Friday, May 2, 2008

The Brothers' Peaks

Had a lovely afternoon in the wilds last Sunday. The sky could have been a brighter blue to enhance the overall glory of the landscape but that is a piddling complaint.

The trail we set out to hike is one we have never set foot on before. It starts off a beautiful mountain road that winds 500m above the sea between Shuangxi and Daxi on the Northeast Coast. I've driven the road many times, and even biked it once (highly recommended) but I'd never hiked any of the trails that I've seen tagged heading up to the ridgetop or down to the coast.

Sunday was the day to correct that. The hard part was deciding which trail as I poured over my map. A series of small peaks called Big Brother Peak, Brother No 2, 3, 5, 7, etc, caught my eye.

We could have taken the new tunnel to Daxi but I wanted to show the others the mountain road. As usual I stooped at this perfectly restored sanheyuan (a traditional 3-sided house).

We made many other stops to revel in the clear views of rolling hills, and coastal bluffs. This is one of the north's unsung country roads.

Much of the area is a watershed, which explains why there is so little development. Here we are observing the water that will later flow into our taps in Taipei.

And an old bridge:

The trail to the brothers' peaks starts around the 6.5km mark, just before a large temple perched over the Daxi River Valley. It's a simple 10 minute walk up a grassy trail to the ridge.

Some nice views of Turtle Island.

At the top we found outselves on a large rock outcrop with dazzling views up and down the coatsline. This would be a prime picnic spot.

After enjoying the view, we continued. The trail narrowed considerably, and while it was never so overgrown you could lose your way, it did require the occassional push through high grass. There was nothing too rough on Sunday, and in any case, the path follows the top of the ridgeline. The ocean is literally just down to the left, so you really can't get lost.

That said, the trail probably does get pretty overgrown at times, especially by summer. A machete wouldn't be a bad idea.

More glorious views as we pushed on.

We hiked from noon till about 3 along the ridge and then turned down a side path that took us back to the mountain road. From there we simply walked back to the car. That stretch took about 10 minutes. Looking at the map we could see that we'd only walked about 1km along the ridge.

This is a long coastal ridgeline, however, and the trail system is extensive. Jah Linnie has mentioned on that he has walked all of it in different stages from Daxi to Hwy 9 near Pinglin. He says it would take about 2 days to hike the entire thing, assuming the trail is passable the whole way. I plan to give it a try in the fall.

Originally we had planned to go for a swim in a nearby river (and a fresh seafood dinner at Daxi) but it was overcast by late afternoon and we all felt like getting home. On the way back we did stop at Wai'Ao Beach.

I love this Muslim inspired residence off the beach. Supposedly it is the home of a rich Taiwanese man who has done business in the Mid-East for decades and converted to Islam.

I also adore the heros of Islam statues.

So altogether another great day, with excellent company. And here's to yet another close-by trail system that begs for further exploration.


The trail starts around the 6.5km mark on the mountain road (labelled the 007, or 01, in this area). The trail is more like a wide grassy lane at the start and has a big sign for Yingshi Jian. The Brother's Peaks series start south of Yingshi Jian.

There is no water along the trail and you need your own transport to the start. Just realized that the no water bit will make a two day hike a bit more of a slog as I'll need to carry 6l or more.


Kate said...

Great story and photos, thanks Robert. I always want to hike along a ridge where I can see a view of splendid ocean. Sigh..., it's too bad that I missed this hiking event.

小玄 said...

hey..your blog is amazing..
tho i live in taiwan but you been more places than i did...

hope you enjoy living here and keep on your mountain life. :D