Sunday, August 21, 2016

Pingxi (平溪) Crags - Xiaozishan (孝子山) - Mt. Cimu (慈母山) - Putuoshan (普陀山) [Taiwan Day 1086: Crack the Crags - Aug. 21, 2016]


An exposed rock in the middle of a forest in the town of Pingxi attracts thrill seekers for a fantastic hike to its top. It's not just one, not two but three rocks and they call it collectively as the Pingxi crags. I had difficulty looking for a Travel Buddy for this trip but the gods and goddesses of Taiwan answered my prayers as one Ethiopian guy joined me in this one of a kind hiking adventure.

Teklu was my Travel Buddy and he came from Ethiopia. I had always invited him to join my adventures but he was so busy that he always declines my invitation. Until this day came! Hallelujah! He finally joined my Taiwan Day Adventures. 



Pingxi Station
Waidian Bridge

Going to the trail of the Pingxi crags was simple and easy. We first boarded a TRA train going to Ruifang Station and then we transferred to a train going to Pingxi Station. The train station in the town of Pingxi was built overlooking a river so we went down to its banks and crossed it by walking over the Waidian Bridge. We turned right and walked along the road until we found a marker stating the start of the Xiaozi Mountains Trailhead.


The entrance of the trail


Travel Buddy Teklu giving a lecture about the trail.


Be prepared to climb these stone stairs!

The statue of a goddess at the intersection of the different hiking trails.

There was a map at the start of the trail and going up was not difficult. We then reached a parking lot where fellow hikers with their own cars parked their vehicles. My Travel Buddy and I continued the hike until we reached a place where there was a goddess acting like a guardian to the entrance of the three crags. There was confusion on where to start and but we managed to identify the one leading to the famous Xiaozi mountain by asking questions to locals.



Teklu was excited upon seeing the stone stairs and the rope. He was even the one leading the hike while I courageously hold on tightly to the ropes while I document every scene in our adventure by taking photos. It was a bit difficult for me climb since I also carried my tripod on my other hand. That's really the life of a travel blogger. Haha!








At the top of the stone stairs was a rest station where people can regain their energy before starting the real hike. We were already on the base of the crag and going up meant more struggles. I gave Teklu my tripod and he assisted me to climb the rocks! Damn it! My legs were too short. lol







me and Xiaozi Mountain 

It was scary to use these ropes to climb to the top.


This not yet the peak of Xiaozi Mountain



The town of Pingxi
We went down these steep stairs and discover another way to climb to the top of Xiaozi Mountain.


Travel Buddy Teklu got interested with the "Chinese" writing on the rock.







The metal stairs to the summit of Mt. Xiaozi


At the peak of Xiaozi Mountain


We were at first surprised to see the tall wall of rock that was in front of us. There was also a set of ropes hanging on the crag and we got scared with the idea of doing rock climbing without any harness. Anyway, there was a way going down the side of the base of the crag which led us to another path leading to a metal ladder. We climbed these dangerous metal stairs as well as the steep stone stairs and we were rewarded with the view of town of Pingxi at the top of 360 meter Xiaozi Mountain. 

One can also see Putuoshan at the summit of Xiaozishan
Mt. Cimu as seen from the top of Xiaozishan


At the summit of Mt. Xiaozi was an incredible view of the other two crags. Mt. Cimu with its very long stone stairs that were carved from the mountain itself and Putoushan which was covered with trees with some portion of its stone stairs exposed. We even saw some hikers while climbing Putuoshan as we stood on the top of Xiaozi Mountain.








After enjoying taking photos at top was the struggle of going down the steep stone stairs of Mt. Xiaozi, I first tried to go down by facing the stairs until I decided to turned my back and go down with the help of holding tightly on the ropes. For the metal ladder, I made sure that I placed the middle portion of my foot on the steps as not to slip on the ladder and let gravity pulled me down to the face of the Earth.










Mt. Xiaozi as seen from the summit of Mt. Cimu.


At the summit of Mt. Cimu




A brave man tried to climb Xiaozishan using only the ropes. We saw him while we were at Mt. Cimu.


Putuoshan as seen from the top of Mt. Cimu

We went back to the place where there was a goddess and we saw the set of narrow stone stairs leading to the top of Mt. Cimu and a wider cemented stairs going up to top of the mountain. My Travel Buddy and I chose to climb the wider stairs since it was shaded and covered with trees. We saw the top of Mt. Cimu and it was like a large wall of rock as we get near to its summit. A set of ropes helped us reached its summit and we were awed with the view of Xiaozi Mountain amidst the dense green forest of Pingxi.


Going down from Mt. Cimu




A sky lantern that made its way to the Pingxi Crags trail

The trail to the top of Putuoshan




The stone stairs of Putuoshan



There was another goddess at the peak of Putuoshan




The way to Putuoshan was marked with a small stone containing Chinese characters representing the name of the mountain. We followed the path and I documented the hike to the top by recording a video. The trail then becomes the carved stone stairs with ropes on its sides to protect the climbers from falling down from the cliff. We finally reached the summit of Putuo Mountain and at its top were three Buddha statues and were like looking at the town of Pingxi. A simple thank you was our gift to the gods for protecting me and my Travel Buddy during our travel adventure.





Before I end this travelogue, let me ask you a question. When was the first time that you heard the word “crag”? I actually learned about this word when I was goggling for this place to visit on a sunny day in Taiwan. The word “crag” was intriguing to me so I searched its meaning on the internet. According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, a crag is a steep rugged rock or cliff. But here in Pingxi, the crags were more than just tall exposed rocks in the forest. It was a big playground to defeat acrophobia and reach your dream of climbing a tall rock. 




Mt. Cimu as seen from Putuoshan

the view from Putuoshan

Fellow hikers standing on top of Xiaozi Mountain
It took us 4 hours to finish climbing the three summits. We started at 10am and finished around 2pm. When we went back to our starting point, there was this yellow line that hangs at the entrance of the trail.  I thought of the yellow line as a warning sign that you won't be able to finish hiking the Pingxi Crags if you start at 2pm.  

We actually discovered a bundle of joy as my Travel Buddy and I shouted to our fellow hikers while they climbed on a different crag. Great smiles were exchanged in our loud greetings and we suddenly felt happiness in our hearts. So when you come to Pingxi, don't just send sky lanterns in the sky. Find the trails, face your fear of heights and prepare yourselves to crack the crags.
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