Jan 7, 2010 at 1:37 am #1253868
Taiwan is an island country in the south of Japan. Some people mix up us with Thailand, and some people thought we belong to China. Actually, we are a small country with our own government and president. There are nice mountains and rivers here. The highest peak in Taiwan is Mt. Jade, which is 3952 meters high. We call it Yushan.
There is an activity very popular in Taiwan which is similar to canyoning. When hiking along the river in the direction of countercurrent, we sometimes need to swim across deep pools with high-speed stream, sometimes need to climb waterfall, and sometime bushwhacking to overcome too difficult terrains and rappel to go back to the riverbed. We call this activity “river tracing”, which I think is come from Japan. The reason that this activity is popular in Taiwan may because the rivers here are generally steep and not too big resulting in many challenging topography. Actually, this activity requires ropes and many other gears, so it is difficult to be ultralight. However, this is why we need to go lighter to carry those heavy and necessary equipments.
In the 3 days New Year holidays, I visited this river again. We discovered many hot spring outcrops in this river previously and didn’t show them to the public where they are. This time we canyoning to this secret place. I think we can only get this palce in winter since the water may become too high in other seasons.
My girlfriend is always the one who carries the smallest pack. That's why I need to go ultralight. On the last day I even have to pack her pack on my pack. This time she carried older version golite ion. outside the pack is a life vest.
This mountain area is damp and usually misty. We hike from about 2000 meters high to 1200 meters high. The temperature is about 45F~53F.
Since some cliffs have collapsed, we sometimes need to traverse on the talus.
The water is so clean that it's easy to see through the water to the river bottom. It's really cold to swim in this season.
My MLD Duomid.
Brian’s Tarptent Contrail.
A friend from Florida, Brian. He told us that he likes river tracing excluding the ascending part. Because we went the same way forth and back, we need to ascend back as high as we rappelled. It did make us exhausted.
The sun came out only once to warm us.
Hot spring fountain.
Swimming across deep pool.
For further pictures please see the link below.
If anyone has chance to visit Taiwan, please contact me. I would be very happy to go hiking with you guys.Jan 7, 2010 at 8:54 am #1560436
@valsharLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Wow…who knew that there was such a thing in Taiwan?!
Thank you for sharing your trip with us.
It is always fascinating to see what activities and places there are to go in other countries.
What do you wear to deal with the cold water?
Do you wear a think wet suit of some sort?
Skinny dude that I am, I would quickly stiffen up in the water and sink to the bottom! :)
-TonyJan 7, 2010 at 10:46 am #1560491
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Wow, that is some beautiful scenery. Looked like all had a wonderful time.Jan 7, 2010 at 5:11 pm #1560607
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
This "River Tracing" is a really neat activity. Thanks for sharing!Jan 7, 2010 at 5:34 pm #1560613
I'm also a skinny guy.
Powerstretch cloth does good job. I'm used to wear both PS top and bottom, and they make me feel warmer and dry soon after I leave the water though they are still wet. If it is colder, I'll wear a neoprene vest inside my PS. Life vest may also provide some warmth. Some people who cannot stand the cold water may even wear neoprene suits similar to those people wear in surfing or diving activity, but I think it's too heavy and restict my movement. Besides, we usually wear neoprene knee and shin pad with thicker cushion outside to not only protect the under knee and shin from bumping rocks but also keep us warm since our lower legs are most frequently in the water.
During this activity, we need to reduce the time when our body is in the water as much as possible to reserve our energy.
Jang-tian(Syoten)Jan 7, 2010 at 7:37 pm #1560642
@funnymoLocale: Sunshine State
Very nice trip, and great scenery! Beautiful stuff. Thanks for sharing.
ToddJan 7, 2010 at 9:39 pm #1560675
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
CheersJan 9, 2010 at 10:19 am #1561104
@tomclarkLocale: East Coast
Beautiful photos of an exciting trip in an exotic location that most of us will never be able to go. That's what I'm looking for in these trip reports!
