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2014-10-30

2014年10月29日 五十縱走(三峽五寮尖-大溪白石山/石厝坑山全稜縱走) 山道10時間の縦走

白石山の大石頂上から歩いた峰々を眺める
今までに訪れた岩稜で有名な三峽五寮尖大溪白石山は、同じ山脈の両端に位置している。この二つの間をつなぐ稜線を全部歩く縦走は、五寮尖の五と白石山の石と同じ発音である十をとって五十縦走と呼ばれる。下山は白石山のすぐわきにある石厝坑山から打鐵寮古道を経て下った。五寮尖登山口から歩き始めて打鐵寮古道入口まで、十時間を越える強行軍である。

東から西へ縦走する
多くのピークを越えていく縦走
最近は、長時間の山歩きをしている。これは、山を多く歩きたいという気持ちもあるが、同時に自分の年令で今後更に高い山を登るための確認とトレーニングの意味もある。これから人生の残り三分の一を過ごしていくにつき、どこまで元気で山に登れるか、突き詰めれば健康で過ごせるかのテーマを実践していきたい。そんな事を思っている。

車道を登る、合作橋からの山道を合わせる
今回の山行は、四名のパーティーだ。最近一緒に登っているLさんLSさん、そして初めての参加する女性Gさんだ。三峽のバス停で集合する。7時発車の807番バスで登山口、互助橋へ向かう。先月逐鹿山-拔刀爾山縦走の時も同じバスで向かったが、通学バスとして利用されているので大埔國小バス停まで学生で満員だ。そこから僅か数分で7時22分互助橋につく。秋の気配は山里に来ている。半袖だと少し涼しい。身支度をして、車道を登り始める。わきの電柱にペンキで道標が書いてある。数分で赤レンガの古い建物の雑貨屋の前に来る。店主が道を示してくれる。

玉観音寺、右に進む
急坂が続く。7時46分、左から合作橋から上ってくる土の道がある。そのすぐ上が玉觀音寺である。左に分岐する道は、岩尾根方向に行く。振り返って望めば、谷を挟んで対岸に白雞三山がある。そのまま舗装路を登る。すぐ右にコンクリ製の水槽がある。左に土の道が登っていく。ここが登山口である。7時57分、少し休憩する。

尾根道を五寮尖へ登る
急坂をゆく
五寮尖は、多くの登山者が訪れる人気の山である。普通は岩尾根を登りこの道で下山する。筆者も以前そのように歩いた。今日は五寮尖から更に縦走するので、時間を要する岩尾根は通らずこの道から登頂する。ジグザグ道を登り5分ほどで尾根に取り付く。展望が開け、三峽の街が眼下に望める。ステンレスタンクが道わきにあり、水が飲めるようになっている。コップも置かれているが、ホコリをかぶっている。

五寮尖頂上も近い
尾根道は急坂や緩やかな道が折り返し続く。道のどまんなかに大きな人面蜘蛛が巣をはっている。玉觀音寺製の道案内板11号を見る。登山口から頂上までの道のりの約半分の位置だ。岩が現れ、補助ロープのセクションを過ぎる。そこここに岩が露出する五寮尖の特徴が出てきた。最後の坂を登り、松が岩のわきに生える場所を過ぎる。頂上のすぐ下は岩壁であるが、縄梯子だけでなく前回来訪時にはなかったアルミ梯子も取り付けられている。

五寮尖頂上からの眺め、前方中央は白雞三山、左に三峡が見える
插天山脈方向を望む
岩尾根への分岐部
8時52分五寮尖頂上(標高645m)に着く。登り約1時間半弱、結構よいペースだ。前回岩尾根経由で来た時は、3時間以上要している。好天の山頂からは、とても良い眺めだ。眼前の白雞三山から熊空山への大きな連山の奥には、插天山脈が望める。熊空谷の突き当りに大きな山容を見せる山は逐鹿山のようだ。更に右を見れば金平山、東眼山の向こうに南插天山の峰が頭を見せている。白雞三山の左には、天上山連山の向こうに板橋あたりの街が望める。今日はとっても良い天気だ。

