When I ask my students what they do in their free time most of them reply “sleep”. I scoffed at this reply my first few months in Taiwan, thinking they were lazy and unadventurous. Now, I can understand after a rigorous 40 hour (plus cram school) brain-hammering work week all they want to do is sleep. I totally get it, and I have learned to appreciate a good nap also. But I like to nap on mountain tops.
Due to my companions recent surgery and the current condition of my knees, we have been trying to keep our adventures at a slower pace. A few weeks ago we drove to Guguong on Saturday morning for an easy day hike. Guguong is known primarily for its hot springs, the draw for many hikers is the 7 moderately easy peaks that surround the small town.
We climbed (mountain name).The trail started in a large temple parking lot, just out of central Guguong (follow the main road off of the highway exit for about 15k past the town and it is a giant Confucian temple on the left hand side of the road, you can’t miss it).
It was a 6km path of switchbacks to the top, we saw some interesting spring fauna on the way.
It was an easy trail, we hike at a fast pace and passed a lot of other hikers on the way. We made it to the top in about two hours, before noon. The only challenge was near the peak…
At the peak we found a nice spot to have a snack and take a nap. Apparently everyone else had the same idea.
It took about an hour and a half back to the car. We went at a much slower pace for the descent because of my old knees.
This past weekend we headed back to Hehuan Shan. One of the easiest climbs and most accessible of the Taiwan 100. From Taichung, it took about 3 hours to get there via car. From what I saw there are bus routes that go all the way to the service station, less than 0.5km away from the north peak trail head.
At a slow pace, the 1.7km to the peak took about an hour and a half.
The campsite is close to the peak, an easy 30 minute descent into a small valley. At the site, there is a small river, which makes camping in Hehuan north peak even easier. Hehuan is accessible, easy to climb, and has a water source, and offers beautiful views of the holy ridge mountain range when the weather is clear. Since I have claimed several times that it is very easy, we will see if I change my mind after trying snow camping in Hehuan this coming winter.
Since it was a beautiful Saturday there were many families and hikers along the trail, a good start for beginners and small children.
At top we had lunch and took a nap. The peak is covered in flat flaky slate-like rock and spiky bamboo grass, still, I fell asleep instantly on a pile of rocks and had a nice restful nap in the sun, I still have the burns to prove it. There is no sleep like mountain top sleep.