The weather was beautiful in Taipei on Saturday. I planned to wake up early and get out into nature for the day, and headed to Yangmingshan National Park, an area I hadn’t been to since my first time in this city over a year and a half ago.

My previous trek through the national park was brief–I had no idea where to go and had to head back to Taipei to meet a friend earlier than expected. I at least got to hike a little and see the area around the visitor center, which is worth checking out once.

Welcome to Yangmingshan
Welcome to Yangmingshan

This time around I planned a little better–I decided to hike the tallest peak in the Taipei region at Qixing Mountain. Qixingshan, or Seven Star Mountain, is an inactive volcano that still emits plenty of sulfur fumes (who doesn’t love the aroma of rotten eggs while hiking?). The summit reaches 1,120 meters (3,675 ft)–not nearly the highest peak I’ve hiked, but still a decent trek.

After nearly an hour on the bus (it would take longer, but the bus didn’t make all its stops because no one got off and no one wanted to get on either), I got off at Qixingshan bus stop, figuring that was the easiest spot to start from on my trek up the mountain. I was wrong.

Just off the bus
Just off the bus

There was no trailhead near the bus stop. There was a map that indicated I had a long way to walk to get to the trailhead for Qixingshan. It wasn’t far, but the path toward the visitor center to start the hike was cordoned off, possibly due to damage from the most recent typhoon.

Time to start hiking along the bamboo trail
Time to start hiking along the bamboo trail

While the weather in Taipei was beautiful all day–low 80s, not too humid with a cooling breeze–the weather as I stepped off the bus turned to chilly and cloudy. Well, cloudy isn’t quite the right word here as the clouds were around me. I wouldn’t call it fog either. I was just in the clouds in the mountains. And with the strong wind howling, the clouds moved rapidly around me.

Such a beautiful view...
Such a beautiful view…

I contemplated heading back to Taipei for the pleasant weather, but I had already spent an hour traveling and decided I might as well see if the clouds would dissipate (they didn’t). The higher up the mountain I hiked, the thicker the clouds became.

I still found fellow hikers along the way–people as crazy as I was to hike in such conditions. Of course, those people had light rain jackets; I was wearing a t-shirt. While parts of the hike were strenuous, I didn’t so much sweat as I had condensation form on me–the weather conditions, according to the visitor center, were 17°C and 99% humidity.

We reached the peak of Qixingshan
We reached the peak of Qixingshan

I’m sure the views from Qixingshan are beautiful. But I saw nothing. It was difficult to see more than 20 feet ahead.

On the way down, rather than tempt fate and hike to another peak in the clouds, I headed back toward the main visitor center to catch a bus back to Taipei. Unfortunately, the trail splits a few times along the way–and the direction signs do not say anything about the visitor center. This forced me to ask people heading in the opposite direction for some help (that reminds me, I need to study more Chinese).

The way down was much longer than the way up, which certainly isn’t pleasant for the knees. If I had come prepared, I might’ve stopped at the hot springs in Beitou on the way back home so I could relax and recover. Instead, I headed home and climbed six flights of stairs.

The sulfur fumes were strong along this part of the hike
The sulfur fumes were strong along this part of the hike

As the weather cools in Taiwan, I’ll probably plan a few more hikes–there are still some short hikes around the city that I haven’t yet done. There are also hiking groups that take weekend trips to the more challenging mountains in central Taiwan.

Has the weather ever hampered your outdoor activities? And did you still continue with your plans?

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