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2016-02-28

2016年2月27日 慢集團@大屯山南峰 Strenuous hiking in a rainy day

At the summit of Mt. Datunshan south peak (Mr. Wang picture)
昨年12月に歩いたコースを、今回は慢集團のメンバーを連れて歩いた。あいにくの雨で、大屯山南峰を登頂した後は、予定の下山コースを変えて二子坪経由で下った。悪天候で参加者が少ないかと思ったが、それでも筆者自身をいれて19名、雨の中を歩き終えた。青楓步道の後の山道は、急坂でもともと歩きにくい道だが、それが雨で土はとても滑りやすく、ぬれた矢竹をくぐって進むのは、とても大変だった。ルートとしては、後半12月のものとは違うが、その部分も以前すでに記述があるので今回は、英語で記述する。

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Start from Yangming park (south) to Erziping parking area
Mt. Datunshan west peak momentarily shows its peak
Mt. Datunshan (大屯山) of Yangmingshan National Park (陽明山國家公園) is a popular destination of hiking and has well maintained trails to its peaks by the park authority. Most hikers follow the official trails to reach the summits, while there are "unofficial" trails opened by hikers themselves. These trails are very primitive compared to the official ones with big money to be taken care of. The footpaths are narrow and without any aiding facilities, even no simple ropes at some new ones. They are basically for those who have some experiences to follow the trails with maps. At the cost of hardship you can get more contact with nature and less people. That it the point that attracts me.

Erzping (二子坪)
I have hiked many such trails on Yangmingshan peaks as well as in other areas when I came across information of such trails. A new trail leading up to Mt. Datunshan south peak was posted in Fasebook by one of my friends. I was very curious and decided to walk on it with other two adjacent ones that I had since been interested in. That was the hike I made with several friends in December last year. Under an exceptionally warm weather in December we enjoyed "unofficial" trails and even cool bear on the summit of Mt. Datunshan south peak.

That was then and we had a cold rainy day for this hiking under Manjituan (慢集團 Andante) group of hikers. We followed the same course of last December, going along Houkan historical trail (猴崁古道) to Zhuzihu (竹子湖) and then onto the steep climb route to the south peak. After many days of rain, the dirt trail turned out be a slippery demon, while rain drops on tall thin bamboos made clothes wet. All members struggled such bad trails and reached the peak. I discovered that some members showed fatigue and time was rather late for the original route down. Rain made the original decent route, also an unofficial Datunggu (大屯谷) valley trail, more difficult to go down. So I made a change in the course and walked on an official trail to Erziping (二子坪) to complete the hike.

All geared up for rain at the starting point
Entering Yanmingshan Park (by Mt. Wu)
We had many rainy days this winter. We had only a few fine days in February. It rained day after day and our hike was on such a day. I knew that it would rain on our hiking day but told people that we would go even if it rained. It turned out be really another rainy day. I wondered how many hikers would show up. To my surprise as many as 18 hikers showed up at the starting point, Yanmingshan National Park rear entrance (陽明山公園後門). Most members, including myself, have taken a ride on S8 bus (小8公車) to get there. When we have reached there a little afeter 8:00 a few members are already there waiting. It still rains albeit not so hard. Everybody put on rain wear in a small eating house by the road.

Going up Qinchunling steep steps (by Mr. Wu)
We take off at 8:30 and enter the park through a gate which was under repair last December. We walked on the stone steps and come to a pool under Datun water fall (大屯瀑布). Water in the pool is full and rushing down to the stream below. This is where the first hard ascent starts. This place is called Qingchunling (青春嶺, meaning Youth Peak), probably because you need to be young enough to go up. Steeply it ascends, luckily it does not last long. In about a half hour from the staring point, we reach a pavilion on the top of steep steps. We have a short break for members to adjust clothes.

Pavilion shelter at the top of steep steps (by Mr. Wu)
Walking on a car road (by Mr. Wu)
We start on the paved trail and then onto a short section of the car road to the Houkan historical trail (猴崁古道) head. It is so called because it goes along the water canal called Houkan (猴崁水圳) canal. The narrow footpath besides the canal is of dirt and of course it is muddy today. I wear rain boots today and I am very happy about that. We follow the trail and go through a camellia tree garden. There are some camellia flowers here and there. The canal goes like snake on the side of a hill and we pass a junction which leads to the car road up on the hill. We keep on the trail.

