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Monday, October 23, 2017

hiking elephant mountain

This morning, I woke up craving adventure. At first, I thought maybe I would go on another scoot adventure, but then I decided that I would go to Taipei instead. Honestly, at first, I wanted to go to get mama's meatballs from Sababa, a Mediterranean restaurant, for lunch, but then I got to thinking, and I realized that there are so many places I talk about visiting in Taipei that I never get around to actually seeing because I am always waiting for other people to go with me, which always complicates things: Sean's knees will kill him on the way down from Elephant Mountain or will she get bored and impatient if I want to take a million pictures at the creative park

So I decided that the second our nanny walked in the door at 9a.m., I would leave with my backpack full of granola bars, water, and camera equipment, and that is exactly what I did. My goal was to hike Elephant Mountain. I was already on the high speed rail headed to Taipei when I realized that I had no clue how to get to Elephant Mountain, so I spent some time looking it up on my smartphone. 

At Taipei Main Station, I looked at an MRT (metro) map and hopped on the red line headed toward Xiangshan Station. Every blog I read about Elephant Mountain while on the HSR to Taipei included absurdly detailed directions with pictures of street corners and signs for how to find the trail entrance from the metro, so I was expecting for it to be difficult to find.

...but it wasn't. There were English signs from the exit of the metro to the entrance of the trail, and even I, a directionally challenge person, found it the first time with no effort whatsoever. 

At the bottom of the trail, I guzzled some water, took off my long sleeve over shirt, and popped in my ear buds. I knew from reading what I was about to encounter: never ending stairs. 

It is finally fall in Taiwan, so it was in the low 70's and overcast/smoggy, and truth be told, it was a silly day to do this. On a clear day, the view of Taipei from the top of Elephant Mountain would be unparalleled. That didn't matter to me though. I only have eight more months on this beloved island before we move back to America, and I only have four more months of parental leave left to enjoy days like today when I have absolutely nothing I need to do and someone to watch the baby. 

If I want to do or see something, now is the time to do it, so that is exactly what I did. 

I took my first step of many up toward the peak of Elephant Mountain. I took a lot of breaks because the most physical activity I have had since having Ruby five months ago is taking her and Bubu on walks around our neighborhood. I met a few backpackers and chatted with a few locals, and I somehow ended up showing everyone I spoke with pictures of Ruby -- because, yes, I am that mom. I made a cat friend that accompanied me for half the trek up the mountain.

I also felt that rush that still washes over me after all these years when I stop to think how random and lucky and remarkable it is that I get to call this small Asian island home, even if I know that we will be closing this chapter of our life in a blink of an eye. 

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