Monday, March 29, 2010

A Hike in the Clouds

Last week, Chris and I got to enjoy the comforting presence of our last visitors from the U.S. while we are in Taiwan. My sister, her fiancĂ©, and their friend stayed with us for several days to experience life in Taipei. Unfortunately, they largely had to serve as their own tour guides as our spring break doesn’t come until next week. We did, however, make the most of our evenings together by highlighting some of our favorite restaurants and introducing their senses (olfactory, though not gustatory) to the famed stinky tofu. The weekend was the high point since we were able to spend more time together.

We planned to spend Saturday hiking up a mountain just outside of the city. Living in a city whose annual rainfall is about 83 inches, we were more than a little concerned that it might rain on our parade. We were delighted, however, when we woke up to some of the bluest skies we have seen since we lived here. Enjoying our direct dose of vitamin D, we headed out to Yang Ming Shan. When we arrived, we wandered into the visitor’s center where a helpful Taiwanese woman directed us to the path we wanted. Since Yang Ming Shan is a national park, it is laced with all sorts of trails with varying degrees of difficulty. One trail sparked our interest as it led to the top of the highest peak in Taipei. Boasting an underwhelming 1120 meters (3654 feet), we still felt the uncontrollable pull to summit the tallest natural thing around. All of us being relatively active and accustomed to hiking in the Colorado Rockies, we expected to have a quick jaunt up the mountain, snap a few photos, skip down the other side, and get some lunch. Yang Ming Shan, on the other hand, had other plans.

We started out full of confidence and warmed by the sunshine. We chatted cheerfully about some of the interesting “cultural experiences” that Tori, Matt, and Andrea had had since their arrival on the island. We waited patiently for the stairs that we assumed were leading us to the trail to end. The thing is, they didn’t. Meter after meter, step after step, the rocky staircase became steeper and steeper as it channeled us up the mountain. Eventually, we each swallowed a nice big piece of humble pie and sat down on a bench to take a break. It was at that point that we noticed the cooling weather. At that point, the chilling breeze felt good on our sweat-drenched faces. Revived, we once again began our ascent. However, we noticed that the temperature began to fall precipitously as clouds rolled in to cover the clear blue sky.

As we neared the peak, the fog eerily wafted through the trees and chilled our hands and faces. When we finally made it to the top, we could barely see ten feet in front of us. Laughing through chattering teeth, we took a few photos of the would-be scenery. We descended the rocky steps as quickly as we could and dreamed of the all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue restaurant we had planned for our post-hike meal. Since the hike turned out to be more difficult than we anticipated, lunch became linner. The timing actually worked out well for us since the restaurant was relatively empty even though it was Saturday. While we weren’t sure if it was possible at the 3654 ft. summit, we finally thawed out and had our fill to eat. I’m pretty sure I know who came out ahead of that all-you-can-eat meal.

1 comment:

Tori said...

Ha great pictures and words... lovely memory.