三峡歩道のキロポスト
休憩後9時過ぎに縦走路を歩み始める。岩が露出する道を下り、岩尾根からの道との分岐を右にとり、龍山巖を目指す。このセクションは三峽歩道として、地方行政によるメンテがされているので、道の状態はよい。龍山巖へは、まだ2km強ある。小さなピークを数多く越えていく。崖際などには、ロープ手すりなどが取り付けられている。約30分ほどで、龍山巖まであと1.2kmのキロポストを過ぎる。稜線道は、上り下りを繰り返す。

天然石浮彫



10時12分、天然石浮彫に着く。設置から時間がすぎ、だいぶ汚れてしまっている説明板によれば、様々なものに見立てた奇岩がたくさんあるようだ。しかしどれだどれだかよく判らない。またピークを登り下ると、黒松三姉妹の姉と妹松が道わきにある。そのすぐ先は標高660mの貳龍尖である。下って行くと、龍山巖のお寺が現れた。10時32分、五寮先から約1時間半の道のりである。お寺の先にベンチがあり休憩する。水道も引かれている。ここから右に阿屘尖への道が分岐する。

貳龍尖(龍山巖)
龍山巖
車道を進む、右奥に金面山がのぞく
縦走は、まずお寺からくだり車道を進む。すぐ右に道が分岐する。この道をとって登ったが、通信塔で終わりになっている。引き返し下り気味の車道をいく。右前方に金面山の尖ったピークがのぞく。約10分強で、右に山道が分岐し登っていく。ここが縦走路だ。孟宗竹林を過ぎると、道の状態は悪くなる。分岐わきの電柱に優良で歩きやすいと書いてあったが、どうやら皮肉かもしれない。草深い道は、他の不人気山と同じ程度だが、先ほどの龍山巖までの道と比べると落差が大きい。この部分は歩く登山者が少ないようだ。実際、我々のような全稜線縦走でなければ、ここを歩く意味があまりない。

上り下りを繰り返す
小ピークが続き、上り下りを繰り返す。振り返れば阿屘尖と貳龍尖が望める。右の大渓側の街も、ところどころ木々の間から見える。土の縦走路を進むこと約45分、左に大きく曲がりこみジメジメした場所を過ぎる。コンクリ柱が立っている。少し休憩するが、藪蚊が多く閉口する。虫除けを取り出し塗る。一度よい道を横切り、また草深い縦走路を進む。根節蘭の黄色い花が咲いている。金面山がだいぶ近づいてきている。12時28分、左からの山道が合流する。心持ち道の状態が良くなったかと思いながら更に進むと、12時38分に金面山への分岐に着く。ここで食事休憩を取る。ここまで歩行5時間、今日の全行程のほぼ中間点だ。

草に覆われた縦走路
金面山への分岐部
30分ほどの休憩後、出発する。本来金面山へ往復するつもりであった。これからの道のりと日没時間を考えると、他メンバーも以前訪れたことがあるので金面山へは行かず、そのまま縦走路を進むことにする。約二年前に歩いているので、様子はわかっている。道の状態も龍山巖からのセクションに比べれば良い。露出する大岩からは、金面山が、そしてその右の遠くには阿屘尖と貳龍尖がだいぶ遠くになっている。竹林を通り過ぎ、上り下りを経て13時56分、十三分山(標高615m)に着く。頂上を横切るように倒木が倒れている。

竹林をゆく樹走路
時間は14時を回っている。休憩のあと、縦走路を進む。桂竹から孟宗竹に変わる。孟宗竹は、他の植物が生えないように毒を出すということで、地面には草木がない。そのためすっきりした林相になり、ひときわ美しい。竹林をくだると土の産業道路に下りる。その先を進むとまた桂竹林の上り坂を行く。岩の露出部に来る。ここからも展望がよい。右に桃園の台地が広がっている。小ピークをすぎ14時40分、右に石厝坑山への道を分ける。あとでここを進むが、先に白石山頂上を往復する。14時52分、白石山(標高625m)頂上の大きな石の上に上がる。振り返れば金面山の右に、やって来た峰々が重なって遠くに見える。

