend.

As for that Kinks song:

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