Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Our First Hike in Taiwan

Tuesday was the first day since we've arrived in Taiwan that we had absolutely nothing that we had to do. What a glorious feeling.

We decided to head out to Da Keng, a scenic area near to Taichung (about 1/2 hour by scooter or car) where there is hiking and other outdoors things to do.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but in my mind I pictured trails similar to those in Colorado... maybe some nice relaxing hikes, maybe some more difficult ones, meandering through the woods with a great view at the top.... that was not quite what we got!

I'm not really sure why I still have expectations for things. If there is one thing that this whole experience has taught me it is this: my expectations are based on my culture and what I know from the US... I'm not in the US anymore, therefore nothing is ever what I expect it will be.

So Tuesday morning, after breakfast we both hopped on our little 125cc scooter and headed up into the mountains. Please try to imagine a scooter with about 350 pounds on it heading straight up a mountain... lets just say, the scooter was definitely hurting! Thankfully its a rental, so we weren't too worried about it!

We arrived at the head of trail 1 and started hiking.
Pretty soon we came to a physical fitness course with all kinds of things, like monkey bars (which Nick is trying out here) and a rope tunnels (which I made the mistake of trying out here)

After that minor detour, we were off on the hike. At first was walked along a concrete path. (This was definitely not undisturbed natural beauty... )But the concrete quickly faded and became basically a wood ladder for the remainder of the 3 hour hike. We were literally climbing up and climbing down this ladder for the entire hike.

Talk about not being able to take your eyes off of the trail. I have to admit I was a little confused. From what we had heard, it sounded to us like families go up there for a relaxing day with their kids... just walking through the woods.... but noooooooo sir-ie, that is not what this is.

We even saw a family of 5 hiking it. A mom and dad with two small children (one being carried by his father) and their tooth-less grandmother climbing with them! I was amazed. This is no walk in the park. It was about 80 degrees and humid and we were climbing one of the steepest things I've ever hiked on before. It was intense!
Based on the family we saw up there, and the fact that we hiked on three different trails, all with the exact same terrain, it seems to me that this is what people do to get out of the city!

Although it was a good workout, I definitely did not find it very relaxing. My legs felt a bit like jelly at the end!

The view from the top was pretty cool... Taichung is quite the sprawling city, although you can't see much from the pictures (it was a pretty hazy day). Anyway, it was definitely nice to get out of the city and be on our own for the day, although I'm not sure how anxious I will be to hike here again!

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