Teapot Mountain (無耳茶壺山), On the dinosaur’s back

March is among the nicest months in Taiwan. Little rain, a warm-but-not-yet-burning sun, low humidity, and a frequent light breeze make for ideal conditions for all kinds of outdoor activities! I was thus happy that a couple of friends and not-yet-but-may-will-be-friends reached out for a day trip to Ruifang district (瑞芳區).

Teapot Mountain (無耳茶壺山) is a favorite destination from Taipei, accessible in just 90-ish minutes by train or – possibly even more convenient, wouldn’t it be for the sometimes breakneck driving style of public bus drivers – by direct bus even. The view is breathtaking, with the old gold mining village Jinguashih (金瓜石) to the south, Taiwan’s northern cost to the west, and the gentle hills towards Yilan in the east. Yet, for the alpine hiker, the path itself is a small disappointment: As so often in Taiwan, instead of snaking lavishly around the hills and coddling the hiker with the view, it attacks the mountain directly, with steep stairs that catch much of the wanderer’s attention and stamina.

This changes a bit after the tea pot-shaped rock formation that gives the hill its name. After some actual climbing requiring ropes next to unsecured cliffs (much much less common!), the path winds along a sharp crest, upward towards a steep and rocky ridge. It carries the great name “Stegosaurus Ridge” (劍龍稜/茶壺山) thanks to its towering rock tiles that remind of the eponymous beasts’ back. The hike is challenging but fun – and last Sunday, it once again awakened my inner ibex.