Shimen to Kenting solo walk

Posting here cause cyclists are most likely to be able to answer my questions. In the spirit of @BigJohn, In 2018, either May or November, I plan on walking from Taipei to Kenting. Please help me fill in the gaps in my logic and shortsightedness :slight_smile:. So far, the plan is to pack a change of clothes, rain poncho and shoes, first aid kit, powdered nutrition, copious water, and my jungle hammock. I’m thinking the West coast for safety and varied routes. I plan to sleep at homestays, inns, and in my hammock when the former cannot be found. My goal is 20km/day. So here are my questions:
-if the trek is 450km, how much can I expect to add to the trip for detours in order to stay off highways?
-What is the longest distance between potable water? Is a filter necessary?
-With the combination of humidity, heat and pack weight, how does one determine how severely their endurance will be affected? After a week after two?
-What is the most efficient way to meet the high caloric needs when not near a town?
-If my second pair of shoes were amphibious, which make/model could stand up to this abuse?
-In '99 I was young, cute, and foreign. None of these things are on my side today. Are homestays still a thing? Little old ladies used to pick me up off the street and take me home and feed me and instruct me to speak English to their grandkids. Does anyone still have experiences like this? Inns are fine, but I did enjoy the adventure and intimacy of staying with random families.
So what am I not considering?


I didn’t sleep at all yet, so excuse anything that doesn’t make sense. If it doesn’t make sense, it’s probably just a mental lapse. At any rate, I’ve never made this trek and I’m purely responding from a survivalist expert’s perspective.

  1. Lots. Always expect to at least double your distance. I’ve gone through some areas where the maps showed signs that a water crossing would be possible, and found out the hard way that wasn’t true. Then had to reroute through thick jungle areas. Always be prepared to at least double your distance.

  2. Can’t tell you, I’m not sure about this exact trek. But carrying filtration systems is a good habit, there’s so many different forms. I’d suggest buying a filtration straw where you could drink directly from any water source. Make sure the filter is reliable first. I’ve used the filtration tablets before too, those are fine but taste like ass and take a long time. Alternatively you could always build your own natural water filter if the situation arose.

  3. You should be accustomed to it by now, it takes about a month to acclimatize. I’m pretty sure you’ve been here longer than a month. If you’re feeling overheated, take a rest, drink water, change your socks, and get back to it. Most importantly, make sure you’re getting proper daily nutrition. Exhaustion sometimes saps an appetite. Make sure to eat and drink, you’ll be fine.

  4. Sugar! Yes, sugar. It’s essential when you’re cold, it’s great for energy, I always had a few sugary treats stowed away during events like this. Especially after a cold rainy night. Otherwise, just fruits, dried foods, and whatever else lasts long. Food runs out quicker than you’d think. Actually food and water were always my biggest weights.

  5. I’ve never been a fan of two boots/shoes, they’re bulky. The reason for using two pairs is normally because one is drenched or ruined, you can air them out while wearing the other set. More importantly than shoes are socks. Change out your socks every day, sometimes twice if necessary. I’ve had the second stage of trench foot from wearing the same socks in the jungle throughout just one day. Of course, it was a long event though. At any rate, comparing both desert and jungle boots I’ve noted that both get swamped. Try getting some with air holes on the sides to let out water and get in some ventilation.

  6. No idea.

  7. Additional notes. Where do you plan to sleep if the night is coming and there’s no town in sight. Meaning, make sure you’re protected from rain and poisonous/venomous critters when bedding down. Water proof everything, especially clothes you want to keep dry. Try keeping weight to a bare minimum. And most importantly, everyone poops, make sure you’re equipped for that occasion.

Can’t think of anything else, good luck. Hope this helps.

I have often wished that Taiwan had something like the Appalachian Trail (eastern USA) or the various Himalayan trekking routes. Richard Saunders has a whole series of books covering various local mountain hikes, but I’m not sure what you’re describing is even possible, without following the highways (as the bicyclists do). Do you have any idea as to your route?

I’m pretty familiar with the trails surrounding Taipei, and am aware of several between Yilan and hereabouts, but going due south? I’m not even sure there is a suitable trail to Wulai (although if you really wanted to avoid the highways, you could conceivably go Pingxi --> Yilan --> Wulai, crossing the mountains twice! weather permitting, of course).

And then you start hitting big national parks (where solo hikers have gotten lost for months, and in one case died), with high mountains and…I guess you’d have to veer around Taroko Gorge? Maybe other people would be familiar with this leg.

Have you considered getting sponsored for that with the aim of donating to a charity (I mean by individuals, but I think with the right approach also by companies)? If so, pm me as my friend and I might be working on an organization involving physical/sporting challenges like this one for charity. I will sponsor you, say NT$1 for each kilometer (I know, that’s pretty cheap).

My friend will be competing in a 250km in an ultra run (across Taiwan but I’m not sure of the route). He is looking into sponsorship.

We might partner with a church since they already have non-profit status. You might not like this so I want to let you know. We might partner with a company (looking into Garmin now). We don’t care. The goal is the charity.

