Monday, August 24, 2009

Northern Cross Redux

Fishing boats in the early morning in I-lan waters.

This weekend I went back for another trip across the Northern Cross Island Highway (Riding the Northern Cross in June, Google maps with the route map from the Yongning Metro here).

Beginning the ride outside of Sanxia in Taipei County.

The climb begins. The first day is actually the hardest, opening with a long climb followed by a 9% grade out of Fuxing. After that climbing is steady but the grade is not difficult.

Clear skies, flowing water, green mountains. It doesn't get any better than this.

We cross the river on the lower suspension bridge.

Got some nice pics of the lovely red bridge.

After lunch, we puffed up the road next to chasms on one side and rock faces on the other.

Jeff (left) and Michael take a break from climbing.

Logged out area.

My son Zeb snaps a pic as Chris looks on.

Endless vistas....eying such sights, Chris opined that he'd never think of "Taoyuan County" in the same way.

This amazing rock face, layer upon layer of rock rising hundreds of meters above the river, brought everyone to the side of the road to take a picture.

Chris and Michael admire the view.

Small communities everywhere, yet we wondered how they could survive floods and slides.

A dam destroyed by flooding a while ago.

Chris poses jauntily on the suspension bridge going into Baling, where we stopped for the night at the CYC Hostel.

The suspension bridge offered lovely views of the lilac car bridge right next to it.

The rivers race, but the race for gravel always wins.

Entering Baling at 600 meters of altitude.

In the morning we arose to find this moth waiting for us.

My son takes his bike out of the hostel, which not only offers cheap sleeps, but also washers/dryers, and lets you store the bikes inside.

The second day requires an opening climb of 680 meters in ten kilometers, but offers amazing views of cliffs, chasms, and rivers.

Lots of roadkill, including bats and this strange mole/rat. We also found a viper run over by a car. It was moving, but only because ants were dragging it.

Lala Shan, the famous resort, is above the bridge where we stopped for breakfast.

The view from breakfast.

In the bright sunlight and clean air, all sorts of sounds wafted over to us, from hymns at the local Church, to the sound of someone's water boiling.

Here's where we had to cross the landslide last time.

An awesomely gorgeous day.

The little orange dot across the chasm on the road there is my son.

Plenty of bugs, as always.

....and a spider or two.

Descending into I-lan, lovely views of the plains below.

The Lanyang River and beyond it, I-lan town.

Monday morning we raced back up the coast to Keelung.

At 8 we arrived at the old tunnel cutting off the peninsula south of Fulong. A favorite of rental bikers, it is crowded on weekends. We waited for the tunnel to open at 8:30 (actually 8:45). The old Japanese train tunnel, 2 kms long, is an enjoyable break from the sun on the way up to coast.

As always, fisherman are out early.

We then took the bike path out of Fulong, crossing yet another suspension bridge, this one under repair.

The bike path.

Fog still lingered as we drove north.

And the stunningly clear day made it another unforgettable ride. Definitely coming back on this route next month -- and hope to see you there!
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Anonymous said...

Really nice shots. I love those coastal pics of the clouds hanging on the hills.

Chris M said...

Terrific log of the trip, Michael! It's enough to make anyone want to take up mountain cycling

Ashish said...

Awesome photos and commentary Michael

Tom said...

Michael - Great pics that give a taste of the beauty of Taiwan.

Craig Ferguson (@cfimages) said...

Beautiful photos of some beautiful countryside.

Why oh why doesn't the govt promote the eco tourism and cycle tourism opportunities that this country offers. They could be sitting on a potential gold mine in tourism revenue. All it needs is a little foresight.

Michael Turton said...

Thanks guys. Had perfect weather.

Mark Forman said...

Have to agree with Craig on all points. Nicely done.

Cara Lin Bridgman said...

That 'mole-rat' is a shrew. It is very common in settled areas. Eats insects. Is stinky. I've a few breeding in my compost pile. The Taiwanese call it the money shrew (Chien Shu).

Michael Turton said...

Thanks Cara! A shrew-d observation.