25-Feb-2006 -- We planned to visit this confluence for some time but the weather kept pushing the date until we reached the last possible weekend for Damien who was going back to Japan. We had only three days to do it, starting from Taipei, which needless to say was close to impossible. As it is a good chance to make another recon mission we decided to try anyway. The weather forecast was still below average (cloudy with strong probability of rain).
The first day, Friday 24th, was spent reaching the small village at the foot of the hills. We also wished to explore the 42km dirt road that would lead us as close as 3km from the confluence. Finding the beginning of the small road was easy but stying on it proved a bit difficult and we lost some precious time on narrow and in fact dangerous dead-ends. Hint for the next explorers: the weather forecast panel and other typical indications for hikers show the beginning of the path. The road to the confluence is regularly marked with poles every 500m: 1, 1.5, 2,...[km] which is useful not to get lost. As the previous attempt mentioned the path is surprisingly well tended and we wonder what is its real purpose. Still, some places are very tricky and we have to leave Ludvig (the driver) alone in the car to get those 2-3 more cm of ground clearance that we need to pass the cracked concrete of the road.
The weather at this point was very cloudy with bits or rain here and there. As we climbed up the sunset approached and our visibility got more and more limited. To complicate things a bit further we had to face a serious fog starting from 1300m as we have reached the low-level clouds. Shortly after sunset we reach the point where the previous expedition had stopped, at an altitude of around 1600m. The "paved" road stops here. We continue for one more kilometer before stopping: the fog is far too dense (visibility of 4-5m maximum) to navigate safely on this small road. Back in Luye we learn that the weather forecast tomorrow is as bad as today.
The next day we wake up somewhat early, discouraged by the bad forecast. It turns out that the weather sunny, but it did not last very long. This time at least we did not get lost. We passed a few hikers who were too shy to risk their car so high (granted, they were stopped by a big bump in the road that our car barely passed). Shortly after the point where we stopped yesterday we are again blocked by another surprise: a large mud pit on the crest of the mountain. Yves and Damien think the car can (definitely) make it but Ludvig is more skeptical. Since it's his car we let him decide and after realizing that we may have to do this again on the way back and in the fog we decide to leave the car and continue on foot. This was at km 17 or so on the road. At this point we know that we won't reach the confluence but let's go exploring anyway!
The road is still well tended after the muddy section and the walk is pleasant. We did spot a few monkeys and many small spiders that hang their web in the middle of the road, 4m away from any tree (watch your head!). Although the road was not really going up we are now in the fog and can't see any landscape at all besides the jungle on each side of the road.
In a turn we spot a few marks on trees and a shotgun shell. Hunters. That might be the reason of this path! We leave the road and dive in the forest, following the hunter's trail. The forest is very similar to a European wood and quite different from a real jungle. After passing a few places which obviously were camps (beer bottles, fires,...) we reach a abandonned tent (or what's left of it) and go back to the main road. This small trip is quite encouraging because it seems that 'normal' forests and jungle share this region. We imagine that more forests will be found as we go higher. If this is the case the confluence could be reached much more easily that we thought. We take a lunch break shortly after and continue our progression.
After some more time on the road we are completely surrounded by fog. That must have been around km 22 on the road. Without any nice landscape in sight and no chance to gather good intelligence we decide not to go further. We checked the GPS and were now 7.98km from the confluence. There was 10 to 20 km of road ahead of us depending on the path choosen to reach the CP. Then it's the jungle for 4-5 km. We'll be back!
Some information that may be useful for the next expeditions...
- Given the kind of road you will need a small 4x4, as mentionned by the previous expedition. In dry weather a car may be enough but it's risky. The best solution would be to rent all terrain bikes (just in case a portion of the road is gone, something quite frequent in Taiwan).
- From the beginning of the small road you will need 2-4 hours to reach the KM42, a good starting point for a walk to the confluence.
- Some waypoints of interest:
- Point where we left the car: N22.55.404-E121.02.231
- The hunter's trail starts at N22.55.833-E121.01.728
- The closest we were to the confluence: N22.56.145-E121.02.106 (7.98KM GPS distance)
We have found two routes that may lead you to the confluence. These were established using aerial photos, satellite photos and a topo map.
Route 1: using the path that starts at KM42 on the dirt road, climb to a nearby summit. Then follow the crest to another summit and from there go down to the confluence. This road is interesting because it has 2km on a marked hiking trail. However, be warned that a return ticket to the confluence will cost you a total of 1700m of height difference. A good point: there is a hut at KM 43 that can be used as a basecamp. It is probably open in season but you should bring your sleeping bags.
Route 2: from a bent in the dirt road (extreme N-E), follow the iso-altitude lines until you reach the confluence. This trip is as long as the first one, but has only 300-400m of height difference. There may be problems in the first half with rocky outcrops and excessive slopes though. The hut at KM 43 can still be used but is 8-10 km away.
More information (maps,...) upon request...