Thanks!Jan 30, 2010 at 5:55 am #1567835
I was lucky enough to make a two week trip to Taiwan a couple of years ago, unfortunately before I'd heard of river tracing or sensible, lightweight backpacking ;)
There are some amazing looking long trails there… we only did a two night hike over Yushan from the Tatjia entrance to Dongpu, and will definitely be going back some day.
I think, with few exceptions, there shouldn't be many places in the world that people would never have the opportunity to get to. Though I guess if you already live in a country with amazing places to go, the cost of the flights might be harder to justify ;)Jan 30, 2010 at 8:47 am #1567863
Amazing pics and write up!!
I grew up in Taiwan – 1968-1979 – and did a backpacking (hosteling) trip there in 2006 — spending one month going around the main island plus the outer islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Penghu, Lanyu and Lu Dao. Basically did everything EXCEPT visiting the mountains. Not enough time. So I'll need to make a return trip again!
Hey! For those of you who are "surprised" at how beautiful Taiwan is… the Portuguese didn't call it "Formosa" for nothing! It really is a beautiful, beautiful island. Here's why:
1. Beautiful people! Expect to meet some of the friendliest and most hospitable people anywhere on Earth! Most can speak some English as well.
2. Beautiful culture! Right underneath the veil of modernity, traditional Chinese culture is alive and well in Taiwan. Sadly, you WON'T find much of that in China anymore (I know because I just spent 3 heart-breaking months traveling in China). Oh, and the creme de la creme of China's imperial art collections are in Taiwan — NOT China.
3. Beautiful cuisine! You can find cuisine from most all parts of China right in Taiwan, plus international, plus the famous night markets.
4. Beautiful scenery! Lush mountains. Beautiful beaches (east coast). Outer islands with amazing snorkeling that beats southern Thailand. That and the pics above, enough said!
5. Modern infrastructure! Tying it all together… trains going 250mph will whisk you from one end of the island to the other in a mere 90 minutes. All first and second tiered train stations have TI (Tourist Info) desks that give out free city maps, points of interests and hotel recommendation to fit different budgets. Bus networks go pretty much everywhere. Metros (subways) in the major cities. And most everything is signed in Chinese and English.
So, if you've got a week or more of free time…Jan 30, 2010 at 9:01 am #1567866
One clarification. Yu Shan, the highest mountain in Taiwan, is about 600 feet higher than Mount Fuji in Japan. Hardly dwarfing.
–B.G.–Jan 30, 2010 at 9:06 am #1567869
I caught that myself and edited it out — just one minute before you posted. :)Jan 30, 2010 at 9:19 am #1567873
Each of my Taiwanese friends have recommended for me to climb the Jade Mountain sometime, not that any of them have ever done it themselves.
Fuji is almost as tall, but it is more picturesque. I hiked up there many, many moons ago, and it kicked my butt.
–B.G.–Jan 30, 2010 at 9:29 am #1567874
Fuji is lovely because of its near-perfect symmetry and also just the fact that there are no other mountains blocking the view. I've only seen it from the foot. Actually hiking, I'm sure it's an awesome experience but the lush, lush, lush mountains more southerly are pretty hard to beat too. Good thing? They're not mutually exclusive. We can "see them all".
I recently saw Mt. Everest — again from the foot (Base Camp). Lovely and majestic to be sure, but because there are mountains all around (including the one where the camp is situated) — viewing it objectively, it may as well be "just" a 12K peak. Nevertheless, emotionally, just knowing I was staring at the tallest thing on Earth is still awesome.Jan 30, 2010 at 9:34 am #1567876
Parts of Taiwan are truly beautiful. I went there several years ago. I took the train down the east coast from Taipei to Kaohsiung. Taiwan's east coast has mountains coming straight down into the ocean. We rented a car to drive up into the mountains for a day — very beautiful, very steep. Sadly, I didn't have time for any hiking.
