About Me

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Yilan, Taiwan
I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Friday, September 14, 2012

River Tracing Virgins

Remember the last time you ever tried something completely unknown for the first time?? You're a little bit clumsy, a little scared and excited. Well I didn't know what to expect about river tracing. I figured it was like rock climbing over river boulders--and there was definitely a lot of that, but there was so much more for me in store. In fact for all of the buddies that I tagged along with, it was also their first time and everyone had their misgivings, expectations.



When I saw my friend Johan's Facebook invitation to go river tracing, I just felt a strong inclination to go and scrambled to find a sitter. Plus the price was reasonable (850NT). With no sitter (short notice), I basically gave up and then my  friend Michael said he could have Z stay the night and watch her the next day. (His kids and Z are beach playmates). I dropped her off at his place late and then woke up bright and early at 530 am. I barely made it at 6 to meet Christine and we found Jason and his girlfriend at this obscure bus stop (not on the street with all the buses) tucked on another street under a Nike store behind an arcade and bought 1 way tickets to Cishan 旗山 (625 am is the first bus).


My cool retro (kid) boots, reminded us of moon boots when we were kids.


Christine went out the night before and had about a hour of sleep so I was impressed-especially by the end of the trip. It was supposed to be a 3-4 hour trek but was more around 6--which I don't mind. Its just that I told Michael that I would pick up my daughter at a certain time and I didn't want to be away from her too long.



We arrived about 745 and met Johan at Cishan's (only?) 7-11 at 8 am. By chance we met this extraordinary Californian guy buying coffee who was meeting some Shaman in town. And this 15 minute exchange was just a serendipitous encounter for me and for Christine (who just finished her MA in Parapsychology). We will be back in Cishan in very near future I think.




The guides picked us up and drove us for about an hour to our river site. After getting on all the gear, we really didn't get started til around 930. It started out calm enough, hiking on rocks by a river. And then it started. There was a little white water and we all lined up to trudge through the current and sit back and enjoy the bumpy, sometimes painful water slide. It was fun, I knocked my elbow good, the water was cool, felt great.

I was really impressed with the competency of the guides, they really knew the river (which happened to be the easiest). They were experts with all the technical aspects, fearless, I had complete trust in them. For me, it was just a matter of feeling comfortable in what my boots could grip onto or not, how slippery is slippery. Rope, helmets and helping hands were all necessary.



Our last "cliff" jump I totally chicked out. Behind that point, there was an incredible Polynesian waterfall, that no one took a picture of (we left our waterproof bags below). I just could not jump, it was so high. Eventually I had to go to a lower point to jump and joked on the way back I "lost  face."  Then there was Jason who was doing back flips off the cliff, he was my hero, they all were. It wasnt until I ripped the back of my beach shorts on a rock that I completely lost whatever face I had left. No but I am just joking, we all had moments when were laughing at ourselves which is not a bad thing.


At the end, we washed ourselves up and the guides prepeared some instant noodles and then we drove back to Cishan and waited a half hour for the next bus to Tainan. I was itching to get back to my daughter. She was totally fine at the beach when I picked her up around 7.

The outfitter is called  Mountain Goat (in Mandarin )"Cross-Country Adventure" and their contact person (and photographer) is June. Their email is yau907@gmail.com, telephone is 0972-006-054. I paid 850NT  for the trip plus another 150NT for them driving me an hour to the river site and back, so I think its a pretty exceptional deal. I am definitely going to do another river tracing adventure with this crew. They have friends all over Taiwan, some from Taipei joined us, so if I want to river trace up north they have the contacts.

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