Monday, July 20, 2015

Zhuilu Old Trail (錐麓古道) hiking [Taiwan Day 687: Till Zhuilo Do Us Part - July 19, 2015]


I have already done a lot of hiking in Taiwan. Each hike is memorable and has their own story. I picked oranges from an orchard in Guanyinshan while many were talking about the waterfall trail in Sandiaoling. How about the rewarding view of Taipei City from the top of Qixingshan? But there is this one hiking trail in Taiwan that will let you think twice before going. You might fall on a cliff and die.













We were required to present two permits in hiking the Zhuilo Old Trail. We need one from the Visitor Center and the other one from the police station. As foreigners, my Travel Buddies and I were also required to present our passports as proof of our identity. Kristine (Filipino) was too excited about this trip and also Jason (Indonesian), Anissa (French) and Clara (French). Too bad for Gian (Filipino)! His foot was swelling that he could not join the hike.
 


We left Liwu Hostel at 7:30am and we waited for the Taiwan Tour Bus. Within a few minutes the tourist bus came and the ride gave us a nice view of Taroko National Park. There was a little confusion as to where the Zhuilo Old Trail starts. We alighted at the Lushui stop and looked for the Cimu Bridge. We need to find the trail entrance before 9am or else we won't be allowed to hike. We arrived on time and we saw a man guarding the entrance of the trail. We were then asked for our permits and passports.
 








The small wooden gate was opened and a rocky trail welcomed us. It was not an easy ascend as you have to hold for cables or you might lose your balance and fall into the cliff. Kristine even joked while hiking. She said that it was a nice thing that we already did the river trekking yesterday. We already have our practice hike! One just have to remember that the risk of dying in Zhuilo Old Trail increases when it rains. The trail becomes slippery and rock falls might occur.
 







The total length of the trail is 10.3 kilometers which starts either from Cimu Bridge or in Swallow Grotto. And it's not for first-time hikers! Also, add the fact that walking along the Zhuilo cliffs is so dangerous. The cliff walls are composed of uneven sharp rocks and one stone can fall on your head. Ouch! There even came a point that I have to release my hand in holding the cables . The cable wraps so tightly to the walls of the cliff that there is no more space for my fingers. I released my hand for a few seconds while I carefully walk along the very narrow cliff trail.
 










Only 96 people are allowed to hike the trail everyday and we met some of them along the way. There was this Taiwanese guy who grew up in Australia while a limping lady caused a traffic jam. The trail was narrow and bypassing her was impossible. Jason and I have to think of a way to bypass here. I uttered a few Filipino words and when she heard it she gave us the way immediately.
 















A few markers explain the history of the Zhuilo Old Trail. It used to be a trading route for the aboriginal people of Taiwan. When the Japanese came to invade Taiwan, the aboriginals resisted causing Japan to build police stations along the trail. It was also interesting to know that the “rest” stations along the trail were the former locations of the police stations. One blogger even said that it was the Japanese who expanded the width of the trail from the original 30 cm.
 









I really enjoyed hiking this trail. I still remember that very steep portion with large rocks. I was holding the cables with all of my might as I make a selfie. As I climbed over the big rocks, I said a little message to my beloved Formosa. My dear Taiwan, I will continue hiking your mountains no matter what happens till Zhuilo do us part.
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