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2015-11-02

2015年10月25日 慢集團@基隆暖暖山谷行 Andante group hiking in the hills and valleys of Jilong NuaNuan district

Group picture at Nuandong Gorge park just before the hike (by Mr. Wang)
基隆市暖暖區の山谷は、台湾で初めての水道ダムや清仏戦争の際の塹壕が稜線に残るなど、台北から身近な場所だが歴史のあるところだ。今年夏頃に、地元のボランティア登山隊が道を整理し、しばらく見捨てられていた山道がすっかり状態が良くなった。不人気山から一挙に、多くの登山者が登るようになった。筆者も二年前にこの地の消墾嶺古道を歩いた時、踏跡もはっきりしない状態で難儀した。そんなことがウソのように、道が良くなっている。道は人が歩いてはじめて道である。

今回は、そうした歴史遺跡をめぐることも含めた山歩きで、慢集団のメンバーを案内した。山歩きは、それだけで楽しいものだが、それに加えその場の歴史などを知ることは、更に楽しみをます。日本とのつながりもある歴史は、自分にとっても身近に感じる。今回は、以前歩いたルートの一部を繋いで歩いた。日本語記事はすでにあるので、今回は英語で記述する。

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Start from right side
Elevation profile
Going through the Nuandong Gorge Park
NuanNuan district (暖暖區) of Jilong City (基隆市) is not far from Taipei and has grown to be a home town of commuters to Taipei. To may people, it may be just a place to pass by, not the destination, to further points of interests like Pingxi (平溪) or even Shuanxi (雙溪) and Fulong (福隆), just like one of the members in this hike put it. Yet this place is full of its own history that is closely related to past Japan's rule over Taiwan. Neglected for some years the trails in the hills and valleys of this area were covered with thick grasses and bushes and very few hikers walked. In the recent months volunteers came in and cleared the trails. This activity seems to be associated with the promotion of the district government office for local tourism. Xiaokenling historical trail (消墾嶺古道) that we took as a way to go up was indeed a very small footpath with hardly recognizable traces at some points just two years ago. Now it is walked over by many hikers and it is very clear. Trails can remain trails only while people walk over them.

Slant water fall
The site of house ruin
The route that we took is to start from Nuandong gorge (暖東峽谷), go up to the passover on the  ridge via Xiaokenling historical trail then turn to follow the ridge to Mt. Dongshidalun (東勢大崙). We further followed the ridge to Mt. Guanyinhushan (觀音湖山) and descended to Xishi reservoir (西勢水庫) which is the first reservoir ever built in Taiwan. We concluded our hike at Shuiyuandi (水源地), meaning a originating place of water supply. We had 27 hikers including myself. The troop was not that big like my past hikes of Andante group and we proceeded very steadily.

A junction with grasses cut out clean






We have reached the trail head, Nunadong gorge by #603 bus of Jilong city, to which we first took #1062 bus from Taipei to connect. Some members drove their own cars. By 8:50 all members are ready and we start our hike after my brief introduction of the activity. We pass by recently renewed bridges and trails of the Nuangdong gorge park area. This renovation must be one of the promotion work of the municipal office. Water in the river is plentiful and flowing rapidly. Rain fall in the past few days have surely contribute to this volume of water.

Crossing the stream
Tudinggong shrine on the hump
We walk on the right side of the river (right or left of a river is designated by looking it from the upstream) and gradually go up. At 8:59 we come up to a spot of interest, a slant waterfall (滑瀑). We step down to the side of the trail to watch water is splashing down on the rock bed. We resume our hike and follow the trail. A marker is placed by the trail to show how far we have walked at every hundred meters! It is actually too small an interval for such a purpose. We pass the end of good renovated trail and go into the primitive and more original section of the historical trail. At 9:22 we arrive at a ruin of stone house. This is one of three main factors that we see on a historical trail. Most historical trails have ruins of stone house, stone walls that prove local people ever lived there, associated with Tudigong (土地公) stone shrine and stone steps placed on the trail.We have a short rest in front of the ruin.

Crossing a small creek
We keep on the trail for two or three minutes and come to a junction. The right one goes up to the ridge just next to Mt. Dongshidalun, which we are supposed to pass later. To my surprise the area is clearly cut out of grasses, which was not that clean just a month ago. I assume that Lantian troop (藍天隊) who came in last month did this clean-up job. We take left and go along the river beneath our right. At 9:40 we come down to the water stream and cross it. The volume of water is definitely much more than my last visit. All members but me have rain boots on and they don't care increased water as they can just step in the water. It give me a hard time but I pass it with my feet dry. We does it one after another and leave the river behind.

Stone wall besides the trail
We continue our hike on the right side of the river and pass a Tudigong shrine. The grasses which surrounded the shrine has been cut clear and it looks different. We cross the river again and get onto a gradual hillside. There seems to have been rice terraces on our both sides in the past as I notice stone walls to hold the soil. Now trees have grown tall and it does not look like any rice terrace, though. After crossing another small creek, we go up for a while and get to a flat area where several terraces remain. This place is called Shuangxikou (雙溪口). It is 10:10 and we have a short rest here.

