With no plans to leave the island anytime soon, we revisited our Taiwan bucket list and decided that the week of Sarah’s birthday would be a great time to summit Snow Mountain. In 2018, we summited Jade Mountain the highest peak in Taiwan at 3952m. Snow Mountain (Mt. Syue) is the second highest peak at 3886m.
We looked into hiring a tour company to help plan the logistics, but after talking to friends and reading other blogs, we decided that we could figure it out on our own.
To enter the trail and do the summit hike, you need to register for a permit at Shei-Pa National Park. You fill out the form, outline your itinerary, and submit it for approval. This not only allows you access to the trail but also guarantees you a spot at cabins you select in your itinerary. It took us a few tries to get it right, due to some confusing translation issues, but we did work it out. A couple of days later our permit came to us by email.
We also heard that is possible to order food at the cabin, which surprised us because the cabins are very basic. We did some research and read about Taiwanese aboriginals from the local towns who carry up food and gear up to the cabins for the hikers. We followed the directions from one of the blogs and basically texted someone using the popular Taiwan chat app LINE. They texted back with a price and a bank account number. We transferred the requested money and then crossed our fingers that it would all work out.
It is about a 5 hour drive from Taichung to the National Park. On the drive up, we realized that this national park is deep in the mountains and a beautiful part of Taiwan.
We spent the night before the hike camping in our van in the parking lot at the trail entrance.
To start the hike, you drop off one copy of your permit when you enter and then a second copy as you leave the trail.
Our destination the first day is a 7.1 km hike, to the 369 Hut where we will “sleep” one night.
Most people staying at the cabin get up at 2 am to see sunrise at the summit around 5:30 am. Not wanting to hike in the dark with a crowd of people we tried to get a bit more sleep and then started our summit hike at 5 am.
It took us about 3 hours to hike the approximately 4 km to the summit. A benefit of starting later, we had time at the summit all to ourselves!
The views, tranquility and emotions at this elevation are impossible to put to words. These places grant a welcome quietness for the mind and feel meditative. I think of my dad in places like this, particularly on the summits. He exposed Tat and I to this type of high elevation beauty as kids which I’ll always be grateful for. I felt him with me and will continue to carry his spirit to places like this for as long as I can. He was always the first person I’d text a summit selfie to and if I/we were ever at the bottom of anything remotely hikeable he’d always nudge with a “let’s scramble up!” or “let’s bag it”. His nudges were effective.
From the top, it is a 11 km trek back down to the trail entrance and our van.
After getting up at 5 am and hiking about 15 km, we knew that we would not want to do the long drive home that night. Instead, we found a great little B&B just outside the park in the aboriginal town of Sqoyaw.
It was worth the stop to spend a night in this fruit producing region nestled in the mountains.
We were really happy to have made this trip and climb, it turned out to be one of the most beautiful areas that we have explored in Taiwan.
Pickles & Passionfruit
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