February 2003. VOL.3 ISSUE 2
"Big Frozen Mountain"
Translated by Irene Wang ¨L¾Ð¦p
People don¡¦t think
of Tainan County as mountainous, but the area¡¦s highest peak,
Dadongshan, is a surprisingly lofty 1,432 meters ¡V taller
than any mountain in the British Isles. Dadongshan translates
as ¡§Big Frozen Mountain,¡¨ but it never snows here, and is
seldom cold. The area makes for very pleasant day hiking,
with the possibility of longer, overnight hikes.
people in Tainan City, where I live, seemed to know about
this mountain, but by the time we got to the hot springs area
of Guantzling, we found that most people we talked to knew
how to get to the trailhead.
followed a well-marked road past the Red Leaf Elementary School,
and then a sizable temple, to a little Earth God shrine where we
started our hike.
first section of the path is actually a farming road, paved in places
and certainly navigable by jeep or motorcycle. Walking is much more
pleasant, though, and gives you a chance to properly enjoy the surroundings.
The lower part is lined by thin arrow bamboo, which grows tall overhead
and bows over the road, giving not only shade but also the lovely
sound that bamboo leaves make when they are rustled by a warm breeze.
Higher up the arrow bamboo gives way to thicker species of bamboo
and betel-nut trees.
different kinds of butterflies and insects can be seen hereabouts,
and the relentless drone of traffic and city noise that is
almost inescapable in Taiwan mercifully disappeared as we
climbed higher. We were only 45 minutes away from Tainan City
but it felt like we could be days away. The farming road passes
two wooden pagodas, both of which afford great views of Guantzling,
and could be great vantage points for the sunrise.
passing the second pagoda, we took a small footpath that heads
off to the left and into the forest. Ropes have been fixed
along this stretch ¡V useful for less sure-footed hikers,
but probably unnecessary for most people. In fact, this part
can be avoided, and the summit still attained, if you stay
on the road and turn left at a white building.
before the peak there is a pleasantly shaded rest area complete
with a bamboo shelter, cement tables and chairs. This would be an
excellent spot to pitch a tent or enjoy a barbeque.
took us two hours of fairly steady hiking to reach the summit. The
peak itself is somewhat disappointing. In a small clearing there¡¦s
a weather station, a rather interesting but dilapidated structure,
and restricted views of Guantzling. I had hoped to be able to see
Tzengwen Reservoir, but trees to the east precluded that.
hike back down to the car took less than an hour. Throughout
our mid-week hike we had encountered only two other day-trippers,
plus a few farmers. On weekends this area is often crowded,
and locals set up stands selling snacks and refreshments.
is a trail from Dadongshan to near Tzengwen Reservoir. According
to a sign, this hike takes almost five hours. A circular hike
taking in Jiulongshan is also possible.
to Guantzling and Dadongshan has never been easier now that
the Second Southern Freeway is open; residents of Chiayi should
be able to get from the city to the trailhead in less than
half an hour.