孟宗竹林を進む
石厝坑山山頂
小休憩のあと、先ほどの分岐へ戻り石厝坑山へ向かう。数分下っていくと土の産業道路を越える。そこから数分登り返す。15時33分、石厝坑山(標高573m)に着く。麓までまだ距離がある。ここから方向を南西に換えて進む。この尾根は、白石山と平行しているが、少し下ったあと、小ピークが幾つか現れ高度がなかなか下がらない。木々のあいだより、左にその名前の由来である白石山の白い岩壁が見える。松林を進み16時、小ピークの頂上に設けられたベンチで少し休憩する。16時20分、送電鉄塔の下に着く。近くで左より打鐵寮古道からの道を合わせる。

左に白石山が見える
急坂を下る
夕陽の中打鐵寮古道を下る
右に保線路を下がっていく。数分でヘヤピンカーブのところで左にまた山道を分ける。急坂が続く。16時47分、打鐵寮古道が左から合わさる。ここから先は古道を下る。太陽はだいぶ傾き、黄色い夕方の光線をなげている。16時55分、草嶺山へ続く尾根上の分岐に着く。廃棄された歩哨家屋のわきで少し休む。石の階段が続く急坂を降り切り、小沢を橋で越えると道はゆるやかな坂道となる。15時15分、濟安橋につく。ガサガサッと音がするので見ると、山雉が逃げていく。考えてみれば、今日は五寮尖頂上で登山者、龍山巖で寺の世話をしている人に出会っただけだ。太平橋で沢を越え、登り返して15時24分、登山口に着く。互助橋を出発して約10時間である。

濟安橋につく、残り僅かだ



前回来た時は大溪まで歩いたが、相談してタクシーを呼ぶことにする。登山口にある倉庫のところで、電話番号を尋ねると親切に教えてくれた。日はすでに暮れて、月が空に登っている。18時、タクシーがやってくる。10分足らずの乗車で大溪バスターミナルに到着、18時30分発の9103バスで帰途に着いた。

タクシーがやって来た


この縦走は、ほとんど山道だけで距離は13.2kmである。縦走は、ピークを多く越えていくので、そこそこ時間を要する。秋になり、登山にはよい季節だが、日が短くなっているので日暮れ前に下山できるように、休憩は控えめに歩いた。他の二人は健脚で問題ないが、Gさんも初めての同行であったがよく歩いた。終日天気がよかったのも、とても助かった。道はレベル3~4である。体力要求度はレベル5としておこう。脚に自信がなければ、このルートは勧めない。

2014年10月26日 汐止新山夢湖 慢集團活動で再び歩く Xizhi Mt. Xinshan and Menghu Pond: Manjietuan hiking group acitivity

Group picture by the Menghu pond
先週に引き続き今回も登山グループ慢集団の活動で山を歩いた。今回は、このグループの成立二周年記念で、山を歩いたあと食事を一緒にした。一部筆者が道案内をしたが、今回のガイドは別のメンバーZさんである。山道は、下山部分を除いて約二年前に歩いた時と同じである。登山記録は、繰り返しになる部分が多いので、今回も英語で記述する。地名などについての扱いは、前回と同様である。

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Round walk from Hongnei and back
Walking height profile, a few kilometers on the right is a bus ride
Located in Xizhi (汐止) district of New Taipei City, Mt. Xinshan (新山) at elevation of 499m is nothing special from the Wuzhi (五指山) mountain peaks of slightly higher elevation in its vicinity. If you go up to its summit, however, you will find a spectacular cliff dropping straight down to its valley across Mt. Wuzhi. A tranquil pond called Menghu (夢湖, Dreamy pond)  is surrounded by the Xinshan hillsides, which is another attraction. An important factor that makes this peak popular is that there is a driveway Menghu Road (夢湖路) all the way near to the pond. So all family members, old and young, can drive a car or ride a motorcycle to the end of the road and easily walk up to the pond. The pond is, in fact, one of popular places where couples to marry soon come and take pictures for their wedding.

