The last time I did this hike, on a blisteringly hot day back in June, I already felt it was one of the finest hikes in the Taipei area. Returning here again on the first weekend of fine weather to bless these parts in over two months, I’m absolutely certain there’s no finer hike within easy day-trip reach of the capital. Now’s the time to see it: it’s wonderful in summer, but when the ocean of silver grass that covers the steep slopes come into bloom in October and November, it’s absolutely breathtaking.
I wrote up the trip in another blog (http://taiwandiscovery.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/teapot-mountain-and-mt-banping-taipei-countys-most-spectacular-hiking-country/) on this marvellous hike, so I’ll be brief this time, and put in a few photos from the trip.
Since Jinguashi fills up first on weekends, especially on the rare occasions it’s not raining here, we made an early start of it, but shortly after beginning the long drudge from the Gold Ecological Park up towards Benshan Mine, the skies darkened, and it began raining. Not a good omen. Happily, the clouds lightened in just a few minutes, the sun peered through, and we were treated to a faint rainbow, outlining almost exactly the domed bulk of Keelung Mountain.
The silver grass already made a fine show, with Teapot Mountain (the last summit on our hike) standing out picturesquely against the thick cloud behind.
The trail to Mt Caiguangliao (the highest point in the Mt Keelung group), always the toughest, most interesting part of this hike, was particularly overgrown today, since few groups had been through for awhile, given the terrible weather of the past weeks, but once through the worst of the head-high silver grass and up the steep, slippery mud banks, the view opened out; the weather, which at first seemed to be going downhill, was doing us proud!
An early lunch on the summit was sabotaged by a group of bees that didn’t want us there. A sting each was enough to set us moving on down the far side, although the angry bugs continued buzzing around us for some time before we shook them off. For once, however, the summit isn’t the only part of the hike with a good view. The panoramic view along the whole upper portion of the trail is tremendous!
Back on the wide trails again, we made for the impressive ridge of Mt Banping, which manages to be rocky and rough and have awesome views, while being easy hiking.
Damn! my Lumix point-and-shoot, always unreliable focus-wise, now seems to take hardly a single sharp shot; must be the many months of miss-use it’s received. Days like this I wish I had a better camera….
Caught in a traffic jam at the top of the rock face where the trail drops off the summit ridge of Mt Banping on its way to Teapot Mountain. Some of the many hikers in front of us were having a lot of trouble here, despite the fact that it’s one of the easiest trail rock faces to negotiate that I know of. Hope they never get taken to Zhongyangjian….
And finally on to Teapot Mountain. The slopes below the craggy ridge of Mt Banping are carpeted in a magnificent ocean of silver grass flowers. Teapot Mountain presents its craggiest face from this side. Luckily it’s easy to climb to the platform just below the summit. Getting to the very top of the rock is a much harder proposition, so we didn’t even try.
The walk back down to Jinguashi is easy and uneventful, but it’s a balmy afternoon, and the weather is getting even better, so we decide to top off this memorable hike with dessert. Next destination, a quick hike up Mt Keelung….