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2015-10-12

2015年10月11日 石碇筆架山-二格山-木柵三玄宮山縱走 體力訓練山行 Strenuous hiking over Mt. Bijiashan and Mt. Ergeshan

Group picture at Mt. Ergeshan
九月下旬の花蓮清水大山は、十数時間の行動時間できつい山行であった。これから、また十時間レベルの山行が控えている。年齢を重ねるにつれ、体力が衰えるのは自然の摂理だが、まだ登りたい山はたくさんある。健康を保ち体力を維持していくことが、そうした山を登っていくための前提条件だ。一週間後にまた、二日連続の山行を控え、今回の訓練山行を行った。他に数名の同行者が一緒に登った。彼らは脚力が強く、天候が良くないこともあって、昼食に時間を多くとった後は、坐ることもない短時間の休憩で九時間半で歩き終えた。

今回のルートは、新北市の石碇から筆架連山を縦走、さらにそれに連なる二格山から三玄宮山を引き続き縦走、そして台北市木柵へ下るというものである。標高は500m~600mクラスであるが、稜線上には結構上り下りがあり、それなりに体力を消耗する。一般的には、それぞれ別に歩くことが多い。筆者も、以前筆架連山二格山~三玄宮山とは、別々に縦走している。今回は、その二つを合わせた山行である。今回のメンバーには、外国人メンバー(自分もそうだが)もいるので、以前にも同じルート記録はすでに日本語であるので、英語で記述する。

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Hike from Shiding (east) all the way to Muzha
Highest point is Mt. Ergeshan
A replica of a miner and a wagon over the river
Mt. Bijiashan (筆架山) is located not far from Taipei and known for its rock ridge routes. Bijia means a small stationery piece on a desktop to hold a brush with two higher edges and a depressed center. This peak resembles a Bijia looked from a distance and stands almost at the center of its mountain range. The trail is well hiked and under a reasonable maintenance. Next to the Bijia mountain range stands Mr. Ergeshan (二格山). This is an east-most peak in the range of peaks extending west to Muzha (木柵) district of Taipei City. The east end of the Bijia mountain range is Shiding (石碇), once a cola mining town now a tourist spot of old streets. Hikers usually hike only a Bijia mountain range or Mt. Ergeshan and its adjacent peaks. Each route is a good day hike for five or six hours.

Go on Moruxiang historical trail
In order to hike over higher mountains, you have to have a good basic physical fitness and strength. If your basic strength is not enough, you may well become a burden to other members in your troop and an unhappy hiker yourself. It is necessary to improve your physical or at least keep it is a must for gong for a long expedition to mountains. Hiking is after all is an exercise. I plan to hold high and mid range mountain expeditions in the future and the hike this time is for training members' physical strength. The date this time is perhaps not so convenient and we have only six including myself. The bad weather may also contribute to this, I assume.

Crossing a water streem

We meet at the bus station near MRT Muzha station just before 7:00 a.m. The sky is dark with low clouds and it rained on my way from home. The weather forecast predicted a fine weather a few days before and changed its forecast of likely rain just a day before. Well, autumn sky changes very quickly. Our #666 bus comes at 7:06 and we all get aboard. Almost all seats are taken by seemingly hikers despite bad weather. Approximately twenty minute ride takes us to Shiding where we will start our walk. The roads are all wet, but it does not rain now at least.

Get onto the ridge where another trail from Shiding meets
A bare rock section shows up
We step out our hike at 7:40. We go along a river on our right side and soon cross it over a bridge. A replica of a miner and a wagon is placed on a short rail over the river, which indicates that this place used to be a thriving mining town. A viaduct of the National Highway No. 5 stands very high up over in the sky. We go along the river, pass a house and stay on the trail. In about ten minutes we come to a junction where we turn right to take a dirt trail called Moruxiang (模乳巷古道) historical trail.

A milepost shows the distance to cover
Up we go for 10 minutes on the historical trail and come to another junction where we turn right. As soon as passing a stream of rushing water, we start ascent. The trail is for maintaining high voltage electricity transmission towers up on the mountain and is under good maintenance by the power company. The trail goes up zigzag and 8:24 we see a tower in front of us. This is also a junction. We first take right to go up, and I soon find that we take a wrong turn. We go back and take another path and soon go up to a small hump where another trail from Shiding meets. It is 8:36. We have just spent one hour to come up on the ridge, faster than I originally expected. We are at about 350m in elevation.

A northward view from the ridge, Mt.Wuyueshan is across the valley
Climbing down by a slippery rock face
The trail on the ridge goes up to higher peaks. Soon we come across a bare rock section. A aiding rope is affixed to it. These rock sections are the reason why Mt. Bijianshan range is called one of three rock ridge mountains, other two being Mt. Wuliaojian and Mt. Huangdidian. At 8:55 we see a mile post with 5.2km for the trail end. This shows the distance we need to cover more over the Mt. Bijiashan range. Sky slightly turns light and we now can see surrounding mountains and valleys. At 9:14 we come to a junction where another trail from Moruxiang histrical trail that I took to come up three years ago. We have a short rest here. Across peaks and hills in front, we can make out the 101 building in a far distance. A letter No. 3 on a white plastic board is affixed onto a tree trunk by the trail. This card is for asking a help in case any trouble on the trail. You tell the number and rescuers know where you are. The number starts on the first junction on the ridge and goes up as we go west.

Mt. Ximaozshan summit

The trail goes down steeply and goes up again to Mt. Ximaoziyan (西帽子岩, 440m in altitude) where we reach at 9:30. This trail goes up and down for countless times. We soon come across a big washed out rock wall where dirt and plants once were but peeled off due to too much rain water. We now go on the left side of the ridge and can see Mt. Shigongjiweishan (獅公髻尾山) of Pingling (坪林). We pass by a trail sign showing 2.2km to Mt. Zhizitoushan (炙子頭山) and 3.7km to Mt. Bijiashan. At 9:55 we arrives at the summit of Mt. Zhizitoushan where several wooden benches stand. The benches are all wet and we have a rest standing. While we have a break, rain stats falling and we put a rain jacket on.

