Saturday, October 1, 2011

E. Hehuan Shan

Our Saturday began by grabbing various items and hoping the camping bins were stocked for a get-away in eastern Taiwan. For some reason, we have recently stagnated since returning to Taichung with few weekend trips. The first stop was a local park for Audrey to get a quick run-about and we "discovered" the first forgotten item - leash and collar. How could we forget this? She's more fun off-leash anyways...

Stop number 2 seems to have become an essential part of Saturday mornings. Maybe it's our need for some western indulgence but we often find ourselves heading down Jinhua Road for the Early Bird Diner on most Saturdays. Bottomless cups of coffee, blueberry pancakes (with whipped cream!), and Krista's essential starter - bacon - are all served up. Needless to say, we were on the slow path out of town but eventually got rolling and found light traffic on the freeways all the way to Puli.

From Puli, the route necks down to a narrow lane in each direction heavily traveled by tour buses and big trucks. Today, cabbages seemed to be a popular item of transport. We then passed the craziness that is Cingjing Farm. At some point, a government official decided that it would be great to have farms in various districts for the Taiwanese to visit. This one was crowded with lots of people who appeared to be looking at sheep.

The road got narrower as we neared the mountain - entering Taroko Gorge National Park and crossing the altitude mark of 3000m. The hot, sunny weather of Taichung was replaced by clouds, rain and wind. Opening the car door in the parking lot was a risk as it almost became unhinged due to the strong wind. After a quick lunch inside the Freeca, we let out our over-excited pooch and began heading up towards Hehuan Shan (shan means mountain).

Taiwan does not receive much snow but if one wanted to find it in the winter time, Hehuan would be a good bet. At some point there was even skiing!

Enjoying the open spaces and lack of concrete, we seemed immune to the conditions. At first...Nearing the peak, we realized the extent of our lackadaisical packing job. Our clothes were completely soaked through! The light raincoats we brought as an afterthought did little for the constant rain and Krista did not have a change of clothes in the car.

Krista's and Audrey's first Taiwan peak - E. Hehuan Shan - 3,422 m (11,227 ft)

"the view"

The return leg was quick as we scurried down in the hopes of warming up. Several large Taiwanese groups were climbing up and made us wonder how busy the mountain would be on a sunny day. The shift cloud banks offered few glimpses of the beauty to be found in the high mountains of Taiwan.

Satisfied with a fun hike, we toweled off our wet dog and began the trek back home. Next time, a change of clothes and a bit better weather gear will accompany us into the mountains.

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