Seven Star Mountain - it just sounds like a magical place. some of the mountain names around Taipei and Yangmingshan don't make much sense to me, but Mount Qixing has a beautiful translation. and of course - beautiful views.
my neighborhood is not very far from Yangmingshan National Park, but this was my first visit. some friends from Hsinchu came up last weekend and invited me to hike Seven Star Mountain with them, and of course I accepted. Mount Qixing [ 七星山 or Mount Cising ] gets its name from seven peaks, and at 1,120 meters tall it is the highest in northern Taiwan.
we started our hike from the Xiaoyoukeng end - a giant volcanic crater - because the climb up is a little less steep that way. the skies were mostly clear and the sun was bright as we sweat our way up to the first peak. vents steaming sulfur-scented gas peeked through the tall grasses, adding little poofs of white to the scenery.
the stone step trail led us up, and up, and up. we stopped for a breather at the first observation deck. the weather had started to haze over, so our views of Taipei and the north coast weren't as clear as they could have been. but what we could see - was pretty incredible.
at the main peak of Mount Qixing, the post marker was surrounded by photo-takers. we got in a shot and then we decided to get goofy with a yoga pose photo like all the cool tourists do. thus, warrior II. [just be glad we nixed the initial idea of downward facing dog.] all the locals at the top thought we were hilarious, and took pictures of us taking pictures. just another day in the life of a waiguoren.
after our photo break, we made our way to the east peak. the views from here were just as stunning, though the area is smaller and people seem to move through instead of lingering like they do at the main peak.
the way down was a series of steep stairs, and we were sweaty with shaky calves by the time we reached the bottom. [which I think explains the lack of photos from that point.]
it might be stretching to say this trail is in my backyard - but on a clear day I can see Mount Qixing from my neighborhood so I think it counts. Seven Star Mountain may be my favorite Taipei hike yet. the climb was definitely strenuous, but the views were incredible. one might even be inclined to make cheesy puns about rating this hike seven stars... but I'll spare you that for now.