I was supposed to come to Caoling and do this hike a couple of months ago. It was raining that day so I ended up going to a weird place up the mountain, followed by a waterfall. Last week, the weather was a bit stable so I came back again with my friends. My destination was Jiananyun Peak at 1795m ASL.
Starting from the car park, we would walk 1.8km to one of the trail entrance, up the mountain to the peak, back down another route to the south entrance and then 2.6km back to the car park. The total hike was around 11 or 12 km, ascending 500m.
It took us about 20 minutes to the trail entrance. This part was pretty easy, just walking along the tarmac path up a slight slope. When we got to the proper ascend, I was very pleased to see that there was a staircase, albeit quite a steep one. At least there were proper steps and I didn't have to scramble or pull myself up any ropes. On top of that, the ascend was through some bamboo forest, and was very cool under the shade.
It took us about an hour and half to get to the resting deck. We had ascended around 400m by now. This is the first time I've seen a built up deck like this up in the mountains. Normally it's just an open area in the middle of the forest with maybe some benches. I can imagine the effort taken to build this especially since I had just done the hike up myself. The deck faces a range of mountains in Caoling which I couldn't identify, but when I was here it was quite foggy and I couldn't see much. I have a video below of my walk, and you can see the view that I managed to capture on video.
We had our lunch at the deck and after a short rest, started the ascend up the remaining 100m to Jiananyun Peak. This section was much less friendlier than the previous. There were no steps, just a tree trunk lined path. There were a few sections where the slope was around 70/80 degrees and I had to heave myself up using ropes. You can see me descending down that section in the video.
And finally we got to the peak, at 1795m above sea level. This peak is quite special because it straddles across three counties in Taiwan. The name Jiananyun Peak stands for Jia for Chiayi County, Nan for Nantou, and Yun for Yuanlin. The little marker on the ground is supposed to be the intersction of the three counties.
The trail coming down was a totally different terrain and the first part of the descend was much flatter. It was still through the bamboo forest but with a mixture of some other trees. Quite a lot of the roots were exposed on the ground and you can see how thick they are compared to the trunk. This section was very enchanting.
Like all the other trials, there were a lot of interesting plants en route. Here I was mucking about and taking a selfie with some plant on the handrail. It was fun.. until a few moments later.
After the selfie I continued the descend down to catch up with my friends. It was getting a bit hot and my right calf felt a little itchy. I thought it was the heat and thought nothing of it until I felt a little ping. I pulled up my trousers leg and saw a black speck on my front calf. It was a leech gnawing into me!!!!! I panicked and screamed, jumping up and down until I had no option but to brush it off me with my finger. It was tiny, probably only about 1cm, but it was horrible. Call me a drama queen, I don't care. It had just nicked me and I was bleeding. Ok, I'm exaggerating a bit, it was only a couple drops of blood but it could have been worse. My friend said it could have penetrated into the wound and lodged itself inside my flesh!!!
After I had recovered from my ordeal, I continued my descend. I kept on having this feeling that something was on my calf, and literally stomped all the way instead of walking, pulling my trousers leg up every now and then to check that nothing was there. It was just my imagination. This continued for about another 15 minutes. I was doing another spot check, this time on my left leg. I pulled by trousers leg up, and kid me not, there was another black speck on the back of my left calf ready to help itself to my flesh!!! How dare them? Not once, but twice!!!!!! Luckily my friend was right next to me and flicked the horrible creature away immediately. It was less scarier than the first time, maybe because I wasn't on my own, maybe I had got used to them. Eitherway, they are not welcome!!!
I'm not one for flashing my legs, but I wanted to show you where I was bitten 😣
Continuing my descend
Luckily, we were nearing to the end of the descend, and I can confirm that this was the end of my ordeal. The rest of the hike down was very pleasant, and would have been even better had it not been for the horrible leeches spoiling my hike.
Finally, I got to the south entrance at the bottom of the hike. Jiananyun Peak, the highest point where I was earlier on, is somewhere along the range of mountain in the photo. It took me about another half an hour to get back to the car park. Before I got into the car, I double and quadruple checked that there was nothing on me. I wanted to make sure the leeches are staying at Caoling as there is no way they are coming home with me.
It's been ten days now, I'm safe.
I took this video of my hike at Caoling, and it shows the beautiful landscape through the bamboo forest as well as some of the more strenuous sections. Hope you enjoy it.
嘉南雲峰海拔1795米。它特別之處是橫跨台灣三個縣，嘉義，南投和雲南，所以名為嘉南雲峰。 從停車場走到登山徑口， 然後沿著竹林中的梯級慢慢上山。大概一個半小時後已登了400米，到達近山頂的一座休息亭。 平時山上休息的地方都是一片空地，可能有一兩張木櫈。 如此有規模建造一座休息亭，我還是第一次見到。 上山的路雖然不算艱苦，但要每天上上落落，而且還要抬著工具和材料，真是很不可思議。
我們下山時，經過另外一邊山峰到另一個登山口。 這邊的地勢跟上山時有點不一樣。雖然還是經過竹林，但中間夾雜不少我不知道名字的樹木和植物。 在路上我還很開心地跟欄杆上的植物玩自拍。 開心過後，惡夢就來了。
朋友們已經往前走了，我就跟著路下山。 可能天氣悶熱，我感到雙腿有點癢癢，但沒有在意。 突然我感到右小腿有點刺痛！我連忙拉起褲管，看見有一點黑色物體在小腿上，嚇得我大聲尖叫，在原地上跳了幾下！ 終於在無可奈何下，我硬著頭皮勇敢地用手指撥開黑色物體！ 這時候朋友聽到我的尖叫聲已跑回來。 原來這是一隻水蛭， 雖然只有大概一厘米，但已足夠嚇得我破了膽。重點是它很可惡，咬了我一口流了丁點血!! 朋友還說，如果沒有及時撥開，它可能鈎在傷口不斷吸血！很恐怖喔！
驚魂過後，我繼續下山。我不時感覺到腿上有點癢癢， 於是我每走幾步又拉起褲管檢查小腿上沒水蛭。原來是自己的幻覺。 走了大概15分鐘，又是檢查的時間。我拉起左腿褲管，這次不是我的幻覺，真的又有水蛭! 他媽的!! 又來??!! 還好，朋友這次在身邊，連忙幫我把水蛭撥開，又仔細幫我檢查褲管內外和爬山鞋上再沒有水蛭，我才安心。
幾經波折終於下山回到停車場。 我又再多番檢查腿上還有沒有不受歡迎的昆蟲，才離開草嶺。 經過這次，我終於明白為什麼台灣人喜歡穿水靴爬山。