Walk along the Bei 29 road, Mountain ahead is Mt. Xinshan
I visited this place two years ago. After I went up to the summit then, I took Wuzhi old trail down to Hongnei (烘內) where I started in the morning. The visit this time has a special significance. The Manjituan (慢集團 slow-but-steady-going) hiking club organized this activity to commemorate its second anniversary. Nearly a hundred members took part. After the activity ended, thirty or so of the members had a dinner together near Xizhi train station. The weather was very nice and we had a fun.

Going up a steep uphill of Baoxianlu
Members meet at the bus stop across the Xizhi train station by 8:00. By the time our bus #896 shows up at 8:15, a crowd of people gather on the narrow pedestrian walkway and some of them are even standing on the driveway. The passengers are almost all our people and a single bus cannot carry all the members. A another bus of #890 comes a few minutes later and the rest of members unable to take the first ride come to our destination Hongnei on that bus. Around 8:40 the whole group start moving and walk along the Bei (北 meaning North)  29 route to the trail entrance. Today's guide of the troop is Mr. Zheng. The original plan was to walk up the Menghu road but it was later changed to a dirt trail of Baoxianlu (保線路, footpaths for high-voltage transmission tower maintenance). I once walked on this trail and I lead the troop for this section today.

going by the third tower
As we walk along the Bei 29 road, we can see Mt. Xinshan far ahead of us. The Menghu road diverges to right and we stay on the Bei 29. A few more minutes we come to the Baoxianlu entrance. We wait for the rest of members catching up and at 8:55 start walking the dirt trail. The weather is very good today and it is getting hot. The trail goes almost all way under trees and is better than the paved Menghu road where there is little shade. The Baoxianlu is maintained by the power company and it is wide and pretty good. We go up to the first tower by 9:20 and the trail goes down a little bit. It continues along the hillside for twenty minute or so. A new footpath merges from the left side. This must be a new route as I remember there is no such footpath two years ago.

Menghu pond viewed from the footpath to the summit
steep climb continues
A rather steep incline starts and we come to the second tower. A climb continues for another fifteen minutes and we reach the third tower. If you look back, you can see the two towers that we have come by are down there through the cut-out of the trees. It is 10:10 and we have come almost 3/4 of the Baoxianlu. When the rest of the member catches up, we go on gentle incline and a little minutes past 10:30 we arrive at the Menghu pond. Water in the pond today does not look so beautiful as I remember. It may be because the water volume is not that much. There are more than twenty members are waiting there for us. The total count swells to nearly 100!

a view of Mt. Wuzhi from the cliff
There are two footpaths going up to the summit from the Menghu pond. One on the left is a steep incline, and one on the right is a moderate climb. My role of a leader of the troop ends here. Mr. Zheng takes charge and now I walk just in the middle of the troop. We go up the left-side steep path. About a fifteen-minute climb brings us to a point where the pond can be seen far below. The water reflects the trees around but it looks not so clear today. For another fifteen minutes we reach the ridge of the mountain. The other side of the ridge is a deep cliff. You can have a very nice and wide view if you stand on the edge of the cliff. The last time when I visited, the weather was also fine but the visibility was not as great as today. I can make out the triangle-shaped Mt. Jilong (基隆山) near the ocean in far distance.

A view from the summit, looking east
junction to the pond (right) and the east-end ridge(left)
More members are coming up and taking pictures at the edge of cliff. A young friend and I follow the ridge path and slowly ascend to the summit. 11:35 we reach the summit. There is a stone sign placed in the rock. There are many hikers around the narrow summit rocks enjoy wonderful view. If you come by car near to the pond, it is an easy hike up here. Three hours is well enough to walk up to the summit and down back to the pond. We keep on the ridge path and start downhill. We go down for about 15 minutes and come to a junction. If you go left, you can go to Mt. Wuzhi, which I followed two years ago. We go on right to continue a way back to the pond. Another couple of minutes we come to another junction. The left path is to go on the east end ridge of the mountain and the right one directly goes down to the pond. We take left and go a little more of the ridge path.

