I went up to Wulai again to do a further survey of typhoon damage to hiking trails and swimming spots, and found that the situation was a lot worse even than the worst of my fears. My first goal was to check out the Neidong Forest Recreation Area (內洞國家森林遊樂區), and particularly the state of the stream there, while also hoping to have a swim if I could find one of my favourite pools in good enough condition for swimming. But to my tremendous dismay, I found the car park at the entrance sealed off, with notices saying that because of the damage from Typhoon Soudelor, it was closed for restoration work and would remain closed until at least next July. Next July, for goodness sake! My friend and I went in toward the entrance gate to see if we might still be able to get a look at the state of the damage, but a balding little man (a Forestry Bureau official) came running out of the office there blowing repeatedly on a whistle, gesturing at us to go away, and screeching “No! No! Cannot come! Go! Go!” His officiousness annoyed me greatly, but once we’d approached him and calmed him down, and got him to understand that he could converse with us in Chinese rather than jabbering at us in broken English, we were able to engage in a fairly reasonable conversation with him and extract information about the state of damage there and elsewhere. It was all bad news._______________________
He told us that the Fuba Trail (福巴越嶺古道 ) from Fushan (福山) to Lalashan (拉拉山) was in a terrible state and wouldn’t be accessible for a very long time. Likewise, there was no way through to the Ayu Stream (阿玉溪) and Tonghou (桶后), where he said the damage was especially serious. So it means that there’s nowhere beyond Wulai Township that’s open for hiking or river-tracing, and it will be thus for a very long time. So depressing! Even the pleasant little trail on the inside of the Nanshi River (南勢溪), which you can walk along to Neidong after crossing the old Japanese era suspension bridge, has been sealed shut at both ends. So all that’s left to attract any visitors to Wulai is the hot-spring area, where a fairly high proportion of the hotels and businesses seem to be up and running again.
We also checked out the Jiajiuliao Trail (加九寮步道) that leads from Red River Valley (紅河谷) to Bear Hollow (熊空) in Sanxia (三峽). The first part of the trail wasn’t in too bad shape, still passable despite several small landslides and washouts. But further along, the rickety little bridges that used to take hikers somewhat precariously over the trail-cutting streams and gullies had all been completely washed away. My photo shows the first of them, where ropes have now been put in place for people to use to get down into the gully bed and then back up on the other side. This shouldn’t be a problem for any able-bodied hiker, but the next one looked a lot more difficult, and since there would almost certainly be even greater difficulties further along, and we were getting a bit short of time, we decided to turn back from there. All very dismal indeed...
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