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Most of the lads were off to the Philippines for Russell's stag weekend...I meanwhile, signed up with Taiwan Adventures for a jaunt in darkest Nantou County with eleven other folk.

Driving down on Friday night, we stayed in a Bed and Breakfast, which was in fact just two floors for us to crash on. The next morning we were up at 6:30 and feasted on a full English breakfast....Ya, as if!! It was the traditional Taiwanese "Xi Fan" of watery rice gruel, sweet potato, egg, pickled turnip, gluten and peanuts. I wasn't looking forward to it, but it was actually pretty good! Here you can see us getting ready to head off for the start of the hike.
We started hiking to the trailhead, but then along came a bus so we all hopped aboard so save our precious legs!
Off the bus, and on to the start of the hike
Me, caught in the act of videoing
There was no gentle start to the walk. We got a bus to the start and it was straight up with ladders and ropes. Luckily I was travelling light, unlike some of my companions!

After the tough start it was a fairly easy forest track for about five miles. A few dodgy sections where landslides had wrecked the path meant we had to use ropes.
Halfway along the trail and here we are, deep in the mountains
All fun and japes in the early stages
We were running way behind schedule as a couple of the girls had super sized backpacks which slowed them down. It was decided that one of the leaders, Neil, would turn left at this junction down to the lake and camp there for the night, while the hardcore continued on to the cave.
The trail took us past the lake and as you can see, it was eerily misty. You couldn't see which was mist and which was fog.
It had taken six hours to get to the junction where we split up, but in truth it had been a fairly straightforward stroll. Now for the tough bit, a steep decent to a river bed.
A river bed with giant boulders...a completely different proposition.
The fog kept coming and going, but the main concern was the time...would we get to the cave before dark?
Looking a little concerned...I was starting to get tired!
There were a lot of up and downs and we arrived about forty minutes later than expected and of course it was pitch dark! A group of Taiwanese were already there and had set up a fire...It was hard to find my way across the cave floor it was so dark!
A very rough nights sleep! I didn't bring any kind of mattress and the ground was uneven and rock hard. I couldn't sleep very well and got up at one point to walk around. Got stung by some nettles, but at least I could see because the moon was out. Up at 6:30 for a morning drink.
More of an overhang than a cave, but as you can see, fairly huge!
Looking back down after we left...One group was still there chilling.
We hiked back to the lake to meet the others...and to have breakfast. It looked very different in the daytime! The lake has only been formed since the big earthquake of 1999; it redirected the river, which filled up this valley and consequently killed all the trees.
The three others had camped on the lake shore and when we arrived they set off. We wanted to eat and would catch them up later.
A view of the lake from up high. I managed to get the picture just before the fog came rolling in.
We had some rain in the morning, so it was a muddy trail all the way back.
Saw a toad hiding out in a tree trunk!
Got back in half the time it took going out. Here is the inevitable team photo.

The full weekend's exploits

If you can't watch the embedded video, click here

There were times when I thought my legs would fall off, but it was a good weekend and we were lucky with the weather as it rained the whole time in Taipei. Will definitely attend some more Taiwan Adventures in the future