On Tuesday, I took a train to Fulong Station [福隆車站] to enjoy a walk along the Caoling Trail [草嶺古道]. The Caoling Trail once served as an important link between Danshui and Yilan. The area I hiked is the only surviving section of this historic trail. I learned of this trail from a post by David Reid a while back. I had been determined to go ever since reading about it. Luckily, due to recent events, I don’t have to work on Tuesdays until I move next month, so I have a little extra free time on my hands.
There are a couple of sculptures outside Fulong Station. They were created by the Taipei Railway Workshop of the Taiwan Railway Administration using discarded parts from diesel-electric locomotives. They were installed at Fulong Station when it was reconstructed in 2005.
Across the street from the station there is a visitor center complete with a few brochures, some displays on the history of the area [Chinese only], and a room of carved driftwood art. Needless to say, I didn’t spend long there. I walked to the nearby 7-11 for some food and water to take on the trip and was on my way.
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The path to the trail has a lot of small farms and nice scenery to enjoy. The weather was cool that day and there was a gentle breeze [which ultimately turned into a much stronger wind at the higher points of the trail].
There were a few butterflies along the lower elevations of the trail. This gorgeous one is the only one that stuck around long enough for me to photograph. A big thanks to one of my Flickr contacts and fellow Nikon-shooter Frederic D., who identified the creature as Symbrenthia hypselis scatinia [姬黃三線蝶].
Before long I made it to Yuanwangkeng Riverside Park [遠望坑親水公園] which is where the real trail begins. At the park I found a restroom and a vending machine, which was wonderful because I was going through my 7-11 purchases a little faster than expected.
Being a weekday, the trail was almost deserted. I only passed by a dozen people on the whole route.
The trail is made up of cut-stones like those found on most of the popular recreational walking trails around Taiwan.
Also along the trail are a few smaller trails which aren’t marked on the map. I assume the majority lead to the area’s private farms.
The Northeast Coast National Scenic Area Administration is kind enough to have installed plenty of Chinese and English information plaques along the way…
The four Chinese characters on this tablet were inscribed by Taiwan Regional Commander Liu Ming-deng, who, when traveling to Yilan along the winding stone pavement of the old Danshuei-Lanyang Trail in 1867, encountered stinging rain and thick mist. This made him conscious of the difficulties faced by the brave men and women who opened up this part of Taiwan, and he inscribed “Boldly Quell the Wild Mists” on a huge stone lying on the flank of Caoling Mountain. This is the largest stone inscription in Taiwan.
Tiger Inscription [虎字碑]:
The Northeast Coast National Scenic Area Administration:
When Taiwan Regional Commander Liu Ming-deng arrived at the Caoling Pass during an inspection tour of northern Taiwan in 1867, he was buffeted by such strong wind and thick fog that he could not tell his directions. In accordance with the ancient Chinese saying. “Clouds obey the dragon, winds obey the tiger” he inscribed the Chinese character, “Tiger” to suppress the wind. Legend has it that Liu Ming-deng loved to write the character for tiger, and that his calligraphy indicated differences of gender. The “Tiger” inscription written by him in a Boai Road military compound in Taipei is male, while the “Tiger” on this stone is female.
On the way to Dali [大里], hikers are rewarded with a spectacular view. It is around here that the trail splits, with the option of heading down towards Dali or taking a longer route to Daxi [大溪] via the Taoyuan Valley [桃源谷]. I was told by some hikers that the longer path takes 5 hours. Given that it was already early afternoon, I opted to take the shorter path to Dali.
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Walking along the beach on the way to the train station, to the left of this photo is Dali Tian-Gong Temple [大里天公廟]:
And finally, the journey came to an end at Dali Train Station:
Waiting, waiting, and waiting…
Two workers were busy building a wheelchair accessible ramp when I arrived:
Maybe next time I’ll take the hiking path from Dali to Daxi along the Taoyuan Valley… I still have a few Tuesdays left before I move to Nantou…