One of the many things that set Kang Chiao apart from other schools is the focus on extra-curricular activities. Each grade level has a special event: Singapore Trip, Sun Moon Lake swim (泳渡日月潭), Jia Ming Lake hike (圓夢嘉明湖), Cross-Island walk (橫跨中橫), and Round-Island biking (單車環島)…etc. It is really quite an impressive list. This year I have the great opportunity to join the grade 8s on their Jia Ming Lake hike.
The hike itself was 3 days 2 nights, which included two of Top 100 peaks (百岳) in Taiwan. They are Sancha Mountain (三叉山, 3496m) and Siangyang Mountain (向陽山, 3603m). As for the lake itself, at the altitude of 3310m, it is a very special sight. Scholars first hypothesized in 2000 that the lake is formed due to a meteor crash. However, material usually associated with meteor crash were not found at the site. In 2003, another scholar hypothesized the lake were remnants of a glacier. This was later confirmed in 2010.
I have done several major hikes before. Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (failed to summit, made it to Kibo Hut, 4700m), Mt. Kinabalu (4100m) in Malaysia, and Dabajian Mountain (大霸尖山, 3490m) in Taiwan were all unique in their own way. The biggest difference is that this time I was hiking with students and there were no porters to carry my stuff for me! I guess I had it good before.
My body is quite sensitive to altitude and have struggled with High Altitude Conditions in the past. With Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kinabalu, I took Diamox, a type of medicine that helps the body deal with lowered oxygen concentration in the air. With Dabajian Mountain, however, I was fine and made it to the top without any significant discomfort. So I figured, “No problem, I’ll be fine this time.” My friends around me all felt that after 4700m at Mt. Kili and 4100m at Kinablu, a mere 3300m should be no problem. Boy, was I wrong. I started feeling headaches first night at 向陽山屋 (2850m), and had to consciously, and with great effort, pace my breath as I climbed even higher. Thankfully I had some painkillers with me and also got a Diamox tablet from the team physicians.
The hike was beautiful – absolutely stunning. It always surprises me how beautiful scenery gets as you go up. And how quickly it can turn and change for the worse if it starts to rain. There’s always a factor of chance component. So much is dependent on the the weather. Of the four tiers that went this year, Tier 1 had the toughest trip. It rained on them when they least expected it. They missed the chance to see the lake as a result. However, as a wise colleague said, “There is beauty in failure. You can learn lessons from failures that you couldn’t learn otherwise.” I like that a lot.
What a wonderful opportunity. Stunning view. But let’s not do it again too soon eh?