We woke up feeling energetic and determined to hit the road early, bound for Jhushan in Nantou. The weather forecast promised a lovely day with a zero percent chance of precipitation. As dawn broke and the sun started to shine, the stage was set for an awesome day of hiking the trails around Tianti (Sky Ladder).
We arrived at the trail entrance rather early to avoid the weekend crowds and the mid-day heat. However, it seemed that of a lot people had similiar thoughts as us because several hikers made their way to the starting point at the same time as we did. We paid our NT$50 admission fee per person and we were quickly on our way.
I was mentally preparing myself for a gruelling morning of up-hill climbing with lots of stairs; however, it was the opposite. I was greeted with hills and stairs going in the opposite direction. The easy part of the hike was at the beginning of the day. As I walked down all the stairs and the steep downward inclines, I couldn’t help but think that I needed to retrace the exact same steps later that day, only upward.
The walking pace was set by all the hikers in front of us. The trail and stairs were quite crowded which made passing difficult to near impossible. As we stroll at a snail’s pace, we first passed a bamboo forest and after awhile, an area craved out of a huge, super large cliff rock. We paused for awhile under the shade of the rock to cool off and rehydrate.
We continued on and it seemed that we had been walking for quite awhile. We came to a set of winding steel stairs that descended downward. Then, we could see it. The suspension bridge, a.k.a Sky Ladder, was right ahead.
It is called ‘Sky Ladder’ in Chinese because of its design. Apparently, it got its name because the bridge resembles a ladder descending from the sky into the valley. The suspension bridge has a total of 208 steps and is 136 meters in length.
Personally, I feel the design of the suspension bridge was quite different. It was the first suspension bridge I had ever seen with descending steps leading to the middle and then ascending steps on the other side.
I was quite nervous when I crossed the suspension bridge. Like I said before, there is something about being on a swinging, moving structure that makes me all tense and nervous inside. But I was not the only one. One of the other hikers had a little dog with her and the poor thing was shaking and shivering as it carefully placed one paw in front of the other.
There was a waterfall as well as a creek on the other side of the suspension bridge. We enjoyed the surrounding scenery before we made the upward journey back. We crossed the suspension bridge, climbed the steel stairs, passed the shaded rock area, continued up the stairs, followed the trail, passed the bamboo forest, and gave one last push towards the parking lot.
It was a tough upward climb back to the parking lot. I prefer to get the hard part of the hike over with at the beginning of the day and retrace my steps back to the starting point at a much easier pace. But, like I said before, as I walked down the steep inclines and stairs, I couldn’t help but think that I needed to climb back up everything later.
Several hikers opted to take the easy way out and paid $100 for a quick van ride up to the parking lot from the bamboo forest area. It was tempting but I never take the easy way out. I took my time and slowly strolled up the last few set of inclines and steps to the parking lot.
And I was never happier to drink the cold, iced water that waited for me in the cooler when we got back to the car!
What is your opinion regarding suspension bridges? And in your opinion, what is the best place hiking area?