[Mountain of Life, Death & Rotten Eggs] YangMingShan P Route Challenge 陽金P字山道

[Mountain of Life, Death & Rotten Eggs] YangMingShan P Route Challenge 陽金P字山道

Route Summary:

  • Event: 陽金P字山道
  • Starting Location: TianMu Sports Park, Taipei (天母運動公園).
  • Length: 88km. Elevation gain: 2400 m.
  • Hill profile: Very Hard: two major hills, one at the end. Two very steep sections, one at the end.
  • Comments:
    • WARNING: Be careful when descending! As YangMingShan rains a lot and is constantly in mist, roads can be very slippery and grows mosses at roadside.
  • Good for:
    • All-in-one training (long hill climb, steep hill climb and long sprinting).
    • Rainy day technical descend.
  • Route Highlights:
    • Volcanic geology and rotten egg smell.
    • Massive cemeteries.
    • Seashells temple.
    • Terraces.
    • Ocean shore.
    • Power plants (wind and nuclear).

The YangMingShan National Park (陽明山國家公園) is situated north of Taiwan’s capital Taipei.

With its volcanic geology (hot springs the most popular), unique cultural history and having the highest elevation route near Taipei, YangMingShan is special for Taiwan’s cycling community, with the P-shaped route constantly being the top three popular climbing routes (along with Wuling and Tataka).

DSC03281

Unique cone-shape volcanic hills at YangMingShan.

For centuries the power of volcanic activities produces evidence of lives at southern part of YangMingShan: Beitou hot springs (北投溫泉), historical buildings and major park recreational areas.

DSC03204

Major college town area of Chinese Culture University (中國文化大學) at south of park’s main entrance.

On the other hand, what fewer people know is that the northern part of YangMingShan holds things that don’t belong to daily lives, like massive cemeteries and a nuclear power plant. The place for the dead.

DSC03310

SanZhi Public Cemetery (三芝示範公墓).

DSC03324

Finally, death can be put into life, just like this temple’s TaiChi’s symbol made by dead seashells.

 

It would be great fun to explore these many aspects of YangMingShan. Our rides began at TianMu Sports Park (天母運動公園). TianMu is famous for having many foreigner families.

DSC03142

Park in the dark.

DSC03143

DSC03144

DSC03146

Check-in booths.

DSC03147

Dancing grandmas. Shake it off.

DSC03148

Riding around the field towards the starting point.

DSC03150

DSC03152

Everyone in position.

DSC03153

Bastards trying to cut in line from the side road. Too bad they were blocked by the staff.

DSC03154

Starting point and Taipei night city view.

DSC03163

Soon the route went to State #2 Jia and started the climb towards YangMingShan.

DSC03166

DSC03172

Bus signs. There were lots of city buses riding this route. The wired fence is part of the National Security Bureau (國家安全局), Taiwanese CIA equivalence.

DSC03175

Private HuaXing Elementary School (華興國小).

As Taiwanese people consider living on the mountains a privilege, this hilly section contained lots of high-end single houses (single house is extremely expensive in crowded Taipei area).

DSC03178

Fancy house entrance.

DSC03179

Along the way there was the house of Lin Yutang (林語堂故居). Lin was a former famous writer and Chinese classics english translator.

DSC03181

DSC03182

DSC03184

DSC03192

YangMingShan Elementary School.

DSC03196

More big houses.

DSC03198

There were many bamboo here, hence this area was named “Lower Bamboo Forest” (下竹林)

The route soon entered the last major town area south of YangMingShan, the college town of Chinese Culture University and Taipei European School.

DSC03204

Can you find the Golden Arch?

Passing the town, mist started to set in. Also the air started to smell like rotten eggs, a sign that we were entering hot spring area.

DSC03207

DSC03210

DSC03211

On the far right roadside was the YangMingShan National Park boundary sign.

DSC03214

Taipei Teacher Continual Education Center, just next to hot spring area.

DSC03216

DSC03217

We soon turn left on the road. Here buildings started to be replaced by thick forest. Also here was the main YangMingShan visitor center.

DSC03218

DSC03220

DSC03221

Left road led to Beitou, Taipei’s most famous hot spring area.

DSC03222

DSC03223

The main park visitor center sign.

DSC03224

Trees with and without leaves.

DSC03225

DSC03231

After riding in the forest a little bit the route passed through XiaoYouKeng Bridge (小油坑橋), a bridge below a fumarole. In the mist the fumarole was impossible to see from below.

DSC03235

DSC03237

DSC03240

Viewing bridge below the fumarole.

DSC03241

A little bit further away was the route’s first rest stop at the XiaoYouKeng parking lot.

DSC03242

DSC03244

DSC03245

You could constantly hear the steam sound from the drain cover.

DSC03246

DSC03247

The road we have been riding eventually connected with Route #101. #101 and State #2 Jia together formed a loop around YangMingShan. Together with the straight section to Taipei , the entire route was a “P” shape, hence the event name.

DSC03248

Going left…

DSC03249

DSC03250

Onto narrow, crappy #101.

DSC03251

On this section of #101 one could see the beautiful valley ZhuZhiHu (竹子湖. Literally means “Lake of Bamboo”) and the XiaoYouKeng fumarole

DSC03252

DSC03257

The valley.

DSC03256

Here you can see unusual, stream-like thick mist going upward at left mountain slope. Those were steams coming out of the fumarole.

DSC03258

DSC03261

Stray dogs. They were very common in YangMingShan area, quite unusual for a national park.

DSC03262

Continued going up, we finally reached the highest point at the left side of YangMingShan loop: ErZiPing Visitor Center (二子坪), a dip between two peaks.

DSC03265

Still closed visitor booth.

