Monday, July 14, 2008
Posting has been light of late as I've been in China (Hainan Island and Qinghai) for the past two months on LP work. I had hoped to make a few posts while I was away but for some very odd reason the Great Firewall of China had my blog blocked. Too subversive I suppose. Should call it hiking the mountains, valleys, rivers and jungles of the renegade province.
In any case, I'll post a report with lots of pics later but today I want to write about the first swim of the season in the pools that line a pretty section of the Wantan River Valley.
The Wantan River flows into the Beishi upriver from Pinglin and eventualy feeds into Taipei's Feicui reservior, our main source of water. Though only 30km or so as the crow flies it takes at least `1.5 hours to drive to the trailhead, as this is a mountainous region and the roads follow a tortuous route.
We arrived at the trailhead around noon. From there it was a short hike on a narrow trail through a jungle landscape.
And 15 minutes later we had arrived. Chris and I had found this spot about two years ago on a four day walk from Pingxi to the coast. The water is as warm as a bath on a hot day and there is a little beach area on the south shore and a clearing under a shady tree. It's a popular place to picnic and camp (as the litter remains testify) but we've never seen anyone else there on a Sunday afternoon.
The rest of the afternoon we spent swimming, sleeping, arguing Taiwanese politics, and exploring the two pools just slightly downstream.
I'll let the pictures do the talking:
There were an unusual number of butterflies about. At least half a dozen different species:
Later in the afternoon we explored the lower pools. I may like these even more than the upper one. Behind number two is a large grassy field perfect for camping.
On the way home the air was dry, a rarity in this part of the county. Some great views were offered from roadside of the mountains and teafields.
And that's it for today. Bye all.
A couple posters asked for directions so here they are, sort of.
First get to Pinglin. The easiest way is to drive on the No 9 highway (those of you coming from Holland need to fly into Taipei first). In Pinglin head toward the new No 5 freeway entrance and get onto the 42 heading east. The 42 rides high above the river. Just past the 13KM mark turn off to the right and follow the little wooden signs in Chinese to 黑龍潭 (Heilongtan). This is a great campsite right at the spot where the Wantan and Beishi rivers meet.
From here I can't explain as it's basically completely unsigned and even I turn down wrong roads and have to backtrack almost every time I go. But there are swimming holes as great as these at Heilongtan. If you want to get to the ones above just head upstream from the campground and where the rivers join follow the Wantan (the river to the right). The swimming holes are about 1km upstream. There's a path that starts off the road that starts to head uphill near the junction of the rivers.