Miantianshan Summit – Facing Heaven Mountain

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Cheated a bit on this one and took a taxi about halfway up the mountain to Qingtian temple to start the hike. No matter; it’s pretty rare to BEGIN a hike with these kinds of views overlooking Taipei. Much nicer than an unmarked trailhead along a winding side street.

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I also got a good look at Guanyinshan, which I had hiked the week before. Didn’t look daunting from right underneath, but from further away it’s fairly impressive. You can find my Guanyinshan write-up here.

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Are there stairs, you ask? Yes, dummy, there are stairs. We’re hiking in Taiwan, after all. The lower parts of the hike run past some small farms and houses. A bit higher up, you’ll find some abandoned buildings hiding off the trail.

Eventually the trail levels out, but you’re only halfway there. There’s this small pond I took an awful picture of and some stone walls I neglected completely. Maybe Dina got some better shots.

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You also get your first view of the summit.

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Head left at the marker for Miantian Summit and start up the stairs again. This part of the trail was fairly busy with hikers coming and going. The stairs here get narrower and a bit more steep so be wary of other hikers and watch your footing.

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As you reach higher elevations, the flora changes somewhat. The trees are less dense and you’ll see new plants like this Cyathea Lepifera, or Flying Spider-Monkey tree fern. Fantastic name. Apparently the fronds are edible and look like money arms in their budding period.

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Eventually, you’ll be above the trees altogether and the trail turns to the long, tall grass you find at the top of many mountains in northern Taiwan. It was windy Saturday and the clouds swirled furiously through this little valley.

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The view from the top. Sadly hazy, but at least there were blue skies and no threat of rain.

Rather than push on and do the loop to Xiangtianshan and the pond beyond, my partner suggested we pack it in for the day and head back the way we came. There’s a good write-up of the full trek here. Got some practice in with my new DSLR, the Pentax K-S2. I carried it in hand all day and found it very comfortable to hike with. The photos still suck, but hey, I’m learning. All my pictures from this hike were taken in Auto mode because I’m still not sure what the hell I’m doing.

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