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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fire, fire on the mountain

I've really got to pay more attention to where I'm going. Today, while hiking up to the top of Huoyanshan 火炎山 in San'i 三義, Miaoli County 苗栗縣, I literally walked into four spider webs, inadvertently tearing them apart and getting my clothes covered in cobwebs. In addition, I had to destroy three other webs because there was no way to get around or under them. I pissed off a lot of orb spiders this afternoon, but rest assured, no arachnids were harmed in the making of this hike.

The last time I was on "Fire Mountain" was back in May, which you can read about here. At that time, I spent too long admiring the view of the barren hillsides, and didn't have enough time to see how far the trail went. This time I concentrated on the path, and in roughly two hours I reached the peak of Huoyanshan, 602 meters (1975 feet) above sea level. The trail continued on from there, but it soon narrowed into a ridge with steep drops on both sides, before becoming lost in the undergrowth. For all intents and purposes, the 602 meter-sign was the end of the road.

Though hazy, the view from the summit was still pretty impressive, with a country club in the foreground (golfers and carts being visible with the aid of binoculars), and, in the background, the power station at T'unghsiao 通霄 and the waters of the Taiwan Strait 台灣海峽.

Now that I knew how far the trail went, I could take my time and enjoy the views on the way back down, which is exactly what I did. In all, I was on the trail for over four hours this afternoon.


Today's hike is dedicated to the memory of Louis Johns, and John and Hetty Cargill, one of my best friends, and my uncle and aunt, respectively, who are sadly no longer with us.

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