Four Beasts Mountain

By: Claudia Daggett

Dec 11 2011

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: Taiwan

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Focal Length:22mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:NIKON D90

Sun., 12/11/11, 9 AM China Standard Time

Looking at yet another rainy afternoon yesterday, I decided to seize the moment. After taking the MRT to Taipei City Hall, I headed off with my map and notes in hand. Thanks to some helpful instructions from Neil Wade’s Photography Blog (Don’t you love Google?), I found my destination without difficulty.

Just a few blocks south of City Hall and Taipei 101 are two lovely city parks, Zhongqiang, with an interesting small temple, and Sanli, with lush landscaping and a striking small pagoda. Beyond the parks and around the bend, one comes to the trail head for Zhaunjing Hiking Trail. The trail, a brick footpath and steps, heads up Elephant Mountain (Xiang Shan), the western-most peak of the Four Beasts (elephant, tiger, panther, and lion).

The Zhaunjing Trail, steep and slick with rain, gave me a good workout. I found the vegetation there, in Sishoushan Community Forest, surprisingly thick and varied so close to its intensely urban surroundings. The views from the top were worth the climb, even on a soupy day. As I wandered around the perimeter of the viewing area, camera in hand, I came upon what must have been falcon of some sort — from the back, very large, brown, and shaggy. I froze in my tracks when I saw him and then ever-so-slowly reached for my camera, but the movement sent him to the air. (Photographers, like fisherman, always have stories about the one that got away!)

After enjoying the view, the retreat from the city hubbub, and a rest at the top of the trail, I hesitated at the fork to the next peak, realizing that my camera and I were both getting quite soggy. Enough for one day! I made my way down all those many steps and found a cab waiting along Zhongqiang Park. Several minutes of verbal struggle ensued as we both tried to communicate — he in animated Chinese, and I in sheepish English while pointing to and drawing on my map. Finally, we seemed to come to some understanding, and we were off across the city.  A hot cup of tea in my hotel room was looking very good.


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