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River tracing and hot spring in Taiwan
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Jang-Tian Shieh
(syoten) - MLife

Locale: Taiwan
River tracing and hot spring in Taiwan on 01/07/2010 02:37:31 MST Print View

Taiwan is an island country in the south of Japan. Some people mix up us with Thailand, and some people thought we belong to China. Actually, we are a small country with our own government and president. There are nice mountains and rivers here. The highest peak in Taiwan is Mt. Jade, which is 3952 meters high. We call it Yushan.

There is an activity very popular in Taiwan which is similar to canyoning. When hiking along the river in the direction of countercurrent, we sometimes need to swim across deep pools with high-speed stream, sometimes need to climb waterfall, and sometime bushwhacking to overcome too difficult terrains and rappel to go back to the riverbed. We call this activity “river tracing”, which I think is come from Japan. The reason that this activity is popular in Taiwan may because the rivers here are generally steep and not too big resulting in many challenging topography. Actually, this activity requires ropes and many other gears, so it is difficult to be ultralight. However, this is why we need to go lighter to carry those heavy and necessary equipments.

In the 3 days New Year holidays, I visited this river again. We discovered many hot spring outcrops in this river previously and didn’t show them to the public where they are. This time we canyoning to this secret place. I think we can only get this palce in winter since the water may become too high in other seasons.

My girlfriend is always the one who carries the smallest pack. That's why I need to go ultralight. On the last day I even have to pack her pack on my pack. This time she carried older version golite ion. outside the pack is a life vest.

This mountain area is damp and usually misty. We hike from about 2000 meters high to 1200 meters high. The temperature is about 45F~53F.

Since some cliffs have collapsed, we sometimes need to traverse on the talus.

The water is so clean that it's easy to see through the water to the river bottom. It's really cold to swim in this season.




My MLD Duomid.

Brian’s Tarptent Contrail.



A friend from Florida, Brian. He told us that he likes river tracing excluding the ascending part. Because we went the same way forth and back, we need to ascend back as high as we rappelled. It did make us exhausted.


The sun came out only once to warm us.




Hot spring fountain.

Swimming across deep pool.


For further pictures please see the link below.
more pictures

If anyone has chance to visit Taiwan, please contact me. I would be very happy to go hiking with you guys.

Edited by syoten on 01/07/2010 18:35:51 MST.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: River tracing and hot spring in Taiwan on 01/07/2010 09:54:04 MST Print View


Wow...who knew that there was such a thing in Taiwan?!

Thank you for sharing your trip with us.

It is always fascinating to see what activities and places there are to go in other countries.

What do you wear to deal with the cold water?

Do you wear a think wet suit of some sort?

Skinny dude that I am, I would quickly stiffen up in the water and sink to the bottom! :)


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: River tracing and hot spring in Taiwan on 01/07/2010 11:46:15 MST Print View


Wow, that is some beautiful scenery. Looked like all had a wonderful time.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Cool sport on 01/07/2010 18:11:32 MST Print View

This "River Tracing" is a really neat activity. Thanks for sharing!

Jang-Tian Shieh
(syoten) - MLife

Locale: Taiwan
Re: River tracing and hot spring in Taiwan on 01/07/2010 18:34:22 MST Print View


I'm also a skinny guy.
Powerstretch cloth does good job. I'm used to wear both PS top and bottom, and they make me feel warmer and dry soon after I leave the water though they are still wet. If it is colder, I'll wear a neoprene vest inside my PS. Life vest may also provide some warmth. Some people who cannot stand the cold water may even wear neoprene suits similar to those people wear in surfing or diving activity, but I think it's too heavy and restict my movement. Besides, we usually wear neoprene knee and shin pad with thicker cushion outside to not only protect the under knee and shin from bumping rocks but also keep us warm since our lower legs are most frequently in the water.

During this activity, we need to reduce the time when our body is in the water as much as possible to reserve our energy.


todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Re: River tracing and hot spring in Taiwan on 01/07/2010 20:37:22 MST Print View


Very nice trip, and great scenery! Beautiful stuff. Thanks for sharing.


Edited by funnymoney on 01/08/2010 07:06:14 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: River tracing and hot spring in Taiwan on 01/07/2010 22:39:28 MST Print View

Good stuff!


Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: River tracing and hot spring in Taiwan on 01/09/2010 11:19:13 MST Print View

Beautiful photos of an exciting trip in an exotic location that most of us will never be able to go. That's what I'm looking for in these trip reports!


Ruan Kendall
(Ruan) - MLife

Locale: UK
Re: River tracing and hot spring in Taiwan on 01/30/2010 06:55:46 MST Print View

I was lucky enough to make a two week trip to Taiwan a couple of years ago, unfortunately before I'd heard of river tracing or sensible, lightweight backpacking ;)

There are some amazing looking long trails there... we only did a two night hike over Yushan from the Tatjia entrance to Dongpu, and will definitely be going back some day.

I think, with few exceptions, there shouldn't be many places in the world that people would never have the opportunity to get to. Though I guess if you already live in a country with amazing places to go, the cost of the flights might be harder to justify ;)

Edited by Ruan on 01/30/2010 06:56:17 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: River tracing and hot spring in Taiwan on 01/30/2010 09:47:15 MST Print View

Amazing pics and write up!!

