2015年4月19日 慢集團@七星山訓練山行 Training hike from the foot to the summit of Mt. Qixingshan

Mt. Qixingshan viewed from Qianyuan Park


We climbed from Tianmu all the way to the summit of Mt. Qixingshan
Hiking elevation profile
At the Tianmu historical trail head
Mt. Qixingshan (七星山) is a center of all Yanmingshan National Park (陽明山國家公園). At an elevation of 1,120m it marks the highest peak of all in the area, which is also the highest point in the boundary of Taipei City. It attracts many hikers throughout a year. Manjituan group (慢集團) will have a three-day trekking event in this coming summer which requires a good physical fitness. In order to measure how good the current fitness level of each participant is and to train their physical strength, we had a long hill climb activity in Yangmingshan: We started at the foot of the mountain, Tianmu (天母) and climbed to the top of Mt. Qixinghan all on our foot. This means ascending a little more than 1,000m in height. It is in fact a couple hundred meters short of the height that we will have to cover this summer, but we set a target of 4 hours and half to reach the summit. All members but one passed this strenuous test. After we reached the summit, we took an unofficial trail down to Yanmingshan bus terminal and completed the hike.

Acacia tree is high up over the trail
At 8:00 we meet at MRT Shipai Station (石牌站) and take a bus to Tianmu bus stop on Zhongshan North Road section 7 (中山北路七段). After waiting for a few more members coming directly to Tianmu bus stop, we start for Tianmu historical trail (天母古道) a little past 8:30. We go up the street and come to the trail head which is marked with a big water tank with a faucet. There is a water pipeline along the trail which belongs to one of the oldest water supply system of Taipei built many decades ago. So is the reason of why such monument stands besides the trail head. We start a long uphill at 8:45. Unlike usual hikes of Manjituan, we have only several members today because this hike is primarily for the participants of the summer hike.

Stone steps and the black water pipe on its left
Mt. Datunshan across the valley
The steep stone steps look as if endless. Tiny yellow blossoms are sprinkled on and besides the steps. Looking up and we find a big Taiwan acacia tree is full of yellow blossoms hanging way up over the steps. As we keep ascending we see a big black water pipe goes parallel on the left side of the trail. The straight uphill lasts about a half hour and we come to a pavilion at 9:10. We have a first rest here. A thermometer on the pavilion pillar shows 25 degree C. No wonder we are all in big sweat already. The elevation is 300 meters above sea level and we have covered something like 250 m in height. Another member joins us here as she has climbed very fast from the trail head because she came a little late.

Flat section of Tianmu trail
The grade of trail becomes much moderate from here on. There is no step to climb. It turns to be a graveled wide road that goes along the side of a hill. As we go along the flat trail we can see Mt. Datunshan (大屯山) across the valley between trees. There are sign boards besides the trail saying "Be aware of macaques' attack". There are supposedly many wild monkeys around the trail and they steal your things away or snatch your food. We see none this time. In fifteen minutes the easy trail ends and up we go stone steps again. We reach the top of steps at 9:40 and this is the end of Tianmu historical trail. If we go right we can reach Yangjin highway (陽金公路) and Chinese Culture University (中國文化大學). We take left and go down to the valley. At the bottom of the valley, we take a right path that goes along the stream. The river bed is in reddish color because the water contains high level of minerals. We climb back to Shamao Road (紗帽路) and take right to Qianshan Park (前山公園) where we have a short break. The altitude is approximately 400 meters now. It is 10:15 and we have walked for a hour and a half. Mt. Qixingshan is visible just across the park. We have 700 meters more to reach its summit.

