27-Dec-2009 -- In 1997 I (Tamai) had a 3-day hiking to Yuliu Mountain. I arrived the triangulation point of Meinaitian Mountain and camped one night next to the point. However, I gave up the trip eventually because of a heavy overnight rain.
After 12 years, my friends Koi, Baki, and I decided to continue this unfinished trip in 4 days and 5 nights. This time we did not take the standard approach, Yanping forest road all the way up. We planned to leave the forest road at 28K and take a shortcut to the main peak of Meinaitian Mountain via the east ridge line.
We met on December 24th, 2009 in Kaohsiung and directly headed to Taitung County. After one night stay at Longtain Village, Yanping Township, we passed Hongyeh Village and entered the Yanping forest road next morning. In 1997, the Yanping forest road was accessible by car all the way to the work station at 48K. However, it was only accessible to 28.5K in February 2009. The typhoon Morakot in August 2009 caused more damages to the forest road. Now the forest road is well-paved by 17K.
The next morning on December 25th we stopped by the police station at 10K to check the mountain permits and parked our car at 19K where the road ground already collapsed. The weather was wet and foggy. We started hiking from 10 am along the forest road and arrived the trail head of the east ridge at 28K around 1:30 pm. We met a few indigenous hikers of Bunun tribe here and asked them about the conditions of the east ridge. Unfortunately they had no idea about it. After a short lunch break, we started hiking again at 2:30 pm carrying 15 liters of water. It was raining and the ground was muddy. It is not easy to hike up with heavy loads in the broad-leaf forest, especially without roads or trails. We moved forward depending on direction only. Sometimes the animal trails helped. We took 1.5 hours long to ascend 250 meters only. We found a big fallen Taiwan red cypress good for camping before it turned dark (1900 meters). That night the rain never stopped. We all got a lot of leech bites from neck to hands.
We woke up at 7 am on December 26th. It was still raining. The road condition was getting better. Baki set up two recorders at 1920 meters and 2650 meters respectively to record the sounds of wild animals for a research project. The road became steeper but easier after 2100 meters because no Wooly grass or Kunishi cane ahead. The broad-leaf forest gradually disappeared while red cypress, ceda, red pine, hemlock and spruce started to appear. The forest along the east ridge escaped from the tortures of lumbering. It looked intact and spectacular. Ceda and spruce taller than 50 meters are everywhere. A nightmare came after 2600 meters. Wooly grass and Kunishi cane became tall and dense. We also found several weathered white trees. Probably Taiwan hemlock appeared as the secondary forest after a forest fire long time ago. We followed the trails of Sambar deer to move forward. Their body size is wide enough to make some space. However they are not tall enough so that sometimes we have to cut through the grass with mountain knife or crawled across the grass with our heavy backpacks. We arrived the triangulation point of Meinaitian Mountain at 4 pm, the place I already visited 12 years ago. We camped at the 3-fork ridge of the north peak. This place is several meters lower than the triangulation point but the wind is stronger.
We started hiking to north peak on December 27th from 8 am. We still followed the trails of Sambar deer. The distance from the campsite to the north peak is only 1 kilometer. We enjoyed the spectacular view of high mountains with red pine, ceda, juniper, Kunishi cane, and Wooly grass on the way. Only Taiwan hemlock appeared on the north peak. Its amount might be more than that of Beidawu Mountain. After a short break on the highest point, we started to go down along the ridge. The ridge is steep but not difficult. We found lots of animal tracks around this area. We quickly descended from 2950 meters to 2650 meters. Then Red cypress, ceda and spruce appeared again. We walked through a coniferous and broadleaf mixed forest and successfully arrived Yuliu Mountain (2390 meters) after 1.5 hours. The triangulation point of Yuliu Mountain was in bad shape. Its ground base half eroded and the underground post exposed. Someone tried to hold the shaky post with steel wire.
The confluence is only 300 meters away from here, but 100 meters lower. The north-west ridge is not steep and the dense forest is easy to cross. We took only 15 minutes to get to the point. There were lots of tall trees around here. The GPS error was estimated between 6 to 8 meters. We used two Garmin 60CSx GPS simultaneously to locate the exact number, N23,00,00.0 and E121,00,00.0. It took us 20 minutes to take a clear photo shot for this reading. The point is next to a Taiwan red cypress. We happily took a group picture right at the point. Mission accomplished.
We took 2 hours back to the north peak and another 1 hour to the same campsite on Meinaitian Mountain at 4 pm. We spent the second night here in strong winds. December 28th is the day to come back home. The backpack was lighter and the road condition was no longer unclear, but we still got lost several times in the dense grass. We took 3 hours to the campsite under the big fallen tree. It started to rain again. We have not taken off our raincoats in the past 4 days. After a short break here, we finished the last steep slope and descended 1300 meters to the trail head. Homesickness made us walked 9 kilometers (28K to 19K) along the forest road in 2 hours under the rain. We had dinner in Chulu. I arrived home at 10 pm. Baki and Koi headed north to Taichung. What a great point hunting!