The best hikes often happen unexpectedly. I don’t have any big adventures planned for the Chinese New Year holiday. While looking for a casual hike close to Taipei, my eyes fall on 基隆山 Keelung Mountain. I initially plan to start from the North and cross to Juifen (which in hindsight might have been the better route) but then decide to start from Ruifang instead.
From here, I walk on the Canguangliao Historical Trail again. It might have to do with the holiday, but somehow I suspect this part of the trail never sees too many people. I simply love this trail and decide to incorporate it into my workout routine in the future. It’s 800 meters of stairs to the first viewpoint (this is from the trailhead, not from Ruifang) with a couple of pull-up bars creating a nice outdoor gym. Today, I just pass by onwards to Juifen. I’m sure this little hillside village is living up to its craze but arriving from a peaceful trail never makes me want to linger in its busy streets. That said I come back a week later to write these lines from a window seat at .
I find the trailhead to Mount Keelung and make my way up its many stairs in the pleasant afternoon sun. It’s a good workout, and I reach the peak sweaty and happy. I enjoy the fabulous views down to the sea and back at more mountains towards the South and East. I expect the way down to be similar and to sit by the ocean in half an hour. Instead, I find myself negotiating a proper trail, steep and uncomfortably slippy at points. Ropes are aiding me along, and it’s precisely the kind of track I love - going up. Now, I question my lack of preparation for being the only idiot doing this downslope.
The views are getting better with each step, and it’s hard to decide which is more gorgeous, the blue of the ocean ahead or the lush green of the mountains behind and all around me. Mostly my eyes are fixed on the slope, though, as I navigate down through reed and over boulders. The trail isn’t difficult, but it takes more time and energy than expected, so I’m glad when I finally reach 濂洞 Liandong.
I catch a glimpse of 水湳洞選煉廠遺址 The Remains of the 13 Levels, a former copper and gold smelter plant also known as the Potala Palace of Mountain Mines, as well as the uniquely-coloured 黃金瀑布 Golden Waterfalls. What’s initially been suspected to be chemical runoff from mining turns out to be a natural phenomenon caused by the high concentration of pyrite and other minerals. This gives the water a yellow, almost golden, hue, hence the name. If you consider that it’s gold mined here in the past the name is fitting in more way than just one. The yellow water finally mixes with the blue of the ocean at what’s poetically named the 陰陽海 Yin and Yang Sea.