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.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Above the clouds: New Years Day in Taipingshan

Snow in Taiwan!

My New Year's Eve was mellow. I was in bed on the 31st by 10 pm. My life here in Yilan M-F is exhausting. Come Friday night I am passed out on my sofa if I didn't make it to my bed. But the early bird gets the worm and we were up and out the door early January 1st on our way to Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area- the closest park to the more popular and photogenic Taroko National Park.

My friend AJ drove which was a relief because once in the park, there was zero visibility as we climbed the mountain road switchback in a permanent cloud. We literally couldn't see more than 15-20 feet, it was a bit scary as local drivers are not as safety oriented- no light and as fast as possible. We passed a few accidents and had a few close calls.

Finally after reaching higher altitude, maybe after 22 km on the main  (and only) park road, we drove above the clouds and the views were glorious. We got out at the first trail to stretch our legs, it was an easy 20 minute walk, not much of a hike along an ancient, twisted train track dating back to the cypress logging days.

Train wreck! Love the moss and the view from there are glorious mountains as far as the eye can see.

We continued driving further into the park, past the lake where all the people were and hit an outer trail- Beech Trail. It started our fairly flat the first hour and then descended straight down. The return meant coming back on an almost vertical ascent, but that part had steps. It provided a good workout and lovely views of the clouds rolling below us in and out of the curves of Prussian Blue mountain ranges.

We ended our day when it quickly started getting dark, like around 4:30. We decided to try our luck at the hot springs near the entrance. Having been here before we knew the parking lot is small and we wanted to chance getting a private outdoor pool. Knowing it was a holiday weekend, we drove in and were stopped by traffic. It took about 10 minutes to get into the parking lot which was full and had several big buses from Taipei taking up a lot of room, and probably pools. Still we found a space in the dirt parking lot they carved out near the river below, We got lucky and a private outdoor "Family" pool was available in 40 minutes- just enough time to refuel on surprisingly good food and a cup of super strong coffee.

Our private room, the outdoor view was more like a giant window letting the dark forest at night.

The hot spring water was piping hot, we had to add more cold water, but soon were soaking away our body blues from both sitting in the car too long and from the exertion from our hike. It was perfect and the 50 minutes for 1000NT went by too soon. 

We made it back to Yilan and had enjoyed the rest of our 4 day New Years weekend, chillaxing and eating out. Actually I can't remember what we did, 17 days ago seems like another season after the week I had.....to be continued.

Lofty dreams for 2015 inspired by standing on the pinnacle of a colossal view 

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