Looking back the summit on the way down
A view from the cliff top of the east-end ridge
standing on the cliff top
As we go down, we pass by more open rock cliffs. We climb to an edge of some rock cliffs and enjoy changing scenery. Now the summit is above up there and a few of our members are waving for us. We wave back to them. At 12:21 we come down to another Baoxianlu path, which goes further on the ridge. We take right here and goes down to the pond. In a couple of minutes we come to another junction, which we take right to a trail to the pond, then take left at another junction to the pond. At half past twelve we arrive at the open-side shelter at the end of Menghu road. Some of the members are already there resting. This is a place we have lunch.

members are cooking food






This is a second anniversary activity and we cook a few different dishes on site. Some members came here by car and carried the food for the club. They set up stoves and cook hot food. By the time the food is ready, all members are back and we have a lunch together. Some members share wine and spirits, which I take a few cups myself. It is really a fun to have lunch together on such memorable occasion. There are no such shared food on regular Manjituan activities, but today is different.

Walking down the Menghu road
Almost three hours of lunch is over and we start a way down on the Menghu road at 15:25. The weather turns hazy and it is not so hot to walk down the paved road. There are many parked cars on the road side, showing that there are many hikers and visitors are still up in the mountain. At 16:10 we come back to the junction on the Bei 29, where we passed in the morning. Some of the members are already at a bus stop by the junction waiting for #F910, a small free community bus. A few of us decide to go on the Bei 29 to Hongnei to take #896 bus. We arrive at Honghei at 16:18 and only a few minutes later a bus has come. We all jump on it and head for Xizhi station, where members gather for a dinner at a restaurant near the station.

Three cats are patiently waiting for a fish, a scene captured from the Menghu road
We walked total 9 km including the Menghu paved driveway. Mt. Xinshan and Menghu pond is a good place to visit and requires no heavy preparation and equipment. If you go by car or motorcycle to the pond, the round trip to the summit requires only three hours at most. Even dirt footpaths are very good, which takes another hour and a half for the way up. It is recommendable to all hikers

2014-10-20

2014年10月18日 陽明山系小觀音山 - 茄苳坑採金古道 Mt. Xiaoguanyin - QiedongKeng gold mine old footpath

On the Qiedongkeng old trail, the No.1 gold mine opens its entrance on the left. A waterfall is visible in the distance.
Hikers of several nationalities at the summit of Mt. Caitoulun 
今回は、登山グループ慢集團を今年八月に歩いた小觀音山から茄苳坑古道に下る道に案内した。ルートは、前半先に小觀音山の西峰に登った部分が異なるが、その他は同じである。登山記録としては、ほぼ同じ内容の繰り返しになるので、今回は英語で記述する。参加者は54名あったが、そのうち数名は外国籍メンバーであった。筆者も台湾では外国籍ではあるが。外国人の台湾山岳登山も増えているようだ。

英語での記述の場合、問題は地名や山名をどのように表すかだ。日本語では漢字をそのまま記述できるが、英語ではそうは行かない。初めての試みなので、中国語の音を拼音(ピンイン)で表し初回の表示は、中国語を併記することにする。

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Start from the south and go all the way to mountain foot of Beixinzhuang
Yangmingshan (陽明山) mountain range is pretty close to the metropolitan Taipei. The most of its area is designated as a National Park. It can be called a kind of backyard of the busy city and quite a few citizens as well as visitors love to go there for hiking or recreation. The national park maintains series of good hiking trails over the entire range. These trails are paved with stone tiles and signs are installed at all important junctions. Majority of casual hikers only follow these trails. If you go along these trails, you can find some small dirt footpaths leading into bushes or woods. These footpaths quite often can take you to places that the official trails cannot.

mainly downhill walk
The national park area is actually a part of the habitat of local people and they have roamed there for generations. As they walked in woods or bushes, footpaths were formed. After car roads were built and the people drive cars, the ancient footpaths were abandoned and left for decay. Recent enthusiasm of hiking has brought a new twist to these ancient trails. Experienced hikers love to follow the old footpaths as they can enjoy more beautiful sceneries and less disturbed natural environments. Some of them are willing to cut out grasses or add signs along old paths for the benefit of other hikers. The course that we followed in this activity is exactly what these footpaths made possible.

