Up a very BIG BIG BIG Mountain 雪山 ~ spelt variously as Syue or Shei or Xue or Hsueh Shan (translates as Snow Mountain), the second highest in Taiwan ~ 3886 m (12,749 ft)
4 days, 3 nights…..
Honoured to have been invited by the very lovely Head of the branch of the neighbouring Junior High School (where I often go to teach a bit of English)… she and her extended family …. 10 of us altogether including her 2 children aged 10 and 13, plus a wonderful guide (who organised all the cooking with his assistant) ~ and praise God, we all made it to the top in one piece, and back again! The photo of us by the minibus shows everyone gathered to send us off…
Changed the original dates to 2 days earlier, as climbing is not a case of just arriving and starting off ~ everyone has to apply for a permit and notify the National Park people of their schedule… it is all highly organised, and you take the dates you are given…
Prayed and prayed for God’s protection and blessing, especially on the weather….. the ‘tropical development’ (weather-speak for ‘maybe a typhoon is coming’) fortunately did not materialise, but we had a low-pressure area over Taiwan instead ~ very unsettled weather with heavy rainstorms was forecast…… and yes it rained in big bursts, but each time we were already inside a shelter! Only in the last hour and last few km of descent did we actually get rained on, and even then only part of our group. Our advance party (including the 10 year old) stayed dry virtually the whole time. And fog, fog and more fog came rolling in, and then rolled out again, just in time for us to see the view ~ only a day earlier and a group we met had seen zero anything from the top, it was all fog. So God’s blessing very very evident to all!
Monday 5 hours in a minibus east to Ilan then to Wuling Farm (武陵農場) run by the Government’s Veterans Affairs Dept originally as a place to help veterans settle…. And the mountain trail starts there…
Monday afternoon: 2 hours climb up to Chi Ka Mountain Hut (七卡山莊) at 2463m ~ saw flying squirrel and met lots of other climbers starting out too…
Tuesday up very early to climb 5 hours, via 雪山東峰 East Peak 3201m (that’s me in the photo in the pink shirt!) to 3-6-9 Mountain Hut (三六九山莊) at 3150m. Total so far 7.1km. Wonderful forests, views and more views…. feels like we’re getting near the top of the world!
Wednesday very early morning up at 2:00am to leave at 3:00am! Temperatures now down to 8 degrees C ~ headlights on, and off we go, up and up and up, though the White Forest of silver firs, then the Black Forest of dark firs (felt like Harry Potter world in the pitch black with all those massive dark trees!) then out above the tree line and into the early morning sunshine. STUNNING!
Upper slopes all glaciated in the dim and distant past, and covered in… guess what? EDELWEISS! Everywhere, tons of the stuff ~ just like out of the Sound of Music. Expected Julie Andrews to appear any moment and burst into song!
Staggered to the top at about 8:00am, watched the mist and fog roll in as we arrived, then clear, then come back again! Views of the whole world above the clouds, AMAZING!
Total: 10.9km climb in distance and approx 1,800m climb in height… and then back down again, all in one day, to reach the Trailhead at 6:30pm.
Met tons and tons of people, but no foreigners, asked the National Park man at the Trailhead ~ he told me that western people often come and climb, but never in big groups, always alone or in 2’s or occasionally 3’s. “Why”, he asked me, “do western people like to do everything on their own?” So any answers you guys?!
Night at Wuling Farm, our first showers since we started out, and so nice to sleep in a real bed…… zzzzzzzzzzzz
Lunch on the way home yesterday a celebratory affair ~ in more ways than one! See that photo of us all in the restaurant toasting our success? Well the background music playing at the time was a CD of Christmas Carols ~ we had Silent Night, Joy to the World and Away in a Manger ~ yes I know it is mid-July, but hey God had blessed us throughout the whole journey, so what better music to accompany our celebratory meal!
Arrived home, and a few hours later the world’s biggest thunderstorm arrived with a vengeance ~ lightning and thunder and torrential rain. Just to put things in perspective, and remind us of our smallness and God’s greatness!
And so to today ~ stagger stagger stagger, groan groan groan, stiff stiff stiff, ahhhhhhh my legs!
PS: phoned the bishop last night, and my opening line was: “Bishop, you have the most beautiful country in the WHOLE WORLD!”