Thursday, February 9, 2017

hiking Taroko Gorge

This winter break, we decided to have a staycation (again). At first, I was a little disappointed. Over summer, I was scheming and dreaming about going to Greece or New Zealand or Australia or Iceland this winter, but then Ruby came along (which is way, way cooler than going to any of those places), and we decided to stay in Taiwan over our long winter break for practical reasons.

Even though we were not going to fly anywhere, we didn't want to spend the entirety of our 25 day break in Hsinchu, so we decided to each choose a getaway destination. Taroko Gorge, located on Taiwan's east coast, was my chosen destination, but honestly, it was not my first choice. It kinda happened by default. I really wanted to go to Alishan, a beautiful mountain in central Taiwan, or one of Taiwan's off shore islands, but the logistics of getting to those places was way too much for this 26 week pregnant lady to handle, so Taroko became my choice because it was relatively close and easy to get to.

We had been to Taroko Gorge once before, right after we first moved to Taiwan in July of 2012. We went on a road trip with some then new (today old) friends. The gorge was beautiful and certainly left an impression on me, so I was happy to revisit it.

To get there this time, we scooted to Jhubei (the next town over from us), hopped on the high speed rail to Taipei, then hopped on the slow train to Hualien, and then hopped on a shuttle bus to the gorge. The whole process took 8 hours, and I was so exhausted from all of the travel.

Last time we visited the gorge with our friends, we stayed in Hualien and drove into the gorge. This time, we decided to splurge and stay at The Silks, a really nice, really expensive resort in Taroko Gorge. The resort is literally built into the side of the gorge and has amazing views. Our first day at The Silks, I napped and rage ate a lot of food from the hotel's buffet.

I also realized how glad I was that we did not try to go to Greece or New Zealand or Australia or Iceland because the simple act of traveling 8 hours from Hsinchu to Taroko was enough to put me out of commission for the entire day.

Pregnancy is exhausting.

Feeling more refreshed the next day, we decided to hit up one the trails close to The Silks: the 2km Baiyang Trail. When we visited Taroko the first time, we never walked this particular trail, so I was excited to do something new and get outside to see more of the gorge beyond The Silks.

The entrance to the trail was a 20 minute walk along the gorge's main road. It was all up hill, and I was slightly worried because I was already huffing and puffing by the time I made it to the trail entrance (another awesome side effect of being nearly in my third trimester of pregnancy). However, I was relieved to discover the actual trail itself is mostly flat.

The trail's ultimate destination is a cave filled with waterfalls, however, that particular feature is closed at the moment due to damage caused by last year's typhoons. However, we did get to walk most of the trail and see some beautiful bridges and waterfalls and tunnels and monkeys in the process.

By the time we got back to The Silks, we had been gone for nearly three hours and had taken 12,000+ steps. I soaked in the Japanese style tub in our room and called it a day. That night, we sat on the hotel's rooftop by a glorious (and huge) fire pit. I felt kinda silly that we were only staying two nights in the gorge, and by our last night, we had only really done one thing: hike the Baiyang trail.

Then I decided to stop feeling silly. I am less than 14 weeks away from giving birth. My body is like a stranger to me. I am awkward, I waddle, and I tire way too easily. I decided that instead of feeling silly, I would feel like a badass for deciding to leave the comfort of my apartment (and bed) to go on an adventure and hike into the wilderness of Taiwan while 26 weeks pregnant.
That story is certainly one I can feel good about.


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