January 18 Yangmingshan Hike and Tea Flower Show

Harmony came to visit us for the weekend, and so we decided to go hiking in Yangmingshan National Park on Saturday. The weather was clear, but a bit cold. Our plan was to go on a hike in the morning, and then go see the Tea Flowers (Camellias) in the afternoon.

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A multi-color tea flower in bloom

Yangmingshan is a large park, with many hiking trails. It will likely take us awhile to hike up all of them! We chose to take one of the easier hikes on this trip; a loop trail from Erzihping Recreation Area that goes up Mt. Siangtian (949 meters or 2,847 feet) and Mt. Miantian (977 meters or 2,931 feet.)

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Harmony and Jeff standing on a bridge through a marsh grassland in Erzihping recreation center

The trail to Erzihping recreation area includes a handicap trail, which is also easy for families to walk with strollers so this is a very popular trail in the park. The Erzihping recreation area has trail explanations, an ecological pond, gazebos with picnic benches and chairs, and bathrooms, so many families picnic here. But we did not linger here, as we wanted to do the longer loop hike.
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Harmony looking at a pond along the trail to Erzihping

Erzihping trail offers many opportunities to see wildlife, like butterflies in the spring or this Taiwan Bluejay.

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Taiwan Bluejay in a tree along Erhizping trail

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Harmony hugs a tree!

Because the Erzihping trail winds through a valley, there are many different types of trees along it, and sections of tall bamboos.

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Harmony is standing under a bamboo forest

At the farthest end of the loop trail was Siangtian Pond. This pond is in the center of an ancient volcano caldera that collapsed many years ago.

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A photo of Siangtian Pond

The pond does not hold water for very long, as there is porous vocanic rock under the surface of the soil, and the water quickly seeps through it. In less than a week after a heavy rainfall, most of the water will be gone.

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The only puddle of water remaining in the pond!

I could hear some frogs croaking, so apparently there was still enough water and mud for them!

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Jeff and Harmony standing next to a rock with the Buddha symbol on it next to Siangtian Pond

To climb up the mountains, the loop trail left the valley, and the trees gave way to grasslands.

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A photo from the top of Mt. Siangtian, looking from the trail towards the peak of Mt. Miantian

You can just barely see the radio wave reflectors at the top of Mt. Miantian in the above photo.

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Ann walking along the trail

The radio reflectors were quite big, once we got up to the top of Mt. Miantian!

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Harmony and Ann standing next to the radio reflectors at the top of Mt. Miantian in Yangmingshan National Park

After we were done hiking, we took the bus to see the Tea Flowers in bloom at the Formosan Experimental Farm in Yangmingshan.

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Harmony is standing next the the entrance of the Formosan Experimental Farm in Yangmingshan

The cherry trees were also starting to bloom in Yangmingshan.

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A cherry tree in bloom near the entrance of the Formosan Experimental Farm

Camellia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae. They are found in eastern and southern Asia, from the Himalayas east to Japan and Indonesia. There are 100–250 described species. This genus is famous throughout East Asia; camellias are known as cháhuā (茶花) in Chinese, “tea flower”, an apt designation, as tsubaki (椿) in Japanese, as dongbaek-kkot (동백꽃) in Korean and ashoa trà or hoa chè in Vietnamese.

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Red camellias

The leaves of C. sinensis are processed to make tea. The ornamental Camellia japonica, Camellia oleifera and Camellia sasanqua are cultivated for their flowers.

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Harmony posing next to a camellia bush in bloom

Camellias are evergreen bushes or small trees up to 20 meters (66 feet) tall. The farm had both types of camellias. I had only seen the bush type of camellias before, so I was amazed at how tall the camellia trees grow! The colors of the flowers vary from white through pink colors to red and multi-colored. They can also be grown as bonsai trees.

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A camellia flower bonsai tree at the farm

The various species of camellia plants are generally well-adapted to acidic soils and also require a large amount of water

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Pink camellia “tea flower” in bloom

There were also many other types of flowers blooming in beds around the Formosan Experimental farm, including one of my favorites, poinsettias! It was a great hike and a wonderful day trip to Yangmingshan National Park and the Formosan Experimental Farm!

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Flowers blooming in a bed at the farm

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Multi-color poinsettias in bloom at the experimental farm

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