The summer is here and that means, for good or bad, some rain for us in the south. We haven't had significant rain since typhoon Morakot hit us last September - the result is reservoirs are low on much-needed water - and a real fear of landslide and mudflows. Morakot changed everything. This year the authorities will take no chances and are likely to close roads/cancel permits at the first sign of typhoons or heavy rain.
On recent trips to Yushan (Jade Mountain) preparations for renovating cabins and trails have been very visible. Recent stable weather conditions have allowed construction materials to be helicoptered in.
The main building is to be completely rebuilt 'this year'. Initially the medical center (the wooden cabin on the west side of the main lodge) is to be converted to general accommodation. Rumor has it (why can this not be formally announced?) the mountain will be closed for the month of September to allow for more major construction work.
No applications are being accepted for Yuanfong Cabin during July. As I understand it, the cabin is only being renovated (new roof, new water tank) and not expanded.
There is lots of work being done on the badly damaged Batongguan trail from Yinu Waterfall to the alpine meadow, and from Yushan Main Peak to Batongguan. These sections are still treacherous - and rightfully closed. There is some hope though that they may be open later this year - crucial for all the remoter Yushan N.P. treks.
Still closed, some hope it will be reopened in the fall (October is being mentioned). The western section (Jiaxian-Baolai-Meishan-Yakao-Xiangyang) of the Southern Cross is effectively closed. On the long term, the approach to Xiangyang (Siangyang) may only be possible from Taidong. The cabins on the way to Jiaming Lake are to be reserveable online. This should be an improvement on the current system where the first people to have someone get ahead and 'occupy' spaces caused some resentment.
Other trails around Taiwan.
Generally open - but lets see what a season of typhoons does!
Yushan National Park are eager to improve the experience of foreigners in the park. Please complete their questionnaire. http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dGoweUJIMFN2Rk1XNzNCVVRhT1ZpUXc6MA
The hostel (Wuling 'Cabin' 武陵山莊 not Wuling 'Hostel' 賓館) at the north end of Wuling Farm is closed for renovation.
Coming down Snow Mountain last week.
Have been answering quite a few inquiries about mountain porters recently. Some FAQs.
Q. Are they reliable? Do they speak English?
A. Most porters in Taiwan come from the branch of the Bunun Tribe in southern Nantou County. They are reliable, strong, excellent cooks, and often good singers. All round great guys, but don't speak English.
Q. How much do they cost? Can Barking Deer help make arrangements?
A. The standard rate for carrying up to 30kg is NT$3-4000 per day. They must be booked in advance - you will not just find them waiting at trailheads for hire. Yes, we can help with arrangements.
Q. What else can they provide?
A. They have pre-positioned sleeping bags at various popular cabins (including Paiyun, 369, 99, Nanhu, Jiaming, Juniper), and usually have someone there cooking excellent food. Must be arranged in advance.
Will post soon.