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This was hardcore!! Six hours of solid uphill followed by a night in an overcrowded bunk house in the freezing cold!

Pre-Hike photo opportunity
We set off at the crack of dawn (after waiting half an hour for Russell and Ellen) for the long drive to the mountains via Ilan. Got there about 11 in the morn and the weather was perfect. We were made to watch a ridiculous introductory film about the area and then after getting our backpacks sorted it was showtime.
It was straight into an uphill and there was to be no let up. Svetlana was struggling and at one point she actually wanted to give up and go back. it was not easy for me either and I was delighted to reach the first hut after two hours and the chance for a break
We were originally scheduled to stay in this hut, but it was only two hours into the trail and would have meant a hell of a climb the next day. Luckily we were moved to one higher up....but that meant another four hours plus of hard core hike....
By the time we got to the "Crying Slope" or "Trail of Tears" as I preferred to call it my head was already aching and I was getting very breathless...delerium was on the verge of setting in!
During the last part of the walk we had to endure groups of shouty people who were really starting to do my altitude ridden head in. There was one group of University age students who had made the east peak and were yelling at the tops of their voices. If a Kalishnikov had been handy, I would have wasted the lot of them. Anyway, despite all that there was glorious sunshine and amazing views.
It was getting dark by the time the stragglers (Bear and I) arrived at camp and it was decidedly cold. There were about 100 people staying in the hut which was just a long sleeping board on two levels with numbers to allocate sleeping spots. Around 6.00 the place was buzzing with people preparing their our case rehydrated sachets of some rice like muck! By 7pm everyone was in bed and we were told to keep quiet...
Russell, meanwhile had cracked open the vodka and proceeded to get very drunk with help from Kearney and Edwards. They drank two bottles but luckily couldn't find the 3rd as Alex Moga had it and nobody could find him. After I had gone to bed and fallen asleep I was woken by a drunk Kearney who had crawled into my bunk and was calling, "Moga...Moga." He was on the hunt for the missing bottle but despite their determined efforts no one could find it.
The next morning it was still cold but too uncomfortable to sleep in. Watched Edwards and Kearney set off for the peak. I would have joined them if we'd had another day but the thought of fighting to the summit followed by the long walk back to the car was too much. The Bear, Ellen and I went off for a more relaxed stroll around the area.
Walked into an "enchanted forest" and came across of "ents" who had been there since the beginning of time...
It was like a proper autumn with the leaves changing colour...You don't get that in Taipei.
The Bear and Ellen went back after a while but I continued, convinced that our trail would meet up with the main Snow Mountain trail, and I was right. I walked to the 9km marker before turning back...just 3km short of the peak.
The toilets were a bit primitive and used an eco system for disposing of the waste matter. This involved turning a handle that mixed all the poo up and sent it out to dry in the sun...Was not a pleasant experience as there were flies buzzing around everywhere.
In thee early afternoon it was time to head back to the car. Moga and wife who hadn't been seen since 6pm the previous evening appeared and were miffed because nobody had told them about the morning hikes....Well, the lazy buggers should have got up earlier. The sun was once more blazing under a clear blue sky which made hiking all the more was too hot!! Made it down in just three hours, half the time of coming up!

Two days of pain!!

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

It was a tough hike and it pushed me to my limits, but a good experience nonetheless and I hope to do something similar again...but over several days!