The people were also very kind to me. At one train station the ticket seller went searching through the platform till he found a student who spoke English to translate.Jan 30, 2010 at 9:36 am #1567877
Although I have viewed high mountains in many countries, so far I have missed Jade Mountain.
Fuji was most spectacular from a distance when the sun was at just the right angle.
Everest is high, but it is well-hidden within its cluster of peaks. Seeing it from an airliner bound for Kathmandu made my heart race. By the time I got up to its base, my heart was already racing from the altitude. The poster-size photo is hanging on the wall.
–B.G.–Jan 30, 2010 at 9:43 am #1567878
Walter — sounds like you too need to do another trip there. Maybe Mr. Shieh will play tour/mountain guide for us?
Bob — Yes, viewing Everest is an experience not easily forgotten. Two pics I took:Jan 30, 2010 at 9:57 am #1567881
Those Everest photos are from the north (Chinese) side. I've been up to the bottom of Everest twice from the south (Nepal) side.
–B.G.–Jan 30, 2010 at 10:08 am #1567884
Yes. I haven't been to the Nepali side, but according to my Lonely Planet guide, the view from the Chinese side is "far superior". True or not, I was lucky it was a beautiful day that day.
OK, back to Taiwan, "the other China"! :)Jan 30, 2010 at 10:15 am #1567885
Perhaps Mr. Shieh has a photo of Yu Shan from a distance, so that we can size it up.
–B.G.–Feb 1, 2010 at 1:02 am #1568470
I don't recall seeing any spectacular viewpoints of the peak when I went up it… you'd probably have to go up one of the neighbouring peaks to see that. Its tricky because it isn't one nice pointy mountain standing proud of the surrounding terrain… wikipedia lists 12 separate highpoints spread over a few square miles at the point where two ridges meet.
I seem to recall there's a little grassy prominence at Batongguan meadows (though I've lost my map and do not recall the name… I'll guess 'Batongguanshan', which has a few google hits) which, at 2700-odd metres should offer a nice view up the Laonung valley to the big cliff at the north east of the main peak… but we were already shattered and running late when we walked past that, and so didn't stop to check ;-)
Its a long day's hike from Dongpu to Batongguan though, so I doubt anyone will be able to just nip up there to check!
Its the fact that Yushan offers this sort of through-hike (rather than the usual up and back) that attracted it to me whilst I was in Taiwan… most people I chatted to said that Siueshan (English transliterations vary wildly, so I'm not sure of the 'correct' spelling!) was much prettier, though the choice of route is much more limited.Feb 2, 2010 at 4:19 am #1568797
You can search for pictures of Yushan on google as the link below,
or you can see my pictures.
Yushan is indeed the highest and most famous mountain here, but I would recommand othere areas for you guys. The reason is that there are too many people planing to go to Yushan results in the difficulty to apply for the permission. Actually, there are a lot of beautiful scenaries where it is not crowded with people, and the nature is well preserved.
If you guys have chance to come to Taiwan, please feel free to contact me for any information. Besides, if time allows, I would be very happy to go hiking with ul hikers from other countries.Feb 2, 2010 at 9:17 am #1568869
Or click here for Mr. Shieh's photos.
HTML Man to the Rescue!Nov 21, 2011 at 11:01 am #1804051
Hello Syoten (Jang-Tian Shieh),
Really enjoyed your account and photos of river tracing! I came over to Taiwan 2 years ago with my partner who is Taiwanese and had a wonderful time touring the country. I did a bit of river swimming and some walks in the forests and can see what a lovely country you have (as were the people i met).
We will be visiting again next Jan/Feb. Wonder if you might be planning any river tracing trips i could join you on or if you could recommend any groups/individuals i could get in contact with to arrange something?
Anyway, thanks for the inspiration.
Cheers – George
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