At car park, Mt. Xiaoguanyin is just in front, a path leads from the edge
Mt. Xiaoguanyin(小觀音山) is a series of peaks in row formed by volcanic eruption millions years ago, and located next to Mt. Qixing(七星山), the highest peak in the park and Mt. Datun(大屯山), the second highest. You can easily identify Mt. Xiaoguanin as it has many antenna towers and communication / radar facilities over its top. It has a driveway nearly up to the main peak as the communication facilities there need regular maintenance. But the rest of the peaks were almost out of reach because thick bamboo bushes prevented easy access. In the recent months volunteers came in and literally cut bamboo and grasses and made out footpaths. I once met one of the volunteers, Jixiang(吉祥哥) who contributed a lot to this, just cutting bamboos with a pair of hand scissors. The other volunteers worth big credit is a team of Lantian(藍天隊, blue sky), and they opened new paths up to the west peak of Mt. Xiaoguanyin two months ago. We went up to the west peak through this new path.

A view from the slope of the west peak, the car park is visible at the foot of Mt. Datun
The activity is hosted by Manjiduan(慢集團, a group of slow-but-steady-paced hikers). This is also a group of volunteers and they organize hiking activities almost every weekend. I am myself a member of this group and take participants to various locations as a guide.The activities are open to all members and announced through its Fasebook event page. The activity this time requires no charge of money. The participants of course have to take care of transportation, food and equipment. We had 54 of them for this time.

at the ruin of Mountain Lodge
Most of the participants meet at MRT Jiantan station (捷運劍潭站) at 7:00 and take a R15 bus (紅15)  up to Yangmingshan bus terminal (陽明山總站). We then take another bus No. 108 to Anbu (鞍部) bus stop. Some of the members were already there waiting for us. The 108 is a small bus and we wait a few more minutes for the rest of members unable to take the same ride. When all members are there, then we walk to the nearby car park. I make a brief explanation about the course and Mr Wang (王老師) leads a warm-up exercise.

Imitation money along the path
At 8:40 we start walking and go down a small dirt footpath leading from an edge of the car park area. The West peak of Mt. Xiaoguanin is just up there as if waiting for us to come. The path goes gently upwards and a few minutes walk brings us to the ruin of Shanzhijia (山之家, mountain lodge). Now it only remains a stone chimney. This house was built in the 1930's under the Japanese colonial government of the time. It designated the area, which includes a big part of the current Yanmingshan National Park, as a first national park in the island. The house was built for visitors to the park. After the defeat of Japan in the war several decades ago the whole house was left for dilapidation and turned out to be the current sad situation. We take a group picture there.

slippery slope in bamboo bushes
From the ruin two paths diverge. The left path is a traditional route that leads to another path going up on the west ridge of the 1056 peak, westernmost peak of Mt. Xiaoguanyin, while the right one is a newly opened direct route to the west peak. We take right and walk on the new path. After a short while, the path increase its incline and we keep ascending. A another path merges from the right side, which comes from the drive way to the mountain top where the antenna facilities are located. A bundle of imitation money for the next world (冥錢) is placed here and there along the path. This path is originally used for farmers who collect bamboo shoots. I suppose that they leave the imitation money for the mountain deities as payment.

A view from the west peak, peaks of Mt. Xiaoguanyin are just across the valley
Around 9:10 we go into the bamboo bushes which is far taller than a man. The path is very steep and slippery as there was rain fall last night. Bamboo cut edges are pretty sharp and you have to pay close attention not to stamp on them. Climb in the bush lasts about 20 minutes and the right side is cleared. The view of Mt. Datun comes in sight. The car park is right down there. We have come up a lot! Another 10 or so minutes climb in the bush bring us to a wide path over the main ridge of Mt. Xiaoguanin. Turn left and a two minutes we come to the west peak top (elevation 1043m). It took about one hour from the start, which is pretty good for the size of this team.

