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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blissful solitude in the mountains 大坑という山地方でひとりでハイキングをしている

The predicted new cold wave arrived in the late afternoon today, but fortunately this morning it was warm and mostly sunny. And "fortunate" is the operative word, as I woke up at 6 this morning, and rode my scooter out to the Tak'eng (Dakeng) 大坑 area to get in some uphill walking before lunchtime. Though there were some drops of rain on the ride up to the trails, and a few dark clouds passed overhead, for the most part it was sunny, clear and relatively warm, and the clothing I'm wearing in the picture below was all I needed on the paths.

My scooter was the only vehicle in the parking lot of the No. 1 Trail, and I soon discovered why. Back in November of last year, Michael Turton and I had walked this trail, and came across a section that had collapsed into a ravine. Five months later nothing had changed. In fact, soon after leaving the parking lot to start the climb to the top (length: 1520 meters, or 0.94 miles; elevation: between 395 and 700 meters, or 1296 and 2297 feet), I encountered yellow crime scene-type tape blocking the way, and indicating the trail was closed. Choosing to ignore it, I continued on, and to my delight, the No. 1 was still in good condition (with the exception of the aforementioned collapsed section). Other than an elderly couple who were on their way down (and also chose to ignore official closure notices), I didn't encounter a single soul all the way to the top. The combination of solitude, good weather and clear views doesn't happen often in the hiking trails close to Taiwan's major urban centers, so I was glad indeed to be out there today. I had hoped to encounter some monkeys (I've seen them before on this same trail), but you can't everything.

Upon reaching the top of the No. 1 (and climbing over some more "Do not enter" tape), I walked along the ridge to the No. 2 Trail, and walked down via that route. I passed several hikers going up, but not as many as I would've expected on a fine morning like this one. I walked back along the road to the first parking lot, where my scooter had now been joined by a few cars, got on my bike and rode home, getting back to Fengyuan (Fongyuan) 豊原 around 11. All in all, not a bad way to start a normal weekday.

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