Standing at the mouth of a great overhanging cave, with a tiny rill of water trickling, half overgrown by thick foliage, down the rocky hillside past its mouth, is a good reminder that even the biggest things often start from small beginnings.
The National Revolutionary Martyrs Shrine(忠烈祠) isn't near the top of any list of Taipei's finest tourist attractions. Indeed, some Taiwanese people dislike this place for the same reason many shun Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.
Zhulin ('bamboo forest') Trail (竹林步道), Jingxue Brook Path (青礐溪步道), and Gouyingchin Old Trail (狗殷勤古道). These three names all refer to a favorite short walk of mine in the southern foothills of Yangmingshan, connecting the valley of the Waishuangsi (外雙溪) and the farming community of Pingdeng Li (平等里) high above.
It's been over six hours of rough walking since we left the trailhead, and we finally meet the first road since the start of the hike.
It's hard at first glance to see anything remotely outstanding about the Taipei suburb of Zhonghe (中和), across the Xindian River to the southwest of Taipei city center.
Sitting on bus R5 en route to Yangmingshan, it's clear we'll be going nowhere fast in the huge tailback that snakes up the road ahead and disappears around the corner, with only a steady stream of scooters beside us going at anything more than a snail's pace.
The solitary line of a narrow, overgrown trail heads off into the distance. Jagged, pointed peaks rise up in front, sheer cliffs of bare rock plunge terrifyingly from the trail into the valley far, far below and fantastic, slowly changing panoramas open up over the unlimited expanses of mountainous country laid out below.
Thanks to the Taiwanese government, which has put a great deal of effort and money into promoting Taiwan's natural splendor over the past few years, it's no longer a great secret that the island is a veritable paradise for outdoor lovers in general, and for walkers in particular., 1 Comment
Glimpses of its emerald surface are one of the highlights of the trip along the old Taipei to Ilan highway (now blissfully quiet, since most traffic between the two counties takes the new highway through the 13 kilometer-long Shueshan Tunnel), yet it's only standing on the bank of this huge, serpentine expanse of water that its great scenic beauty can finally be enjoyed to the full.
About half an hour after leaving Pingsi High School, the trail enters a clearing, and several abandoned buildings and a fenced-off mine shaft entrance lie beside the path.