When discussing weekend activities with students, I almost always encounter a student who says he enjoys mountain climbing. Since day one, both Dan and I have corrected these students and explained that what they enjoy doing is called hiking in English.
That is, until we visited Wuliaojian.
Wuliaojian comes with warnings and prerequisites...
"Gloves are a good idea otherwise the ropes will take a toll. DON'T do this hike on wet or windy day, it's just too dangerous and wouldn't be fun anyway."
Wuliaojian is, afterall, mountain climbing!
Heeding these warnings, we had planned many weekend visits that were postponed due to rain. We were finally able to visit a few weekends ago on a spontaneous trip.
Saturday night we decided that we'd try to do the hike on Sunday. We got up (not too early) and headed to the bus station by 10am. The bus to Taipei took about an hour as usual and we hopped on the MRT Blue Line to Yongning, arriving a little after noon. There we were supposed to ask a taxi driver to take us to the trail head, however the two we asked did not know the location. So we checked the directions again and found a bus headed for Sanxia, the town near the trail head. Unfortunately in our haste, we boarded the bus headed back toward the city and failed to realize until nearly 45 minutes later. When we realized, we got off the bus and back on the MRT to Yongning! This time we were able to find a taxi driver who knew exactly where we wanted to go...2.5 hours and $300NT later we were standing at the foot of a high staircase at the trailhead.
The trail is not published in our Lonely Planet or Taipei Day Hikes, so we used these sites as our guides.
The hike began with a steep steps that soon faded into rocks. We were thankful for the advanced suggestion of gloves as rocks turned into boulders and our only way up was by using the ropes. About an hour into the hike, it started to level off and allowed for a more relaxed pace. Since we had arrived in the afternoon the sun wasn't as hot and there were absolutely no other people. However, it was quite humid as the trees trapped the hot air in and allowed for little breeze. Plus with all the climbing, we were sweaty!
After hiking/climbing for about 2.5 hours, we came to the crest, a beautiful overlook into the city. We rested for a bit, taking in the views, but the time and the impending clouds forced us to keep moving. Our research told us that the hike would take 4+ hours, but we had no way of gauging our progress. We didn't want to end up in the woods after dark, or get stuck in a rainstorm! So we pressed on...the descent was much quicker and took us in a loop. Soon we were back on the main road near where we started. The entire hike took just under 4 hours.
Unfortunately, due to the intensity of the climb (and the need for two hands), we were unable to get many pictures. Here are a few more to give you an idea of the hike. Also check out YouTube for some videos others have taken.