The trail goes along a canal
Crossing the branch stream (by Mr. Wu)
We pass a newly restored canal section, which apparently has been washed away by a typhoon last summer. The cliff on your left is deep and everybody carefully pass it. We go along the easy trail, though some section needs special care to pass by, and come to a water fall by 9:40. This is where the branch stream meets the main one running from Zhuzihu area. Water in the branch stream is plenty and covers stepping stones. I again am happy that today I wear rain boots because I can step in water. In a matter of a few minutes after the branch stream we come to an end of this trail and jump onto a paved road by a bridge at 9:50.

Peaks of  Mr. Datung is in mist
If the weather is fine, you can see the peaks of Mt. Datunshan over your right. They are covered with thick mist today. After a short rest we resume our hike onto Qingpeng trail (青楓步道). This is a good trail and some parts are made up with solid wood plates. We walk a little along the main steam down and go up on the hillside. We enter a narrow valley with many maple trees and up to the car road on the top. This is the end of this short trail. If you come here in late autumn you can see yellow maple leaves.

On Qingfeng train (by Mr. Wang)
Have a break on the way up
So far it is OK though rain does not stop. Now we come to a hard part of the hike. When we came here two months ago, the rail was dry albeit its steep incline. As soon as we start on it, we realize that how slippery it gets after days of rain. We have to climb this steep grade with  slippery surface, which give us hard time. The troop of 19 members extends very long as we go up. Members at the tail of the troop are really struggling as they have to go up on the extremely slippery grade which have been made worse by the foregoing members. We make a break at 10:50 and wait for the rest of members to catch up.

Go level by the hillside
We continue our ascent of which we have already passed the hardest part. The grade gets moderate and the trail goes along the hillside. It has some ups and downs and we can finally see the south peak in a distance. We walk for another half hour or so and I receive a call from Mr. W walking at the troop tail saying that a few members are far behind. It is indeed a hard work for some members to come up on this trail. We wait for some time for them to catch up. In more twenty minutes we reach the official trail to the south peak. Now we have completed the hardest part of our hike and are on a good trail. It is already past 12:00 and time for lunch but it is not a good point to have it while drizzle is still falling on us. We then decide to go over to a pavilion at Datunping (大屯坪).

Lunch at Datunping pavilion shelter (by Mr. Wu)
Going up to the south peak in mist (by Mr. Wu)
At the junction under the south peak
We take right, go down the trail and come to a junction where a stone paved trail leads from Datunping to the main peak of Mt. Datunshan. We make left turn and go further down. Soon we arrive at a pavilion. The pavilion shelter is now in rather sad shape as its pillar is half rotten and roofs got holes. It obviously needs fix and a yellow tape goes around it to keep  hikes off. We do not mind that and get in for rest anyhow. Most of us have lunch standing.

I make an announcement that we will change a course and not go down by the original Datungu trail, which is also an unofficial trail. Two of the members leave us and go down by themselves. The rest of us, 17 in total, first go back on the trail that we have come down. When we pass the junction to the south peak, a thermometer shows 10 degree. No wonder I felt cold when we had a lunch a while ago. We keep on the good trail and come up onto a grass field. Wind blows through, which makes a little chilly. The scenery around is all in thick fog. We reach the summit at 13:05. It is a pity that friends from Tainan (台南) cannot have a good view from the summit, which they could have a good command over all Taipei area if the sky were clear.

At the junction of main trail left to Erziping
After a short rest on the summit, we start decent. The grade on this side of the summit is very steep, Aiding ropes are fixed and we can use them for going down. In a matter of a few minutes we come down to a junction. My original plan is to take left here and go down along Datungu valley. We take right here instead and go on to another junction to the west peak. We meet another hiking party on the way. There are indeed hikers on such a bad weather day besides us. We take right on the junction and go further down to the stone paved trail leading Erziping.  We reach the trail at 13:45 where it is actually not far from the pavilion where we had a lunch.

Erziping
We walk on the good trail to Erziping. The trail goes up a little first and all the way down to Erziping at 14:04 where a pond is located in the center. We have a short rest. My rain boots and rain pants are all muddy. I wash off mud and my foot is still dry. Rain boots are really great for hiking on such a dirt trail like today. The rest of the hike is just a peace of cake.  We reach Erziping parking area at 14:50 where we take a #108 shuttle bus to Yangmingshan bus terminal and complete our 6 hour-and-a-half hike.

It was a strenuous hike though the total distance was just less than 10 km. It was so because the very slippery steep trail was tough and rain kept falling during the entire activity. It was a kind of training, namely hiking on a tough trail in a rainy day. If you think that way, this kind of hiking is not without its value.

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