Walk along the red colored stream
Yangmingshan pedestrian trail head
Visitor center, at its behind is Mt. Qixingshan
At Miaopu trail head
A couple of friends join us as they have waited for us at the park. We go further along Shamao road and come to Yangmingshan bus terminus. We pass it and go to the trail head of the pedestrian trail (人車分道) that goes around at the foot of Mt. Qixingshan. We first go into a tunnel and up a long steps, then come out to a stone paved trail. The pedestrian trail is go parallel to the Yangjin highway, sometime close by sometime in some distance. It is good that we don't have to inhale exhaust fume. We pass by Yangmingshan visitor center at 10:54 and come to the Miaopu trail head (苗圃登山步道) at 11:05. We are now at 550 m high and have come a half way in terms of altitude.

Long stone step climb of Miaopu trail
Squirrels don't afraid of man 
The Miaopu trail is also a stone paved footpath. It is a kind of dull climb as you only go up step by step. However boring it is, you surely gain altitude in this way. At 11:50 we reach a junction where the right trail leads to Lengshuikeng (冷水坑). We take a left trail and climb further. In a few minutes another junction comes up. If you take the right trail you can reach Qixing Park (七星公園). The left trail that we take is the one going straight up to the summit. In a matter of a minutes or two, the trail gets really steep. This is the most laborious part of our hike today. The steeper it gets, the more altitude you get in a given length of walk. In twenty minutes of hard climbe we come to a point where we have a nice view. At 12:30 we get out of trees and bushes and walk between tall arrow bamboos, which characterize vegetation of this area. We can see the main peak of Mt. Qixingshan now. It is only a couple hundred meters away. At 12:40 we reach the summit. The summit is full of hikers. The sky is cloudy now but all neighboring peaks are visible. We have walked for approximately four hours and covered 1,000 meters in altitude and 8 kilometers in distance. We deserve a long and good rest.

Steep climb lasts for a half hour
The summit is only a few hundred meters away
We made it (a picture by Mt. Wang)
The entrance is closed by the authority
At 13:15 we start going down. I did not set which way we go down the mountain at the time of planing and would choose a way after reaching the summit. I have made up my mind that we first take a route to Xiaoyoukeng (小油坑). We descend a steep stone trail for several minutes. We pass by an entrance to Kaidagulang ruin (凱達格蘭遺址) but it is now closed by the park authority. Probably too many hikers have gone there and the authority no longer can neglect it. We go further down the trail and come close to a observation deck at 13:26. There is an unofficial dirt trail going down at the point near to the observation deck. The members today are all in good shape so I decide to take this route down. We jump in a rat hole between tall arrow bamboos.

Footpath between tall bamboos

The trail is unexpectedly in good shape. Bamboos are taller than man but neatly cut and the path is very clear. We get out of bamboos in ten minutes and come to a top of a very steep slope. Thank god, aiding ropes are fixed. We reach the bottom of the steep slope for another ten minutes and come to a junction. If you go left, you can either reach the summit of Mt. Qixingshan South peak or the steep part of Miaopu trail. We go further down the hill and reach Jinlutiangong temple (金露天宮) at 13:57. You can have a good view from there, Danshui River (淡水河) and its basin flat land like Shezidao (社子島). Mt. Guanyinshan (觀音山) shows its part across the river. We have a last rest.

Descends a steep slope
View from Jinlutiangong temple
We are back to Miaopu trail
We take another dirt footpath going along the mountain side. The footpath graduarlly descents and connects to the Miaopu trail. We come onto the side of the Miaopu trail at 14:23. We then take right and go down the trail that we climbed on our way to the summit this morning. At 15:08 we reach Yangmingshan bus terminus. Before going down by bus, all of us went to a small eating place near Qianshan park and had a light meal with beer!

We are back at Miaopu trail head
The first training hike was successful. I believe that everyone gained confidence in their physical strength. The activity time totaled 6 hours 40 minutes including rest. The distance we walked was 12.4 kilometers. The trails are very good and can be rated level 1 except those unofficial footpath we took on our way down. The physical stamina to go from Tianmu all the way to the summit of Mt. Qixingshan is rated level 3. If you want to train yourself before any expedition, this route from Tianmu to Qixingshan is good for the purpose.

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