The Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

Of all my experiences from living in Taiwan for 9 months, backpacking the Holy Ridge Trail in 5 days was one of the highlights. The Holy Ridge (or “雪山聖稜線” in Chinese) is an awe-inspiring, often razor-thin ridge of mountains in Taiwan’s Shei-pa National Park. It spans from north to south, connecting the famous Snow Mountain (“雪山” / “Xueshan”) all the way to Mt. Dabajian (“大霸尖山” / “Dabajianshan”). At 12,749 ft, Snow Mountain is Taiwan’s most famous mountain and second highest. As we traversed this ridge in an O-shaped loop, our views spanned the mountain range and we summited several peaks along the way and climbed more than a few sketchy scrambles. From sparse, steep rocky bits to lush forest hiking, this trip had some unforgettable views and even better memories.

The Holy Ridge, Day 1

We started off the 5-day trek with a TON of elevation gain. I didn’t hydrate enough in preparation and found myself winded and dizzy. I was feeling so rough that Isaac ended up strapping my backpack on to his chest. Johannes, our other trekking buddy, captured this moment of defeat/relief.

Talus slope on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

Surveying the trail as we come to a talus slope.

Taking a break on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

taking a break on our first peak of many on this ridge!

One of the views on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

A view of the Holy Ridge.

Pano shot on the trail

Pano shot.

more views!

check out that view!

Headed up another peak on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

Making our way up another peak.

Sunset on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

A beautiful sunset view on Night 2.

Posing at another peak on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

Another peak! Holla!

directions to Snow Mountain on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

Snow Mountain, or Xue/Syue Shan, is a sought-after peak for many Taiwanese hikers.

Steep section on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

It’s a long way down…

Jumping for joy on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

We had enough time one morning to leave our packs behind at the mountain hut where we had stayed the night before to quickly scramble up this humble little peak. It ended up having some of the best views of the whole trip!

Tree pose on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

Feelin grounded.

balancing on a peak on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

I call this the booty-poppin’ shot.

Mountain hut on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

One of the several mountain huts that became our shelter along the way. We planned our trip around these various shelters, which ensured that we didn’t need to pack tents to save weight! Though in our registration process many of these huts were supposed to be filled with other applicants, when we got to them on the trail most of them were empty. It was great to unwind after a long day with a cozy shelter all to ourselves!

Forested section on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

The trail dips in elevation below the timberline and winds you through the forest. It felt so good to be surrounded by trees.

Rock climbing at Mt. Sumida on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

One of the more treacherous passaged on the trail. Mt. Sumida has a reputation for this tricky, steep bit with old knotted ropes to guide people down. I’m not very surefooted, so Isaac is helping me find my way down.

mist rolling in on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

Some mist started rolling in.

Pausing on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

Feeling on top of the world!

Trekking along on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

Trekking along.

Lunching and hammocking on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

A lunchtime spot. Hammock key for ultimate relaxation.

Another steep section with ropes on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

Another steep rocky section. Not for those who are afraid of heights.

Feast of champions at the end of our trip on the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan

On our last night after having completed the bulk of the trip, we shared a GIANT hut with many other Taiwanese hikers who came to summit Snow Mountain that day. They were celebrating with a massive feast of pork belly, fresh soup, and hot steamed rice (all cooked on a ton of camp stoves) and kindly shared their feast with us. After several days of dehydrated food, this was the best meal of our lives. Pictured here is the leader of the group who invited us in a poured us shots of (very) strong Taiwanese liquor. He kept saying, “today is your lucky day!” A lucky day indeed.

At the end of the Holy Ridge Trail in Taiwan!!

Finally at the end of the trail! As we started nearing civilization again, we ran into some officials who checked to make sure we had the right certificates to be there. Then they stamped it for us!

A close-up of the stamp we got.

A close-up of the stamp. Thanks, Shei-pa National Forest officials!

Waiting for the bus to arrive, celebrating with some coke and pringles.

Waiting for the bus to arrive, celebrating with some coke and pringles.

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Mia McMahon

About Mia McMahon

I’m constantly trying to learn more in everything from branding to social media to user experience to SEO. I live-tweet a lot. I’m studying communications/marketing/internet entrepreneurship and you can follow my journey at meetmia.com.

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