Songluo Lake – 松羅湖
September 28, 2009 by Stu
Songluohu 松羅湖 is a kind of swampy lake set in a small basin and surrounded by mountains on all sides. It’s a tremendously beautiful place and in some ways very similar to Jialuohu 加羅湖 which is also in Yilan. They are both great places to hike and camp and both can easily be done in a weekend.
We set off on Saturday morning and took the number 9 towards Yilan. It’s a great road to drive on, especially since most of the Taipei to Yilan traffic now goes through the Xueshan tunnel. And the views of the Yilan plain towards the end of the road are spectacular (weather permitting!).
After a quick pit stop in Yilan City we cracked on and got to the township of Yulan 玉蘭 on the number 7 at around midday. From here we followed the Benjue road 本覺路 up and past the Yulan tea flieds. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop here but next time I’m in the area I’ll definitely go back. The tea placewe passed had tables set up in the fields and it looked like a good place to chill out drink tea and enjoy the views of the valley below. Towards the end, the road condition began to deteriorate but we made it up on the motorbikes and at around 600m, we parked up next to the entrance to the trail.
The path is obvious throughout and very easy to follow, however, it isn’t always that easy going! We started up the stairs and passed a couple of people coming down. They were covered in mud and said that the trail was ‘bu hao zou’. Almost immediately after, the paved stairs gave way to mud and thick bush. We were slipping all over the place and each took a tumble or two!
After ten about minutes we came out of the bush and back into the forest. The trees kept changing between tropical forest and pine and there was plenty of wildlife around with Neil getting a little peckish.
At about halfway we, somewhat bizarrely, came to a tap with running water and filled up our empty bottles. I don’t know whether the water is potable or not so we just used it for cooking later on that evening.
After about four hours of hiking through the lush forest, the trail began to really steeply rise up the mountainside and it became much more difficult. There were a few small landslides to cross and a couple of ropes to climb up but after half an hour or so we got up to the highest point; a saddle between two small peaks. From there we followed a dry river down to the lake side.
The hike took a little longer than we had anticipated and so we quickly got to setting up camp. The tents were just about ready when the wind picked up and we had to abandon our original site and go in search of somewhere more sheltered. We eventually settled on the far side of the lake in a patch of dry yellow grass.
It got dark quickly and after eating, we messed around taking photos in the dark. For a brief while the stars came out and in the moon light the lake looked particularly beautiful. Feeling tired after a tough day’s hiking, we went to sleep early. However our sleep was interrupted when the heavens opened and it began to pour down. The noise of the rain and the lightening was unbelievable but apparently my snoring was louder!At about 5am, I woke to what sounded a lot like a river. Thinking it impossible as there was no river, we dismissed it as the just noise of the wind. I then rolled over only to find that the side and bottom of the tent were completely soaked. Sleepily climbing out of the tent we were then surprised to find the lake was now only a metre away and a river had appeared next to our camping spot!
Packing in a hurry, we didn’t get time for breakfast and only just got the tent down before the lake waters reached us. The walk back was a lot tougher in the rain. The saddle we crossed to get to the lake had turned into a river and it took about 5 hours to haul ourselves back to the car park.
Next time I’m checking the CWB
more thoroughly before heading out!