I grew up in Taiwan - 1968-1979 - and did a backpacking (hosteling) trip there in 2006 -- spending one month going around the main island plus the outer islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Penghu, Lanyu and Lu Dao. Basically did everything EXCEPT visiting the mountains. Not enough time. So I'll need to make a return trip again!

Hey! For those of you who are "surprised" at how beautiful Taiwan is... the Portuguese didn't call it "Formosa" for nothing! It really is a beautiful, beautiful island. Here's why:

1. Beautiful people! Expect to meet some of the friendliest and most hospitable people anywhere on Earth! Most can speak some English as well.

2. Beautiful culture! Right underneath the veil of modernity, traditional Chinese culture is alive and well in Taiwan. Sadly, you WON'T find much of that in China anymore (I know because I just spent 3 heart-breaking months traveling in China). Oh, and the creme de la creme of China's imperial art collections are in Taiwan -- NOT China.

3. Beautiful cuisine! You can find cuisine from most all parts of China right in Taiwan, plus international, plus the famous night markets.

4. Beautiful scenery! Lush mountains. Beautiful beaches (east coast). Outer islands with amazing snorkeling that beats southern Thailand. That and the pics above, enough said!

5. Modern infrastructure! Tying it all together... trains going 250mph will whisk you from one end of the island to the other in a mere 90 minutes. All first and second tiered train stations have TI (Tourist Info) desks that give out free city maps, points of interests and hotel recommendation to fit different budgets. Bus networks go pretty much everywhere. Metros (subways) in the major cities. And most everything is signed in Chinese and English.

So, if you've got a week or more of free time...

Edited by ben2world on 01/30/2010 09:58:57 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
a slight exaggeration on 01/30/2010 10:01:11 MST Print View

One clarification. Yu Shan, the highest mountain in Taiwan, is about 600 feet higher than Mount Fuji in Japan. Hardly dwarfing.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: a slight exaggeration on 01/30/2010 10:06:09 MST Print View


I caught that myself and edited it out -- just one minute before you posted. :)

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Jade Mountain on 01/30/2010 10:19:12 MST Print View

Each of my Taiwanese friends have recommended for me to climb the Jade Mountain sometime, not that any of them have ever done it themselves.

Fuji is almost as tall, but it is more picturesque. I hiked up there many, many moons ago, and it kicked my butt.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Jade Mountain on 01/30/2010 10:29:14 MST Print View

Fuji is lovely because of its near-perfect symmetry and also just the fact that there are no other mountains blocking the view. I've only seen it from the foot. Actually hiking, I'm sure it's an awesome experience but the lush, lush, lush mountains more southerly are pretty hard to beat too. Good thing? They're not mutually exclusive. We can "see them all".

I recently saw Mt. Everest -- again from the foot (Base Camp). Lovely and majestic to be sure, but because there are mountains all around (including the one where the camp is situated) -- viewing it objectively, it may as well be "just" a 12K peak. Nevertheless, emotionally, just knowing I was staring at the tallest thing on Earth is still awesome.

Edited by ben2world on 01/30/2010 10:35:26 MST.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Beautiful Taiwan. on 01/30/2010 10:34:20 MST Print View

Parts of Taiwan are truly beautiful. I went there several years ago. I took the train down the east coast from Taipei to Kaohsiung. Taiwan's east coast has mountains coming straight down into the ocean. We rented a car to drive up into the mountains for a day -- very beautiful, very steep. Sadly, I didn't have time for any hiking.

The people were also very kind to me. At one train station the ticket seller went searching through the platform till he found a student who spoke English to translate.

Edited by Snowleopard on 01/30/2010 10:36:51 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
mountain viewing from afar on 01/30/2010 10:36:27 MST Print View

Although I have viewed high mountains in many countries, so far I have missed Jade Mountain.

Fuji was most spectacular from a distance when the sun was at just the right angle.

Everest is high, but it is well-hidden within its cluster of peaks. Seeing it from an airliner bound for Kathmandu made my heart race. By the time I got up to its base, my heart was already racing from the altitude. The poster-size photo is hanging on the wall.


Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Beautiful Taiwan. on 01/30/2010 10:43:41 MST Print View

Walter -- sounds like you too need to do another trip there. Maybe Mr. Shieh will play tour/mountain guide for us?

Bob -- Yes, viewing Everest is an experience not easily forgotten. Two pics I took:



Edited by ben2world on 01/30/2010 11:22:47 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
reply to Benjamin on 01/30/2010 10:57:55 MST Print View

Those Everest photos are from the north (Chinese) side. I've been up to the bottom of Everest twice from the south (Nepal) side.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: on 01/30/2010 11:08:20 MST Print View

Yes. I haven't been to the Nepali side, but according to my Lonely Planet guide, the view from the Chinese side is "far superior". True or not, I was lucky it was a beautiful day that day.

OK, back to Taiwan, "the other China"! :)

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
photo? on 01/30/2010 11:15:16 MST Print View

Perhaps Mr. Shieh has a photo of Yu Shan from a distance, so that we can size it up.