Paved driveway in thick mist, a dirt trail starts at the bottom of the tower
I start for the next peak before the rest of the members come up. The peak top is not big enough to accommodate such a big group like today.  The footpath over the main ridge is very wide and well maintained. I walked this place last year for the first time. It was then narrower and covered more with bushes. Obviously this place has became very popular and more hikers visit lately. I wait for the last part of the troop catching up and continue the path. Going over a small unnamed peak and going down. Into cedar woods we go and turn left to the drive way. When all the members come out onto the paved driveway, up we go along the road.

Looking back for the north peak, fog is just cleared a shot while
The weather turns foggy and all scenery is now in thick mist. Mt. Qixing is just across a valley but unfortunately is not visible. We walk up to an entrance of the radar facility just at the end of the road. We then take a small dirt footpath opening at the bottom of a concrete tower beside the road. This is a path to the main peak of Mt. Xiaoguanyin. Through cedar woods we come out into bamboo bushes. This wide path is a result of volunteer Jixiang's hard work. It goes along the slope under the military radar facility. After a short climb up to the ridge and we comes the far side of the facility wall. Turn right and arrives the top of Mt. Xiaoguanyin main peak (elevation 1070m). If the weather is good, you can have a very wide view there, but today everything is in mist. It is 10:40. We are making good progress.

A view from the point just below Mt. Caitoulun, the peak is Mt. Ganweilun
Slippery downhill between bamboos
From the main peak we walk along the ridge path, going down and up again to the north peak, which has no marking but it is easily to recognize as there is no other higher hump on the ridge. At a few meters ahead of it, a steep downhill pathway goes down on the left side to Datunxi(大屯溪) creek. We keep on the wide ridge footpath, which goes between tall bamboo bushes.The trail is super because the volunteer has cut each bamboo stem one by one, which I suppose took him many days to complete. We really appreciate his contribution. We come to another intersection where a path from Mt. Ganweilun (竿尾崙) merges. We see another peak ahead of us and a few hikers are waving for us. We go up to the peak, Mt. Caitoulun (菜頭崙, elevation 1039m) and find that they are four of our participants, who has come up via Mt. Ganweihun and waited for us. We have a long lunch break there, as there is no large area in the next half of the activity for such a large group to rest together. It is rather pity that we cannot have a good views of surrounding peaks and valleys just until we leave the peak when a whole west side is cleared up momentarily.

Steep descent continues
At 12:00 after a half hour of rest we start descending a path between bamboo bushes to Jiedongkeng (茄苳坑溪) creek. The path is very steep and slippery. A few minutes decent bring us to a point where there are huge rocks and no bamboo bushes. Mist is temporarily cleared and the wide area of mountain foot is visible. A tall memorial tower of Yuanshanding (圓山頂) is discernible at a faraway hilltop on the slope down there. Another half hour of decent is necessary to get out of the bamboo bushes, by then we have come down 150 meters in elevation. A path from the right side merges in woods, which is another old trail, Wujiaosong (五腳松古道).  Down we go very steep incline where ropes are affixed to help hikers go down. Around 12:50 we finally come to a point where this steep downhill ends. I wait for the rest of the troop to catch up as as such a large group would take time to come down.

waiting for the rest members coming down
Along the hillside we go a gradually descending path to an abandoned gold mine. Back in 1930s the colonial government tried to find gold in this area as it belongs to the same volcanic geology structure as the famous Jinguashi  (金瓜石) and Jiufen (九份), which produced the largest volume of gold in Asia at that time. They came deep into the valley and dag five mines in total. The gold seeking project failed at last as they did not find gold and the miners left. The whole project was put aside as a page in a history book. The defeat of Japan in the World War II closed its fate. No one cared for this matter and a few decades passed unnoticed until 10 or so years ago a group of adventures came in this valley and discovered the historic sites.