A whole piece of soil peeled off from the rock with its vegetation
Ridge trail with its sign post
Some dangerous rock points like this show up on the trail
At Mt. Bijiashan
A rest area with #9 sign and benches
In a few minutes we resume our walk. The distance to Mt. Bijiashan is not that far but there are many ups and downs and some dangerous rock sections. We reach Mt. Bijiashan at 10:50. While we are having a break a single young hiker comes up from the other direction and pass us. He says that it was raining on his way up here too. We have no so good luck today. We may have to walk the rest of hike in rain. The rescue number is already 8 placed at this place. We come to a resting place with two benches and the number 9 sign at 11:25, 0.7km more to the end of trail. We gradually go up again by the side of ridge and finally reach the trail end at 11:48. This is a halfway point and we have covered it for a little more than four hours. This is a pretty good pace.We have some rest.

A van shop
We had lunch under this roof
There are two routes to go up to the summit of Mt. Ergeshan. one is following the ridge in front of us and the other, stone step trail on the mountain side. We take the second one and first go down a little to the trail head. As soon as we start, we see a van is parked by the road. A sign on the van says荒山振農 and the back is open to sell drinks and ice candies. We stop by and everybody buys one kind of drink or another. I once heard that there used be a mobile shop selling mung bean soup on this passage in the past but never came across it. This may be a new one to replace that shop. We then go to the trail end and start a steep incline with high steps. After about 15 minutes of hard climb we get on the ridge and turn left to a shelter. It is 12:27 and we have a long lunch break here. A part of the roof is broken but there are still dry benches to sit on.

At lunch time
A member Adam has a stove and he boils water to make tea for the rest for us. And there is a big can of beer form his wife to share. I originally prepared beer myself but I did not bring because I expect the temperature is low for beer today. Anyway, it proves that even this rainy day, beer is still good! While we are resting, some people including myself has found that leeches sucked blood and dropped off leaving a red spot or still on their leg sucking. I bring out salt and sprinkle on it. The leech drops off and dies with blood bleeding out. Such rainy wet day is really good for them and we need to pay attention to our feet once in a while. After we have a good forty minutes rest and a group picture taken by other hiker we take off to the Mt. Ergeshan summit at 13:08.

Look over the Mt. Bijiashan range where we have just walked through
The trail to Mt. Nanbangliaoshan
In a few minutes we come to the summit. Fortunately we can see the whole Mt. Bijiashan range where we have just come across. The 101 building is barely visible in thick mist. At the height of 678 meters over the sea level this is the highest point in today's hike. We soon start our second portion of the strenuous hiking. We follow the ridge and go down then up again to Mt. Nanbangliaoshan (南邦寮山 592m in altitude) .  We then decent to a junction where a car road meets. A friendly black dog comes close to us. There is a Tudigong shrine and a bunch of people on the other side under a roof and are apparently gambling. It is 14:00 and we have rest by the shrine.

Having a break by a Tudingong shrine
Climbing for Mt. Maokongjian
We start for the next peak Mt. Maokongjian (貓空尖). We first follow a wide car road. When we pass thick grass on the road, the bottom of my pants get soaked wet. At the side of road just blow the telephone signal transmission tower starts a narrow trail going down. We again go up and down a few times and come up to the summit of Mt. Maokongjian (562m in altitude) in thin bamboos at 14:30. Our hike on the mountain ridge is not much left. We go down and up again for a couple times, passing three junctions and at 15:16 reach Mt. Sanxuangongshan (三玄宮山), our final peak today. Light rain that has accompanied us since Mt. Bijiashan is now over. We can have a view over the valley of Maokong (貓空) beneath us and the town of Muzha further down the valley. The 101 building stands over hills beyond Zhinangong temple (指南宮). Everybody checks their feet for leeches and finds one or two, and somebody even more. I myself find four of them and one is still feeding on my left leg!

A view from Mt. Sanxuangong
Going down along the stone step trail
After a half hour rest we start for the final leg of our hike today. It is all way down to Muzha Zhengzhi National University campus. We go down from the shelter of Mt. Sanxuangong and the trail soon turns to be stone steps. The stone steps are maybe hard on your feet, but you can go down faster. The last big typhoon Dujuan (杜鵑) in September left scars on the trail and mud covers at some points. 16:02 we arrive at Maokong gondola station. This is a territory of tourists. The street is full of people as today is the last day of three-day holiday.

Maokong is full of tourists
We keep on the trail down. Now we walk on the trail called Chaye historical trail (茶葉古道), which was supposedly used to carry tea leaves in old days. The trail is covered either by stone steps or paved with concrete. In such wet condition as today, the surface of stone or concrete gets very slippery. At 16:43 we pass by Muzha primary school and keep on our descent on a paved road. In another twenty minutes we come through the university campus and arrives at the main gate, then a bus stop across the gate. This is the end of our strenuous hike. Some members keep walking to a nearest MRT station while the rest of us including myself waits for a bus.

Wet stone steps of the Chaye trail are very slippery
The weather was not good as we all expected but we made it all the way as planed. All members are actually well fit and strong. Even though we had a long rest at lunch and at the top of Mt. Sanxuangongshan, we had very short breaks on the way. We spent nine hours and a half including all rest time to cover 14 kilometers (horizontal distance). The level of difficulty for the route we took is 3 for the trails and 4 for the physical. If you want to train yourself, this may be a good choice.

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