DSC03266

Trail head to Mt. DaTun (大屯山), one of the two peaks.

Here we started the great descend down to the northern part of YangMingShan.

DSC03268

DSC03269

DaTun Natural Park, another rest area.

DSC03270

DSC03271

DSC03272

Crossing the dip.

DSC03280

DSC03281

The many cone-shape peaks of YangMingShan.

DSC03282

DSC03283

DSC03284

Looking back at the dip where we came from.

At the bottom we passed through the outskirt of SanZhi (三芝). Here it was a very rural place full of something unexpected (see below)

DSC03288

DSC03291

DSC03294

What was that tall building in the mist?

It turned out that there were three big cemetery complex in this area, even of different religions. Throughout the northern part of YangMingShan there were many such cemeteries along the route.

DSC03296

Cemetery sign.

DSC03297

DSC03298

Another cemetery to your right!

Also along the northern part of YangMingShan was terraces, agricultural lands built like stairs.

DSC03299

DSC03300

DSC03301

If we continued on Route #101 we would get to SanZhi’s downtown area. Instead we took a sharp right and onto the QingXi local road.

DSC03302

Abundant rainfall created lots of small creeks here.

DSC03304

DSC03305

After some climb we reached our second rest stop… just next to a big public cemetery!

DSC03307

DSC03308

Giant TuDiGong (土地公) statue.

DSC03309

The cemetery. I just had a great idea of going green: put solar panels on them!

DSC03310

DSC03312

DSC03313

DSC03314

DSC03315

DSC03316

Both the living and the dead shared parts of YangMingShan.

DSC03317

DSC03318

I found an interesting temple not far away from the cemetery rest stop when planing for the ride. It was called  “the Seashells Temple (三義貝殼廟)”, a temple whose interior was made by seashells. Here the dead was brought back to life via arts and people’s will.

(The temple was not right on the route. You have to take a short detour to visit it.)

DSC03319

The temple’s exterior looked just like a warehouse. Here was the entrance.

DSC03320

DSC03321

Normal temple painting was all replaced by seashells.

DSC03322

The seashell dragon.

DSC03323

Seashell dragon pillar.

DSC03324

Seashell TaiChi symbol.

DSC03325

Dual Phoenix ceiling decoration.

DSC03326

DSC03327

DSC03328

DSC03329

After visiting the Seashell Temple I got back to course. The course descended for a while and before hitting the shore, again got onto even rural local roads and ascended.

DSC03330

It started raining around here, making the lens a bit blur.

DSC03332

DSC03334

DSC03337

DSC03340

Another type of terraces. This time it was wet for growing rice.

DSC03341

DSC03342

DSC03343

Rain, mist and rice terraces. Very mystic.

DSC03344

Interesting natural image distortion by water on the lens.

After battling through a steep hill, the road connected back to Route 101 and we started heading toward the shore city Shimen (石門).

DSC03345

Descending through Miscanthus fields .

DSC03346

DSC03347

Shimen city.

DSC03350

Here we had our 3rd rest stop at the town’s office, before we tacking 13km of shore road.

DSC03351

DSC03353

DSC03354

Heading toward the First Nuclear Plant!

DSC03356

It said “Five Dragon (Sea) Palace”.

DSC03357

Shimen Stone Arch.

DSC03361

DSC03362

DSC03364

DSC03366

Wind turbines.

DSC03369

Along the shore road was the First Nuclear Power Plant situated at a valley. Here near the north east part of Taiwan shore, the mountain slopes went directly into the sea, creating magnificent landscapes.

DSC03372

DSC03375

DSC03378

DSC03381

DSC03384

Nuclear plant monument.

DSC03387

DSC03390

DSC03391

DSC03394

CaoLi Town (草里).

DSC03397

DSC03400

Soon we would enter JinShan District (金山) and head back to YangMingShan.

DSC03401

DSC03404

DSC03406

DSC03409

It said “Taiwan North Shore Art Association”.

DSC03410

DSC03414

Same as Kenting, traces of abandoned buildings from over-development could be seen in JinShan.

DSC03419

Dharma Drum Mountain (法鼓山) sign, one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Taiwan. 

DSC03420

DSC03421

JinShan rural view.

DSC03424

DSC03429

DSC03432

“Nuclear Disaster Local Command Center” building at the intersection of State #2 (the road along the shore) and State #2 Jia (the road heading to YangMingShan).

DSC03433

A yam statue. JinShan is famous for its yam.

DSC03434

DSC03441

DSC03442

DSC03448

At YangMingShan’s park boundary sign here we had the last rest stop. Prepare for tacking the second major climb in this event.

DSC03450

DSC03451

DSC03452

“Fish Road Old Trail Farm”. This area had a lot of agricultural plantation.

DSC03454

DSC03455

Recently closed beautiful BaYien Village (八菸聚落). Due to disrespectful visitors destroying local crops and littering the villagers decided to close the village on the weekend. Hope this teaches a lesson to some Taiwanese that greater freedom only comes with greater responsibility.

DSC03456

DSC03459

There was another fumarole area along this side of road. A bridge was required to cross through it.

DSC03460

DSC03463

DSC03469

A tree grown on a big rock.

DSC03471

DSC03472

Main YangMinShan ridge was again visible.

At the route’s last km it turned onto a very steep hill, making almost all cyclists walking their bikes. The finish line ended at the MungHuan Lake (夢幻湖) parking lot. The lake holds the only native quillwort: Isoetes taiwanensis (台灣水韮).

DSC03473

DSC03474

DSC03475

Overall it was a great and challenging ride. Although the mist blocked out some great views, it created the mystic feel that emphasized YangMingShan’s profound effect on life and death.

Check Out My Taiwan Bike Routes Map for More Ride Reports!