Danda stream 丹大溪 Hot springs survey
Danda stream 丹大溪 Hot springs survey
Three-day hike up the Danda stream 丹大溪 bed in Xinyi district 信義鄉 of Nantou county 南投縣, the island's only land-locked county. We take advantage of the long 2-28 memorial holiday weekend to survey Jianianduan hot springs 加年端, along a several hundred meter long section of the river while water levels are at their lowest, possibly allowing passage through the narrow slot canyons draining the western slopes of Taiwan's central mountains.
First camp near Heliuping 合流坪
We decide to drive down from Taipei on the eve of the holiday to avoid traffic and get an earlier start on our first day. We stay at a pleasant commercial camp site, 達瑪巒風味餐廳. The proprietor, Mr. Lin is knowledgeable and talkative about the trails and river status. We are the only campers at his site, but he expects many more as the holiday weekend unrolls. We are concerned about being stopped on our hike since our permit application was refused. Mr. Lin tells us that there is no control for hikers, but people entering in jeeps can be heavily fined by the Forestry Bureau. He also confirms that only residents are permitted in on the Danda road 丹大林道, but that it is not uncommon for groups to "hire" a local to guide them in on the road toward Qicai lake 七彩湖 at the top. He explains that Danda road 丹大林道 is primarily maintained to service the key cross island power lines from Taichung 台中 to Hualien 花蓮. He points to a waterfall coming down in the opposite valley across the river and explains that that is their water source and that aborigines must climb up there to maintain the piping.
Tamazuan (Bunun) 地利 Dili village
Dili 地利, or 達瑪巒 or Tamazuan (meaning stone mortar or rooster in Bunun) is a Bunun community of about a thousand people. The residents of the village mostly originally lived in Bakurasu 巴庫拉斯 upstream of Heliuping 合流坪 on the Zhuoshui River 濁水溪. In 1903 the Japanese colonial government imposed a Resettlement Policy 集團移住 to bring the troublesome aborigines out of the remote mountain areas. The majority of the Dan settlement was relocated to Mayuan Village 馬遠村 in Wanrong Township 萬榮鄉 of Hualien 花蓮 county. The proprietor of the breakfast shop explains that the children get only a few hours per week of instruction in their native Bunun language. After breakfast, we drive to the end of Highway 16 台16線 at Heliuping 合流坪 where we will start our hike.
Day 1: Heliuping 合流坪 to Sanfensuo 三分所
Sun Hai Bridge 孫海喬
The lumber magnate Sun Hai 孫海 built a wooden bridge over the Zhuoshui River 濁水溪, Sun Hai Bridge 孫海喬 in 1957 to facilitate extraction of lumber from the central mountains along the then Sunhai Road 孫海林道. At the height of operations Sun Hai employed over 3,000 people and built the 80 km road from Shuili 水里 to Heliuping 合流坪 (known as Road 16 台16線 today) to connect with what is known today as Danda Forest Road 丹大林道. In 1969 Nantou County Government 南投縣政府 converted the bridge into a cement bridge. Connecting to Danda Forest Road 丹大林道 this was the only route to Rainbow Lake 七彩湖. In July of 2004, typhoon Mindulle 敏督利颱風 washed away the bridge. The Executive Yuan decided not to rebuild Sun Hai Bridge. The Executive Yuan instead decided to build a suspension bridge only able to allow passage of motorcycles, to allow the Bunun people to travel to their home land, to allow travelers access to the high mountain environment and to allow Taiwan Power path to maintain the cross-island high voltage power lines. At that time the Forestry department also established the station at Sanfensuo 三分所 to control access to the area. In 2008, typhoon Sinlaku 辛樂克颱風 destroyed the suspension bridge and it was replaced with a cable car.
We start walking at 9:45 AM and walk 13 km upstream in 7 hours. We originally planned to each carry two sets of shoes and change between river shoes and hiking shoes as we needed to make river crossings on the first day. But as soon as we get down to the river we realize we must change shoes to cross. On the spot we all decide to hike in river shoes and Philip takes all the hiking shoes back to the truck.
Danda stream 丹大溪
The Danda river 丹大溪 is one of the 12 major tributaries of the Zhuoshui River 濁水溪, Taiwan’s longest river at 186 km. The headwaters of the Zhuoshui River 濁水溪 are at Hehuan mountain 合歡山 at an elevation of 3,220m. The watershed basin of the Zhuoshui River 濁水溪 has an area of 3,156.9 square kilometers. Annual average rainfall in the Zhuoshui River watershed 濁水溪流域 is 2,200 mm, which decreases moving from the mountains downstream toward the west coast. 70% to 85% of the rain falls during the rainy season from May to October, and the flow of the Zhuoshui river gradually decreases from October into the dry season in winter. The Danda river 丹大溪 quickly splits into the Danda river 丹大溪 and the Junda river 郡大溪 which each have significant tributaries all with headwaters over 3,000m.
Junda Stream 郡大溪 confluence
After four hours of walking in the Danda stream 丹大溪 and a few crossings, we break for lunch at the Junda Stream 郡大溪 confluence. There are remains of cement anchors and cables from a suspension bridge here. While we eat we are passed by a group of about 20 young aborigine men who continue down Junda Stream 郡大溪 where they explain the will visit their ancestral village site. Though we were not issued permits because it is a protected area, there is still a clear track made by jeeps in the river bed here continuing up the main Danda stream 丹大溪 stream fork which we continue to follow.
