This is a trip that I had been meaning to make for sometime and, like so many of my ideas, I just hadn’t got round to doing it but finally Chinese new year gave me the opportunity to get up off my arse and go.Jiaminghu is a lake in the south of Taiwan, in Taidong county. It was first thought that the lake was created by a meteor strike, but it turns out that it is actually a tarn left over from the ice age and was created around 6-7000 years ago. The lake is elliptical in shape and is actually quiet deep (10m) at the deepest point. My original plan included swimming in the lake but temperatures barely getting above zero put that idea to rest!
We set off from Taipei on Wednesday morning and took the train to Chishang (池上), famous for it’s biandang (便當). From Chishang we hired a car and driver to take us to Xiangyang 向陽. A mis-communication (I messed up) meant that instead of a minibus, we had a normal car for seven of us, making for an interesting two hour drive!
We decided to spend the first night camping at Xiangyang while we acclimatised to the altitude and sorted out the permit for the hike with the police. If you walk back down the road about 50m, there’s a car park/helipad from which you can get a great view of the sea of clouds that Xiangyang is famous for.
The next day we set off on the trail and heading for the Jiamnighu hut. The trail is really well maintained and signposted, and isn’t too hard going. We made it to the Xiangyang cabin at about 11am and had a chat with some of the hikers coming down and they told us that there was no water at the Jiaminghu hut so we had to carry it all up from there.
On the way up we passed the Xiangyang famous tree and an enormous landslide. At a fork in road we dropped our packs and hiked to the Xiangyangshan peak (3602m). This is the hightest point any of us had been to before and the views were great.
After coming back down, we continued on to the Jiaminghu hut and spent the night there.
Some of us got up early for a chilly but beautiful sunrise (-3C) and then we cooked breakfast.
The weather looked great in morning but by the time we set off the conditions had deteriorated. It was blowing and gale and absolutely freezing cold. After a bit of slog we made it to the peak of Sanchashan but we couldn’t see anything for the clouds and wind. We just took some quick pictures and started the descent towards the lake.
Arriving at the lake I was a bit disappointed at first, it was so cloudy you barely see it! However after an hour the mist parted and we got some great views, especially from the over the opposite side of the lake where we could see Xinkangshan.
The rest of this day was spent retracing our steps back to the Xiangyang hut where we spent the night.
A very lazy day. Got up and drank a boatload of coffee. We were all knackered after being woken up by another group leaving at 3am and at about 10am we headed down back to Xiangyang. The driver turned up with a bigger car, thank God! And we managed to get some beers for the trip down.
The hike starts at Xiangyang on the southern cross highway. There used to be a bus but that has been canceled and so you need to hire a driver and car or find your own transport. There is a taxi company in Chishang and were it not CNY they would have been willing to take us there however I have no idea how much that would cost.
Permits are required for this hike and that can be done at the police station at Xiangyang. You’ll need a route plan, map and name list in triplicate (no joke).
The Xiangyang cabin is excellent. It has a water source (check before heading up) and is well protected from the elements. The Jiaminghu cabin is a little rougher. The water source there is unreliable and is much more exposed. However it is still a good place to rest and keep warm.