Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Morakot - and hiking.

Morakot aftermath.

Firstly, thanks to everyone that has contacted me recently gingerly enquiring after my welfare. I (and my various immediate friends) are alive and well but shocked by the devastation in the areas we know and love so well. The destruction from Morokot is truly breathtaking and will be with us for a long time. I'm confident though in the Taiwanese people's ability to overcome the various challenges ahead.

If you know me, you know I'm pretty cynical about various groups aims and methods - but not the ones below. I encourage you to donate - money, goods or time.

Tzu Chi Foundation
The Red Cross (Taiwan)
World Vision Taiwan

The best way to help in the long term is to visit these valleys and mountains, buy their produce, take an interest in their issues, and let others know how beautiful it is here (promotion was mediocre before, let's change things!). Start planning now how you will encourage and support these communities in 3 months and 3 years time, not just 3 days time.

For the time being the mountains (both high and lower down) in the south will be closed. This includes all of Yushan National Park. The key approach roads, 21, 20, 18, 16 near the park have been damaged to varying degrees. Do not attempt to enter without permission, as well as being very dangerous, the authorities (rightfully) will have no patience with those flouting the law.

Obviously our fall schedule will have to be extensively revised. Some key trails may not be open for many months, if not years.

I will formulate a new schedule of hikes soon, and will post updates relating to trails on this page as I become aware of them. Do not go near these places until sure they are safe and your presence is not impeding rescue/recovery work.

Latest conditions (mid August 2009) based on various reports and personal experience:

Yushan (Jade Mountain) Main Peak trail: The approaches to the trailhead via Chaiyi/Alishan and Nantou/Shueili will be closed for many weeks at least. The actual trail is probably in reasonable condition. Permits applications will not be processed until October at the earliest.

Southern Cross-Island Highway (number 20): Extensive damage, will be impassable for many months if not years.

Alishan: Approach roads 18 and 21 are badly damaged and will remain closed for several weeks to, when opened will only be suitable for 4WD vehicles. Alishan Forest Railway badly damaged, may be several months before operational.

Namasia (formerly Sanming): Extensive damage, may be open by land to emergency vehicles in the next few weeks.
Jiaxian (Jaihsien) town: Badly damaged, open for emergency vehicles
Maolin, Wutai, Liokuei, Baolai, Laonung, Meinung, Tenjihr, Sanping Yellow/Purple butterfly valleys etc: Extensive damage to infrastructure, some places may be open for emergency traffic within days/weeks.

Jiaming (Chaiming, Meteor) Lake: Approach to trailhead will be closed for months. Trail reported to be badly damaged.

All long trails in or near Yushan Park such as the Southern Section Two/One/Three, Batongguan Trail etc : Approach roads closed, trails likely to be damaged (probably extensivly on the Dungpu to Batongguan Meadow/Guangao section), may remain closed for months.

Snow Mountain: Closed for the moment. Access to Wuling and Guanwu possible, but Sheipa National Park are not issuing permits for any of the mountains at the moment. Popular trail conditions likely to be fine. Dalu Forest Road leading to Daba probably damaged.

Jinshui Camp Historic trail: Reported to be badly damaged. May not be repaired for many many months.

Other trails: Assume most high mountains trails are either inaccessible, closed, or access being discouraged unless hearing otherwise.