Distance: 4km on trail, 7km including the not-quite-sensible road walk back to the car as we hadn’t realised that the bus was a circular going only in the opposite direction to the one we needed to go in and would be returning to its depo for the night without passing where we needed to go.
Time: 3.75 hours on trail, 45 minutes on the road.
Difficulty (regular Taiwan hiker): 1.5/10 – the only tiring part is the climb, otherwise it’s easy.
Difficulty (new Taiwan hiker): 5/10 – there are a lot of steps but that’s about all, there are not many diverging paths and there’s adequate signage.
Water: 0.8L in the winter was plenty but I would probably want a bit more if it was hot and sunny.
Shade: almost no shade at all, save it for the winter if you’re prone to frying or take sun protection.
Mobile network: pretty good all the way.
Enjoyment: Despite going on a foggy day I really appreciated the open feel of this hike, it reminded me of the type of hiking you get in Hong Kong in the New Territories or Lantau Island. Also the pungent fumeroles and occasional hot spring stream added to the enjoyment. Better planning on our behalf would have improved this walk for me – if we’d got public transport we would have been able to get back to civilisation easier.
Showing an alarming lack of vitality at the starting point…
At the next junction we also turned right following signs to Shaoyoukeng and the bamboo trail. The bamboo trail seems to be a loop from there and from looking at the map it would appear that we could have continued straight and arrived at Shaoyoukeng in about the same time.
The first of many signs explaining ‘the view’, they were slightly lost on us but it does make me want to come back again on a day when there is a view to see.
This was the actual view on the day, it was undoubtedly beautiful but the backdrop had disappeared. It also reminds me of a scene from some type of slow-burner horror movie but thankfully it didn’t feel that way at the time.
After not too long the path curved around and the visitor centre came into sight. There were a couple of cosplayers out on a photo shoot when we arrived so we passed quickly in order not to interrupt.
The stairs go up the side of the building and once you’re around the front you can go up the next set of steps towards the road. I stopped to make use of the toilets here before continuing on.
At the road head straight towards the bus shelter (just visible in this picture through the mist).
At the shelter the path veers off from the road and the climbing begins. The sign explains that at 1120m Qixing mountain is the highest in the Yangmingshan national park and that the microclimates of the north-facing, monsoon-battered slope and the south-facing, sheltered slope have caused very different habits to be formed.
Not far up from the road we came across the first sign of the volcanic landscape, a steaming stream full of warm-to-the-touch water, the smell that accompanied it was a milder version of the sulphur smell spilling from the vents further up.
The fog was thick on the way up, the path revealed itself gradually as we walked.
All the way up the north face there are fumeroles, (steam vents), to either side emitting a heavy, sulphur smell and wafts of hot air. The blackened/sickly-yellow land around these patches of steaming earth definitely add to the atmosphere – it seems like you’re walking through the aftermath of a terrible event, (which it kind of is when you remember that it’s residual volcanic heat).
One of the small fumeroles – the yellowing around the edge of the hole is a deposit of sulphur-rich minerals which is left as a residue as the gases escape.
At the top Teresa reverted to resting position.
At 15 degrees it was a good five degrees colder than in Taipei and we were both happy that we’d carried an extra layer up with us.
We exchanged photo-taking services with another couple of women who’d arrived a little before us.
Continuing we took the path leading down the other side of the mountain following signs to Qixing East Peak.
At the next junction we ran into a trio of incredibly tame Taiwanese bamboo partridges. I stopped walking and went quiet when we saw them, sure that we would startle them but instead they walked right up to us seeming vaguely interested and then just continued on their way. The photo doesn’t really do them justice, the rust and slate colours of their feathers were beautiful.
At the partridge junction we went more or less straight on (or left as you look at the post in this picture), continuing towards Mt Qixing East Peak and Lengshuikeng.
As you approach the east peak you pass through an impressive rock gateway.
The east peak information board was behind a small temporary pond.
Going over the east peak we followed the path down towards Lengshuikeng.
The mist here was magnificent. At points it felt like there was nothing beyond what we could see.
The southern slope has a lot more vegetation than the northern side which makes the path a little slippier.
And the trees give the fog an eerie feeling.
At the junction we took the left path to Lengshuikeng.
Heading down we encountered more and more signs of people.
At this junction we took the path heading off right (straight in the photo).
It led us through a small picnic area with a large two-storey pagoda shelter on the hill beyond. There are two paths up the hill the the pagoda, (we went right), but they both go to the same place.
The car park and bus stop revealed itself as we made our way down. The left-hand car park in this photo is for free public hotspring baths. There are separate rooms for men and women and if you don’t want to go through the hassle of getting undressed you can dip your feet in a pool out the front.
We walked the 3km back up the road to our car before the light went completely, (not advisable but possible), and then drove back to dip our feet in whilst working out what to have for dinner.
How to get to Qixing Shan
Google maps address: 小觀音停車場 – this takes you to the trailhead carpark.
GPS address: N25 10.786 E121 32.774
Public transport: bus 1717 goes from Taipei City Museum of Fine Arts (a short walk from Yuanshan MRT station) and can drop you off at the starting point and minibus S15 can pick you up from the end and take you to Jiantan MRT station.
My new words learnt on this hike were:
- 地圖 / dì tú / map
- 妳智障嗎 / nǐ zhì zhàng ma / are you mentally retarded? (from what I can gauge this is about as PC as the equivalent English phrase so it’s not likely to become part of my repertoire).
- 手機有多少電 / shǒu jī yǒu duō shǎo diàn / how much battery does the phone have?
- 硬 / yìng / hard
- 腔調 / qiāng diào / accent
- 峰 / fēng / peak
- 你會瘦 / nǐ huì shòu / you will get thin (said to a slightly chubby guy huffing and puffing his way up – again this is another one which might not fly back home).
- 新鮮 / xīn xiān / fresh