Crossing the Qiedongkeng Creek
Qiedongkeng old trail goes along the valley
The gold mine in front of me is the fifth hole and at the highest location of them. It opens its mouth besides the path and water is pouring out from inside. The stream bed is in yellowish color and suggests presence of minerals. After a moment of picture taking, we continue the path to another junction where Qiedongkeng old trail diverges to its right. The path to left is Yuanliu (圓柳古道) old trail, which goes alongside the slope of Mt. Ganweilun. We go down to a stream of Qiedongkeng and crossed water. We then crossed it several times from right to left of the stream and back again as we go down.

Abandoned old pool for dye making
Stone monument of 1938
At 13:35 we come across an abandoned empty pool for making indigo blue dye. Natural blue color dye was produced from flowers of Indian Sesbania which is pretty common in mountain valleys of Taiwan. Blue dye was once one of important products for export besides tea leaves until cheap chemical dye took over it. You can see same kind of abandoned pools at various locations in mountains.We continue a path along the stream and come down to the mine hole No. 3 and 4. Their entrance is located at either side of the stream. Another few more minutes we come to a wide open area. The mine hole No.2 opens its entrance close to the area. Just beside it stands a small stone monument which reads "Protecting God of Taiwan Mountains" and a date inscribed on its side reads December 1938. That was the high time when Japan put more energy in war effort and badly needed funds as preparation of war.

Platform is visible with piled up stones
I wait for all members to come down to the flat place, which is actually platform built onto the steep valley wall. Countless stones were piled up by hand to make this platform. It must have been a huge construction project. At a side of the platform a stone stage is erected. On the top of it stands a round stone with an inscription "Tomb of Spirits". It is considered a grave of unknown solders who fought with Japanese troops in 1890s right after Japanese acquisition of Taiwan. They probably died unattended in the valley and nobody took care of them. When the gold hunters came in a couple decades later and found bones, they buried the remains and erected this monumental stone. There was supposedly a supporting facility for mining activities on the platform back then. All members arrive and have rest, then I explain to them the past history along this old trail.

going further down along the stream
Crossing the stream just in front of a small water fall
A tall waterfall of a branch strream
At 14:10 we resume walk down the trail. It goes down along a tall water fall and passes a mine hole No. 1 just across the stream.  This section is a highlight of the trail as there are four mine holes and two water falls located closely together. If you look back up the valley you will notice that the platform walls are made of many stones of different shapes and size. As we go further down the trail and cross a stream just in front of a water fall. The trail then goes higher up above the stream and passes over a branch stream. Water flows over to a very tall waterfall and plunges way down into the deep valley. As we continue the trail, water pipes show up and go along the trail. A narrow footpath diverges and goes straight. This one leads to Yuanliu old trail. We make right turn to follow the original trail. After crossing the stream again, the trail entrance is no more far away. When we reach an open area where a stone house ruin remains and take a final rest.

A wide open area with a stone house ruin of huge size
We finally come to the trail entrance on Jingshan (青山街) Street at 15:35. Walk on a dirt footpath is now over. What is left is walk to a bus stop of Yuanshanding. We walk up along the driveway and go down to the bus stop where the memorial tower stands nearby. Bus service here is very scarce and there are only a few trips a day. A next bus is supposed to come around 17:00. Some members check their smartphones for the bus schedule. They find that there will be no bus service until around 17:30. So we decide to walk another two kilometers to Beixinzhuang (北新莊) where there is more frequent service. We arrive there around 17:30 and soon comes a No. 807 bus.

Group picture at the trail entrance
The activity of group with this size takes much more time than a group of a few members. When I walked the almost identical route with just two friends, it took only six hours and a half while it took nearly nine hours this time. The activity members are all physically fit and no one claimed any fatigue during the hike. This is simply because you have to wait for many members passing difficult sections and this adds up to more time. This course goes along interesting historic sites and good vantage points though you have to take close attention for trail junctions and steep downhills. I recommend it to those hikers with experiences, but not casual hikers. The rating of the course itself is level 3 (of the maximum 5) and physical is also level 3. Visit in February may be the best time as you can enjoy cherry blossoms along the Jingshan Street.