Jade Mountain or more commonly known as Mount Yushan is the largest mountain in East Asia at 3952m/12965ft. Mount Yushan is unheard of to the outside world and overshadowed by the infamous Mount Fuji in Japan, but in fact Yushan is taller. In Taiwan rather, everyone has heard of Yushan- it’s in a National Park and even on the 1000$ NT note.
The majority of Taiwanese have heard of Yushan but have not climbed it: the main reason being- you have to apply for a permit months in advance, fill- out a bunch of paperwork and it does cost money. So, after months of paperwork and emails we finally got the approval for November 20th- we were stoked!
With hiking and camping gear strapped on the scooters we left Changhua City early Saturday morning. The scooter ride took longer than planned, we rolled into Yushan National Park in the evening with night-time quickly approaching. We arrived at the parking lot in the dark and were welcomed with an arrogant park ranger that made it clear you cannot camp near the parking lot. So, we weren’t left with many options; we decided to camp 15mins away, outside the park boundaries- with hopes the park ranger would let us be. With no ranger in sight we set up tent, cooked dinner and sank a few beers. At around 3:30am we were woken up by some Taiwanese selling some Wasabi snacks. Soon after tour vans rolled in and it was a circus. There was no going back to sleep at this point- it felt like we were in the middle of a circus. Little did we know the tent was set up at a ‘scenic spot’ near an ancient tree. We brewed some strong coffee, packed up and scooted back to the parking lot.
We arrived at the visitor centre, got our park permit and paid the park fees. The park ranger we encountered the day before greeted us at the police station, to our surprise he treated us nicely and granted our police permit- we were officially set.
The hike on the first day was long, and for the most part in the trees. As we were approaching the Paiyun Lodge (our destination for the first night) the view opened up and we were greeted with big peaks. We arrived at the lodge around 4pm, checked in and just chilled out for the rest of the evening. The Paiyun Lodge is quite new and modern, with all the basic amenities you need. The lodge has no heating, but there is running water and electricity. We hit the hay around 8pm and arose to our alarm clock at 3am. We hiked the remaining 3kms to the summit quickly, passing all the tour groups. We had the summit to ourselves. The weather was cloudy and clear, but cold- I was glad I brought my warm mitts and down jacket. About 45mins later the masses arrived at the summit, it steadily got more congested at the peak. After shooting a tonne of photos we descended back to the lodge. With a quick power-nap, warm water and food we rolled out of the lodge by 9am. It was an overcast day and the rain was coming- we were thankful it held off for us. We descended the 10km trail quite fast and arrived at the trailhead around 3pm.
The day wasn’t over for us yet… we still had a 4 hour scooter ride ahead of us, set up camp, and cook dinner. As expected the rain came. Soaked and tired we found a pavilion at Sun Moon Lake, set the tent up, fired up the butane stove and were beyond disappointed to see the stove fail to ignite. After an hour or so the stove sparked, the night was now complete- we couldn’t have been happier.