Autumn is presenting its beauty, so I embark on another weekend of nature and hiking. My journey starts Friday afternoon in Hsinchu. After a 45-minute drive, I’m at the trailhead of Wuzhi Mountain.
Wuzhishan translates to “Five Fingers Mountain” because its shape consists of five distinct peaks (vaguely) resembling the five fingers of a hand. This leads to funny markers telling you how many meters and minutes to “Thumb” or “Index”. And yes, you can (and many do) pose for your summit selfie at Middle Finger Peak (the highest of the five), pointing your version of an obscene hand gesture into the camera.
The area is famous for nearby Zaojun and Pangu temples (五指山灶君堂 and 五指山盤古廟). The trail starts behind a small monastery (竹林禪苑). It’s a compact soil trail with rock and wooden stairs that help you quickly gain altitude.
Two blogs I’ve consulted to plan my hike put the duration for the in-and-out trip, including all five “fingers”, anywhere between 4 and 7 hours, depending on speed and breaks. My accommodation for the night is 45 minutes from the trailhead and only allows check-in until 5pm, which means I have only 3 hours to work with. I set myself a deadline by which I’ll turn around no matter what.
Barely 20 minutes into the hike, a worried Taiwanese woman uses her best English to tell me that I’m too late for this hike. I appreciate the concern but was surprised to hear such a warning as early as 1:30pm. I already expect that I might need to turn around at Middle Finger peak and save the last two fingers for another time, but there’s still plenty of time to see how far I can reach.
The longest stretch is from the trailhead to “Thumb” (拇指峰 Muzhifeng), which takes me about 25 minutes. After that, it’s a steep up and down over countless wooden steps and about 15 minutes to “Index” (食指峰 Shizhifeng).
At this point, I realize I can reach “Little Finger” in about an hour and finish the return trip in 2.5 hours. Looking at the fog thickening on the trail and a light drizzle starting, I have no desire to spend much longer. Should it rain, the slippery trail would surely slow me down.
Ten minutes from “Index”, I reach 中指峰 Zhongzhifeng, the “infamous” Middle Finger peak. Not unlike its namesake, a radio tower stretches above the mountaintop. There’s a signboard and a small clearing, but the view at Hsinchu is obscured by fog today.
I decide to continue my hike and rush down the other side. The trail is less trodden from here because many hikers turn around at Middle Finger Peak. It’s the highest point of Wuzhi Mountain and the certification point for Xiaobaiyue #30. However, the last two peaks are a nice addition. About 10 minutes later, I reach 無名指峰 Wumingzhifeng (“No Name Finger Peak”), and shortly after that, I arrive at 小拇指山 Xiaowuzhishan “Little Finger Mountain”.
It takes me slightly more than an hour to hike back to the trailhead. A slight drizzle has started, but the rain stays away. I stretch for a bit and even have time to stop for dinner at a convenience store on my way to the B&B.
I’m looking forward to a good night’s rest. Tomorrow, I’ll be hiking nearby 鵝公髻山 Egongjishan, Xiaobiayue #31.