epaper

Exploring High Mountain HighsTaiwan at Her Peaks

TAIWAN HAS MORE THAN 200 SUMMITS OVER 3,000 METERS HIGH. AND THESE FORM JUST A FRACTION OF HER TERRAIN RISING ABOVE 1,000 METERS. HIKERS, REJOICE. BY RICK CHARETTE

Almost heaven
Island Formosa
Blue-fringed mountains
Muddy Waters River

Whatever your spiritual or exercise needs, here you'll find the surroundings and challenges requisite to rising above the lesser goals you've been chasing down in the world of mere mortal horizons below. Time to take the high road.

LONG AGO, ON MY FIRST HIGH-MOUNTAIN EXPLORATION of this island's densely clustered canopy of mist-embraced peaks, the above ditty slowly and irresistibly revealed itself to me. My apologies to John Denver. The "Muddy Waters" refers not to the great southern U.S. blues singer but to one of Taiwan's mightier rivers, especially in typhoon season, the Jhuoshuei River (lit. "Muddy Waters" River), which brings silt in prodigious quantity down from the endless almost-vertical slopes, inching Taiwan's western coastline ever closer to China's. The ditty rumbles about without cease in my brain each time I head back into or even think of the island's mountains, and I hereby bestow it on you. Should we ever meet up you may tell me whether this has been blessing or curse. Humming to yourself yet?

The terrain. What is this place, physically speaking? A titanic struggle between two testy-tempered tectonic plates, revealed. When you think of Taiwan think not only of "high" and "technology," but of "high" peaks and "tec-"tonics.

The Eurasian and Philippine plates are engaged in a to-the-death struggle. Taiwan, an exposed display of this Herculean wrestle, is being heaved sky-high out of the ocean's depths, at the dizzying pace for geologists of a few centimeters a year. Taiwan appeared from the watery below 4-5 million years back when the Eurasian plate, where China sits, began to slip under an ancient chain of volcanic islands on the Philippine plate.

In the north at the east-west Datun Range here, the western terminus is the Yangmingshan massif that prevents Taipei City from sprawling to the sea. Down along the east coast visitors marvel at the almost solid wall of mountains dropping right into the deep Pacific, with only a few narrow plains wedged in here and there. The north-south Coastal Mountain Range is in the far southeast; this line of extinct volcanoes used to lie far out to sea, but area subduction has brought them crashing it Taiwan proper and the main body of its architectural framework, the lofty Central Mountain Range.

This range represents the bulk of the island's bulk, running north-south, with numerous lines of peaks running side by side. Some lines are former ocean-bottom rock from the Eurasian Plate, some the Philippine, pushed up by the latter like a bulldozer scraping the top of the Eurasian slab. Much of Taiwan's flat land lies on her west coast, the base the heaved-up "backside" of the central mountains, upper stratum the layers of silt carried down from the young and still-growing giants.

HOT SPRINGS. THOUGH THERE ARE NO MORE working volcanoes on this section of the Pacific Rim of Fire, the ceaseless subterranean activity means no end to the hot-spring bathing  opportunities. Locations are everywhere, low hills and higher, with facilities from au naturel springs as they've bubbled thousands of years to upscale resorts. The perfect spots to end or begin your days of hard or leisurely hiking.

Getting there. The island's good and still-expanding road system means that for all the most attractive/popular hikes you can indeed easily "get there from here" or at least get close. Your best first step for how-to info is the Tourism Bureau and its detailed website, with valuable links ( www.taiwan.net.tw).

 

Yilan’s Kumquats

Lovely Nanzhuang

The Sea of Flowers in Xinshe Festival

Healthful Eating and Delicious Flavors

The Black King Kong of Yuanchang

From Art Brush to Beauty Brush

A Strange Fruit

The Sound of Drums

Zuoying Wannian Folklore Festival

The Hot Springs of Beitou

Simakusi (Smangus)

Meinong

Water Frolics

Overnighting on the Northeast Coast

Giant Buddha, Old Temples, and Glass Art

Mt. Beidawu

The Most Joyous Thing in the World is Music

Taiwan Fun on the Tropic of Cancer

FUN WITH CHINESE - Men in the Fields during Rain

NK 101 Tea @ Style

Taitung Backpack Bus Trip

The Life of Pi

Taipei’s East District Where the Art of Shopping Is Serious Business

Spring Onion Country Yilan's Sanxing Township Offers Ideal Conditions for Cultivating Scallions

Sandy Beaches, Rocky Coastline, Quiet Country A Whirlwind Tour Round Hengchun Peninsula

What Happened at Wushe

Confucius Day

Keeping It in the Family: I Wan Jan Puppet Theater

Taiwan Has a Unique Culture

Welcoming the Year of the Rabbit and the ROC's 100 Years

All the Flowers You Can Dream Of

Music from the Marshland

Pristine Scenes

Fierce Faces

Following the Tide

A Wonderful World Out There

Off to the Beach and the Rocks

Taiwan’s Easy Rider Goes Into the Wild

HAKKA TUNG BLOSSOM FESTIVAL

Taipei Int'l Flora Expo

HIDDEN HOT SPRINGS & LANDFORMS

JOURNEY into the PAST

YOUNG, GIFTED, AND DEAF

Taiwan's Ultra Man Going Beyond Extreme

Rice by Any Other Name

Taiwan is Beautiful!

TAIPEI EYE

Slate Houses and Mud Rivers

From Fir Formosa

Touring Kaohsiung by KMART

TOURING TAIWAN

Taoyuan HSR Station

Taking Taiwan's Slow Train

Bus Trip to Central Taiwan

Establishing a Beautiful Taiwan

High Mountain Ecology

Exploring High Mountain HighsTaiwan at Her Peaks

Cultural Tourism in Taiwan:What's in It for You?

Getting to Know Taiwan's Indigenous Cultures

Leaving Stress Behind

Taiwan! "Feel Good" Country

Exploring Taiwan's Rural Side

Aboriginal Tribes & Festivals

The Famous Lantern Festival in Taiwan

Night Markets in Taiwan

Great Arts, Culinary Exhibitions and Events in Taiwan's National Palace Museum and Other Places

Mountains in Taiwan

Water Fun in Taiwan

Taiwanese Arts, Arts Festivals and Interesting Artifacts

"Taiwan's Ghost Festival and Other Religious Events"

Dragon Boat Festival

City: The Tallest Building Taipei 101 & Kaohsiung's Love River

National Scenic Area (IV)-Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area, Penghu National Scenic Area, Matsu National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (III)-East Rift Valley National Scenic Area, East Coast National Scenic Area, Maolin National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (II)-Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area, Alishan National Scenic Area, Southwest Coast National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (I)-North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area, Northeast Coast National Scenic Area, Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area

Offshore Islands- Penghu、Kinmen National Park、Matzu、Green Island(Lyudao)、Orchid Island(Lanyu)

Eastern Taiwan- Taroko National Park、East Rift Valley、Rueisuei & Hongye、Jhihben

Southern Taiwan- Alishan、Tainan、Kaohsiung、Dapeng Bay & Little Liouciou、Kenting National Park

Central Taiwan- Miaoli、Taichung、Changhua、Nantou、Yushan National Park

Northern Taiwan -Taipei City、Yangmingshan & Beitou、Danshuei、Wulai、Jioufen & Jinguashih、Yilan、Taoyuan & Hsinchu