Igor Tolkov

Mt. Jun from Dongpu

Dec
18 - 19
2020

Mt. Jun is typically described as an easy day hike that requires a ride up a long mountain road. By bus, however, it is much less accessible. Fortunately, there is a trail, albeit a very obscure one, from the nearby aboriginal hot spring town of Dongpu.

The itinerary described here is an exploratory trail up the west ridge of Mt. Jun from Dongpu, followed by taking the typical trail to Mt. Duowang, then down another ridge back to Dongpu, for a loop hike. It can be done in two days. The challenge is an ascent of 2000 m with no water source the entire way. Another challenge is the obscurity of the trail. There are no official trail markers and very few ribbons along the way. Do not attempt it unless you have wayfinding experience.

Transportation

Yuanlin Bus 6732 makes several runs each day between Dongpu and Shueili, taking about an hour to make the trip. I recommend staying overnight in Shueili before the hike, as accommodation there will be cheaper than in Dongpu. Take the first bus (06:00) from Shueili to Dongpu.

There are several ways to get to Shueili. The easiest one is by train. The fastest is the Cathay group taxi (schedule) that departs frequently from Taichung city center. And the cheapest but slowest is one of the local buses.

Day 1: A false start up a steep hill

The night before the hike I stay in Taichung near the train station at Loosha Hostel. The hostel is very comfortable and nearly empty. They also serve good breakfast (for a hostel), but their breafast service starts late - too late.

07:10Take Cathay group taxi from Taichung City Center.

08:20Arrive Shueili, go to 7-11 for breakfast.

09:00Take Yuanlin Bus 6732 to Dongpu.

10:18Arrive Dongpu. It's already late, which is why I recommend staying in Shueili. Depart. For a more fun start to the hike, alight one stop earlier and walk along the suspension bridge.

10:54Arrive MIT Aiyu Stand. This is where every hiker stops, sets their pack down, and enjoys the most delicious aiyu jelly in all of Taiwan. The owners ask me where I'm going. I tell them, Mt. Jun, they are surprised, and exchange some words in the local language. Very rarely do people take this trail.

11:10Depart. Straight up ahead, the main Batongguan Trail turns right. Now, the correct way to get to the Mt. Jun trail is to go left, following a village road that's not on the maps. I did not have a good idea about how to get to the trail, however, and went right.

11:14Ahead is the Father-Son Cliff. To the left up a hill is a water tower and what looks like the start of a ridge. I go left. There's no trail, just forest.

11:30I reach a precipice. For the next 50 minutes I look for a path around, to no avail, cutting my arms on the silvergrass in the process. Eventually I give up and turn around.

12:25A short way down I find another path that circles the hill. I follow it and reach the road I should have taken all along. This road leads to a farm, where the trail climbs directly up the hill along the edge of a field. A warning, however: there are dogs guarding the farm.

12:36Trailhead.

The trail looks like the picture below, hard to follow.

13:15The trail turns left and continues climbing straight up the ridge, but is now easier to follow. I climb slowly, taking breaks when I need.

15:40First hunting camp, a good campsite.

16:10Second hunting camp, where I stop for the night.

Day 2: Mt. Jun

07:35Depart. Soon I see a curious path circling the ridge. I follow for a bit to explore, then go back, as it's the wrong path. The correct path is up, up, up. The trail gets rockier.

08:45A/B point. Here, the Forestry Service painted big red letters "A" and "B" on two trees. Past this point, it's easy to lose the trail. You're supposed to scramble up the rocky field, then once you get to the top go left and up, staying to the left side in the safety of the bamboo. There should be a trail there. I take the right side instead, scrambling up the exposed rock face. It's dangerous, don't do it! Eventually I return to the bamboo-covered left side and find the trail.

09:45High point with a nice view. The steep climb is over. Beyond, there is a flat field with camping spots and a water pool. The pool has water, but I don't know how reliable it is for camping.

10:00⛰️ Mt. Jun (3265 m) #61. I expected the summit to be crowded, but it's completely empty. I then realize why. The forest road that most people drive on to get to the trailhead has a gate that opens in the morning and closes in the afternoon. Thus it's impossible to get an early morning start. One might consider arriving on Saturday afternoon and camping roadside, but it was a Saturday, and the previous day was a workday.

10:35Depart before the first people show up. Up to now I was following an exploratory trail with not a soul along the way. But that's about to change as I take the usual trail.

11:20⛰️ Mt. Jun North Peak (3241 m)

Then the people river begins.

12:05⛰️ Mt. Wangxiang (3025 m). Someone gives me a hard boiled egg. I have lunch.

12:25Begin descent along another uncommon trail. This one has more tricky geography but is flagged.

12:40The trail is likely frequented by illegal loggers. It has a lot of rubbish. This is the first trash zone, which I proceed to clean up.

13:10Continue down.

13:45Second trash zone, which I don't clean up because I have no more space in my pack.

14:00Campsite.

14:20Kaigao triangulation marker. People call it a mountain because they imagine triangulation markers put on tops of mountains, but triangulation markers aren't always on tops of mountains. This one marks the outward reach of a ridge before it transitions to a steep drop. Indeed, the trail becomes very steep after here.

14:55Old ruins

15:10Forest road. I follow the road down to Dongpu.

15:40I arrive in the center of the hot spring town and go to Tilun hot spring hotel for a shower and public bath.

17:20Board Yuanlin bus 6732 for Shueili.

Have dinner in Shueili, then take the Cathay group taxi and train back to Taipei.