Mudslides and leeches: hiking in Pingxi, Taiwan.

On Saturday, March 29, I went hiking with the infamous Taiwan Adventure Group. The 15 of us took Bus 795 from the outskirts of Taipei over to the town and began our hike.

Two roads diverged in a green wood, and sorry that I could not travel both.

The path wasn’t too dangerous, but it did get tiring for me. I was out of shape after a month of sitting in airplanes, hotels, and taxis.

View of Pingxi and surrounding towns. This area is known for sky lanterns, the same thing portrayed in Tangled.

We saw a bunch as we were hiking. You can barely pick it out in this photo.

Climbing up a super steep flight of stairs that brought us to the top of this rock.

The view from the rock. We later climbed up both of these other trails.

These paths are legit steep, I was super tired.

View of the original rock that we stood upon. Where we stood now was much higher then.

After that, the fun began. A flash thunderstorm came out of nowhere. Being the paranoid guy, I panicked because we were on top of a damn mountain. Rain was quickly pouring down (this isn’t whimsy California rain where it drips once every few seconds). I requested everyone turn off their cell phones to not attract lightning any more, then we started walking very fast down the mountain.

Instead of taking the same road back, we continued going forward. Looking back, I’m not sure why we did this. We went down a path that was particularly muddy and wet, and I didn’t think too much of it at the time – it was from the rain, right?

Wrong. Ten minutes later, the trail had a ton of loose rocks, was covered in moss, and was very muddy. We were definitely off the road. We were going down the path of a river.

I didn’t take any pictures of these next two hours. We were lost, and I feared for an incoming flash flood. Moreover, the river was so wild that any branches we grabbed onto snapped from ongoing decomposition. I fell and slid down the steep “trail” over a dozen times and was covered in mud.

I was also first or second going down the trail, thus was nervous about where I was headed. I was also worried that the more people stepped on the same path, the more unstable it would become. Lastly, it was late afternoon, and I feared we would not get back to civilization on time. We started encountering running water, which raised my fears of the potential for a flash flood. Man vs. Wild is real.

Long story short, we found our way back to the back of some farmer’s backyard two hours later. Every one of us was covered in mud, many had cuts and bruises.

We cleaned ourselves off as best as possible in a 7 Eleven, then ate a hearty dinner.

On the bus ride back, we saw a leech wiggling around on the bus floor. I assumed it had attached to one of us when we had trotted through a couple of thigh-deep ponds.

When I got home, I discovered blood on my socks.

Turns out that I had been bitten by a leech. One of the hikers also let us know that she had three bites.

Interesting day, and most scared I’ve been in a long time. Glad I survived!

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