Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Back on the trails after a month riding around in the back of a Land Cruiser. The destination: Bijia Shan, part of a long ridge system that runs from Xindian in Taipei County pretty much to the east coast around Jiufen. The most famous section is called Huangdi Dian (after the butcherous first emperor of China), but among the cognoscenti (which includes a former Taiwanese premier) Bijia Shan is the best.
Bijia Shan means Penrack Mountain is Chinese which gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect: rolls and dips and undulations. It's a full body workout involving a lot of rope climbs and rock scambling. The ridge is narrow, as usual, but the trees and vegetation grow up from the slopes so you don't feel exposed in most places. This allows you to enjoy the great sweep of foothills in all directions (obviously better on a clear day).
Unfortunately, though Saturday began with promise it soon turned overcast. No inspiring views, just a good 6 hour workout and plenty of time to chat with some friends I haven't seen for a while.
We began the hike in Maokong and went west to east, opposite of our usual routine. I think Shiding to Maokong is best. I prefer finishing with just a short walk remaining down to Maokong (which I consider home), as opposed to a 30 minute bus ride back to town.
As I wrote, it was a day to catch up with friends. Here are some that caught up with me:
Nasty little creatures. I was in the lead and scored about 20. How many can you count on the one gator? Where's Leech-o anyone?
To get to the trailhead in Shiding, take the 666 bus (the bus of the beast) from Muzha Rd, just down from the Muzha MRT exit. Get off in Shiding (a 30 minute ride) and cross the road. At the bridge you'll see English signs for the Bijia Shan trail. Follow them. Along the ridge signs tell you how much further you have to go. We usually take about 6 hours.
On the other side, just after climbing down a metal staircase, you'll reach a junction of trails. Be careful not to head up Ergeshan. Just keep heading down in the direction you were going in. In 20 minutes or so you will reach a road. Keep heading down until you reach another larger road. You can catch a bus here back to Muzha, or if you keep walking you will reach some teahouses.
For my dear Dutch readers, I hear British Airways has sales to Taipei via Manila. Once in Taiwan take a high-speed rail to Taipei Main Station, then catch the MRT to Muzha.
More pics here.