Shuangxikou
Trail on the ridge
Shuangxikou, meaning a joint where two rivers meet, is suitable for living as water source is just nearby and the moderately inclined hillside yields place for living and cultivation. Of course the life up here was supposedly hard but the size of area shows that this used be a village of some size. We cross the stream and move on for a couple minutes a flat land which seems to have been a rice terrace in the past and start ascend. We reach the overpass of the trail at 10:30. This is a four-way crossroad where we take right to go up the ridge. There are several small peaks with no name on the ridge and we pass over them one by one. At 10:50 we have a short rest.

The junction just below Mt. Dongshidalun
Cool breeze blows through woods and it feels good. It is cloudy today but we are hot after climbing. We continue on the ridge route and come down to another passover junction. We see a trail coming up from our right. This is one that diverges from Xiaokenling historical trail which we passed by this morning. There is another trail going down on the other side which leads to Xishikeng historical trail (西勢坑古道) at the bottom of the valley, which was cleaned out recently too. We start another climb to the top of Mt. Dongshidalun. It is pretty steep and some places are very slippery. We reach the top of Mt. Dognshidalun (455m elevation) at 11:32. We have a long lunch break.

Group picture at Mt. Dongshidarun (by Mr. Wang)
Mr. Dongshikengshan
At 12:17 we start our downhill. The trail on the other side of Mt. Dongshidalun is much moderate. We pass by Mt. Dongshikengshan (東勢坑山, elevation 305m). Though it is called a mountain, it is not a peak but just a place with a marker stone. We see a ditch stretching along the ridge. This is actually a trench dug as a preparation of fight with French troops during Sino-French war in the late 19th century. The French occupied Jilong (基隆) in 1884. Local people were afraid of advance of the French troops and prepared for fight, like building canons on the top of hills, digging trenches like one before us. Because the French retreated after a flight near Danshui (淡水) and an epidemic defeated them, these tranches had supposedly never been used for actual fight.

Looking over Mt. Guanyihushan
Climbing over the rock before Mt. Guanyinhu
The trench stretches up and down along the ridge. Our trail sometime goes on a edge of the trench sometime inside the trench. After passing small peaks we come to a steep downhill. From the top of it, we can see Jilong and Jilongyu island (基隆嶼). No wonder they choose this place for the trenches. We go down and climb back, passing a big rock and soon arrive at the top of Mt. Guanyinhushan (觀音湖山, 302m elevation). This is the final peak of today's hike. After all members come up and have a short rest, we start a very steep descent. On the top of steep incline, the surface of the trail is wet and slippery. We struggle for about half an hour and reach the bottom of the decent and meet another trail coming from our right. We turn left and come to a side of Xishixi river (西勢溪). The volume of water is plentiful here too and it flows almost all width of the river. It is a little dangerous to cross the stream of this width and depth but luckily it is not rapid. We take out ropes that we prepared for this. I advance into the water with my boots off and the end of the rope.. The water is cool but it is OK. After I cross the river, the members cross along the rope. Most of them take of their rain boots off because the water is too deep even for them.

Crossing the wide Xishikeng river
It took twenty minutes or so for all members to cross the river safely. We put back boots on and resume our walk. We now go on a flat trail alongside the reservoir. In a few minutes we come to a small dam and we walk over it. Further we go down the trail more site of the reservoir is visible. I look back and the mountain ridge and peaks where we just hiked stand behind the reservoir water. At 15:13 we come to a memorial statute that commemorates the completion of the reservoir in 1926. The Xishi reservoir or Guanyinhu lake (觀音湖) was constructed during the Japanese rule as the first reservoir in Taiwan. It supplied water to Jiling including ocean liners visiting the port of Jilong. It still supplies water today as a supplementary one to the newly constructed and much bigger Xinshan reservoir (新山水庫).

Xishi reservoir and Mt. Guanyinhushan
Looking back the ridge where we have come from
Myself in front of Xishi dam
Now we are on a paved road and no worry of leeches. In spite of lot of leeches discovered clinging on the boots and pants of members, apparently no one has been sucked. We go down the road and come to the twin tudingong shrine (雙生土地公) at 15:44. This shrine is also associated with the reservoir. One of the tudigong was originally located in the area now under the reservoir water. According to a legend, during the time of construction, there happened a lot of problems, and they moved the deity from the original place to the current location and no more problem. It is a kind of rare shrine which houses two tudigong, though there are many temples and shrines that different kind of gods like Taoism deities and Buddhist are being worshiped under the same roof. Some of the members wait here for their cars to come and pick up. The rest of us go across the bridge just under the shrine. The oldest water purify plat is just visible by the river. This place is closely associated with water supply system of the past. We go up a little and come to Shuiyuandi bus stop at a little before 16:00. In about fifteen minutes our bus #R86 has come.

Shuangshen (double deity) Tudigong shrine
Oldest water purification plant in Taiwan
The total activity time including rests was approximately 7 hours and we covered 9.3km. We had only 27 members this time and this is one of the factors that we walked smoothly and finished our hike within the target, though there was some difficult points like the wide river crossing and so on. The sky was cloudy all day through, but we had no rain. It is in fact better than under clear sunny sky because it gets very hot. Autumn is already here. The difficulty lever is 3 for both the route and the physical fitness.

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