The canyon narrows
First slot canyon
As we enter the first slot canyon, we discover a group has camped on a bluff right before the slot. It seems that some of them are not prepared to go through the canyon. We don't want to camp with them so we decide to try to push on through the slot section. One of their group, Willie comes down to help us find the way through the slot. We push through, climb out of the slot and find a good open area to camp.
Sanfensuo 三分所 camp
Day 2: Sanfensuo 三分所 to Junda Stream 郡大溪
Sanfensuo 三分所 camp
We leave our camp set up and push upstream with light day packs to see how much of Jianianduan hot springs 加年端 we can discover.
Danda stream 丹大溪
Second slot canyon
Rainfall and river levels
Annual average rainfall in the Zhuoshui River watershed 濁水溪流域 is 2,200 mm, which decreases moving from the mountains downstream toward the coast. 70% to 85% of the rain falls during the rainy season from May to October, and the flow of the Zhuoshui river gradually decreases from October into the dry season in winter. Our plan carefully tracked precipitation, run-off, river heights and weather forescasts as we finalized the dates of our trip.
Canyon of slate cliffs
At midday after having seen some minor outcrops but having not yet reached Jianianduan hot springs 加年端 we come to a pinch point in the slot canyon that we do not feel comfortable crossing as a group. We decide to turn back, go back to our base camp and move our camp downstream which will give us the opportunity to explore other sites in the area the next afternoon. As we explore how to pass the slot, we meet a middle aged couple coming down who tell us that one of the members of a group of young river tracers has injured his foot as he jumped down into a shallow pool after climbing the final waterfall before Jianianduan 加年端 not far above us and he will require rescue. We trace downstream through the slot together with the couple. We meet them two days later serendipitously at a convenience store near Puli 埔里 where they tell us that they had seen us coming off the highway in Taichung on our way down from Taipei. They share some of their other adventure stories and love for Taiwan's nature with us.
Return to base camp
A survey conducted by the Forestry bureau using trap cameras along Danda road 丹大林道 at Sanfan station 三分所 and Lieufan station 六分所 station from Nov. 2012 to Oct. 2013 recorded 2870 photos of game in 41412 hours, including 5 herbivores - sambar deer, muntjac, serow, macaque, and boar; and 4 carnivores - marten, civet, weasel, and ferret badger. Occurrence was high for sambar deer and muntjac, but low for other game. The survey was used to put forward preservation policy for the area.
A 2004 survey along Danda road 丹大林道 conducted by Taiwan Normal University 台灣師範大學生物系 recorded 38 species of mammals, including 12 protected species:
- Formosan black bear 臺灣黑熊 (tái wān hēi xióng) Ursus thibetanus formosanus
- Formosan clouded leopard 臺灣雲豹 (tái wān yún bào) Neofelis nebulosa brachyura, Formosan rock macaque 臺灣獼猴 (tái wān mí hóu) Macaca cyclopis
- Taiwan serow 臺灣野山羊 (tái wān yě shān yáng) Capricornis swinhoei
- Formosan Flying Fox 臺灣狐蝠 (tái wān hú fú) Pteropus dasymallus formosus
- Formosan Sambar Deer 臺灣水鹿 (tái wān shuǐ lù) Rusa unicolor swinhoei
- Yellow-throated marten 黃喉貂 (huáng hóu diāo) Martes flavigula
- Chinese pangolin 穿山甲 (chuān shān jiǎ) Manis pentadactyla
- Crab-eating mongoose 棕簑貓 (zōng suō māo) Herpestes urva
- Leopard cat 石虎 (shí hǔ) Prionailurus bengalensis
- Asian palm civet 麝香貓 (shèxiāng māo) Paradoxurus hermaphroditus
- Reeves's muntjac (Barking deer) 山羌 (shān qiāng) Muntiacus reevesi
- Masked palm civet 白鼻心 (báibí xīn) Paguma larvata
- 112 species of birds, 12 amphibians, 28 reptiles and 11 species of fish
Day 3: Junda stream 郡大溪 to Heliuping 合流坪
Junda stream 郡大溪 campsite
Looking for the trail which passed over the suspension bridge
Side stream waterfall explore
Continuing back downstream
back to Heliuping 合流坪
Back to our vehicle in the mid-afternoon, we drive back down Road 14 to Dili 地利 for lunch then drive on to Shuanglong 雙龍 village for a quick explore.
Shuanglong is an indigenous Bunun 布農 community nestled in the mountains of Xinyi Township 信義鄉 of Nantou County 南投縣 in central Taiwan along the raging Zhuoshui River. Its residents officially number more than 800, but only about 400 live here permanently. As in most indigenous communities of Taiwan, the young people have moved to urban areas in search of study and work opportunities. Bunun villages in different mountain areas were forced to move down to Shuanglong 雙龍, an area of much lower elevation during Japanese rule to allow better control over their movements and to prevent rebellions.
The Bunun 布農
The Danda area was a traditional area of the Bunun people 布農. Two percent of Taiwan’s humans today are non-Han Pacific islanders who lived on the island before Chinese immigrants started arriving over 500 years ago. The Bunun are widely dispersed across the central mountains. In 2000, the Bunun numbered 41,038, approximately 8% of Taiwan's total indigenous population, making them the fourth-largest indigenous group.
Shuiyuan suspension bridge 水源吊橋
Locations: Dongpu, 東埔
, Puli, 埔里
Dates: 2019:02:27 - 2019:03:02