Last week, before the long weekend, was mid-terms week. Teachers love mid-terms days because we get a schedule of tests to “invigilate”, and if you aren’t scheduled you don’t have to be at school (You don’t get paid of course, but it can’t be an absolutely perfect world right? Only an almost perfect one). With a little luck and some rearranging of my schedule, I only had the first period test and was free the rest of the day on Wednesday. When my students wrinkled their brows and glowered at their test papers, I was staring out the window counting down the minutes until I would be outside. Poor suckers, I thought, they have to test all day and teacher is going hiking on a Wednesday.
When I finished, we headed to YuanZuei Mountain. In the Guguong area near Dasyueshan (not “University” Mountain). Near DasyueShan National Forest Recreation Area.
Yuan is a species of eagle, and Zuei is mouth, so the English name would be something like; Eagle Beak Mountain. It is named after an eagle’s beak because the top 500 meters or so are primarily granite, making for a very sharply shaped peak that resembles an eagles beak.
It is only 2,180 meters tall, to the peak it was a little over a 1 kilomter hike. However, it was extremely steep and took us around an hour.
The top gave us a view of the surrounding mountains, some of which I think were the tail end of the Snow Mountain range.
On one side of the peak the air was clear, while the other side was a sea of clouds.
We found a pigeon who looked a little lost hanging out at the top for a while.
Taiwan is unique for many ecological reasons, it is one of the only places that has both hot and cold climate species, most of them inhabiting the same mountain ranges, only at different altitude levels. Taiwan has five different types of pine, on this hike we encountered Taiwan cedar, pine, ferns, rhododendron Formosan. You can read more about Dasyueshan and Formosan flora and fauna here; Dasyueshan Forest Recreation Area
It is a loop trail, ending and beginning only 2km from each other on the mountain road. Both sides are steep nearing the top and have ropes and handholds to assist with the ascent and descent.
I thought it slightly resembled some of the mountains in the Adirondacks with the large expanses of granite at the top. Even though it was short, the hiking was much more challenging than Yushan (Jade Mountain) because of the steep sudden incline and granite exterior. Fortunately, for people like me, this means it is all that much more fun.