My last jungle hammock was amazing and kept out the most torrential rain. Rats ate through it while I was sleeping. I hit the ground with a thud. I’m glad none made it inside with me. My new one has yet to be tested. I’ll probably stay off the coast so that trees remain an option. It’s always a risk though.
Depending on weather, I have some silicon sticky pads that fit on the soles of my feet that I can use in lieu of shoes should the jungle-rot set in (nakefit). Double the distance might just be a deal breaker. I’ve still got a lot of planning to do.
Pooping. gotta think more on that one too; I can’t just pop-a-squat roadside. Thanks for the tips

@Dawud. I’d rather stick to the highways than turn this into a year-long expedition. I’ve read of folks doing it along the coast. I haven’t found the answer yet to what routes are even a possibility. It’s a way off yet, but 450km is plenty far for me
@marasan. I hadn’t even thought about the possibility. Of course I am open to raising money. There have been so many natural disasters this year that there are many in need. So what happens if I do this, but then don’t finish? I’m no spring chicken and may be overestimating my abilities. Also, what is expected in return? blog?

You could set up the sponsorship on a per-kilometer basis- you make it 280km, your sponsors pay you whatever they sponsored you for for each kilometer.

Expected return? None. It will most likely be a charity to help the homeless. Free lunchboxes and a small bit of cash. That is about 200 NT.

Blog? We’re just getting started on this (the idea I mean and not the blog). I’ll keep you posted.

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Pooping could be easy if you’re regular - if you’re a just-after-lunch kind of guy, then plan accordingly.

Not clear on the plan - your OP says ‘to stay off highways’. But later, you’re using them. You mean you walk on highways, but leave them to camp ‘sideways’ off the road?

Has the makings of a great trip, could reinvent Taiwan for you.

And I often wondered why no-one has walked the Spine of Taiwan.

For your route look at provincial highway no. 3

This will get you most of the way down the island. its quite scenic in parts, and has broad shoulders you can walk on safely.

By choosing the west coast “highway” which is the 61, the toughest part is finding any kind of shelter or water. The area is quite baron at some points and if you want to turn east, it’s usually a pretty far distance and you could deviate pretty far off course and have to retrace your footsteps the next day. Lots of unwanted kms added on.

As cyclists, we normally see the 3 has the harder route because of the elevation gain. If you decide to take the 3 (the mountain route), you can get pretty drained because you’re doing a lot of climbing (and descending), however, you’re a shorter stretch away from the next small city or convenient store than you would be on the coast.

Here’s a thread (in Chinese) on a guy researching about walking from Taipei to Taichung, I hope it helps.

61 would be pretty boring to walk. Are the climbs on the 3 that tough? I only know it as far as Miaoli.

For clarity: are you talking about a long-distance mountain trail hike, or walking along the roads?

Isn’t there a north-south hiking trail that goes through the mountains? I remember seeing topographical maps that included that trail, but I’m not sure if it’s something that actually exists, or is just an aspirational non-developed government idea.

We used to have a lot more posts about hiking here, but they’ve dwindled with Mucha Man’s departure.

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Yes. After a certain point, you’re in the mountains with no town in sight. I’m not saying OP should stay true the the 3 the whole way, but the cycling route takes you on a route like this…

That looks fine. I’ll have a crack over the long weekend, let you know how I get on.

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I’ll leave that one for someone else.
I don’t want to walk directly on the highway for the bulk of the route. I’ve driven 1 and see side farm roads that would do for portions of the trip, but that would add in a lot of doubling back, and I’d still be on highway a lot of the time. It doesn’t sound fun to have cars buzzing past me. Would 3 be better or worse in this regard?

Im a city girl.

The 3 might be worse than the coastal “highway” in terms of volume of cars/motorcycles. Mostly because you’re closer to some towns and a lot of motorcycles/cars like to take it to avoid the jam on the express ways.

The coastal road is sometimes so far out of the way that not many people like to take it. The time they spend getting back into the city might equal the amount of time they spend in traffic.

@ranlee So as a cyclist, the three considerations being distance between towns (short being better), elevation climb, and traffic safety, weighing the pros and cons, what would be your choice between 1, 3, and 61?


The 1 is completely out of the question. The amount of traffic lights that we would have to stop at would drive anyone on 1-4 wheels crazy.

So, out of the 3 and 61, I would choose the 3.

Reasons why I don’t choose 61:

  • You’re in the middle of nowhere for long stretches meaning no convenient stores along the way

  • Relatively no shade! If you’re caught out in any kind of heat and want to cool down under a tree, their may be no tree in sight!

Reasons why I WOULD choose 61:

  • fastest route from A to B.

I can get caught out in the sun or run out of supplies, but at least I have assistance from my bike to get me to my destination quicker to refill and rest. I can (probably) cover 3-5x the distance on my bike compared to someone fatigued on foot.

Reasons why I don’t choose the 3

  • Elevation gain. It’s well known fact that you use more strength to go uphill than on a flat surface. However, I get rest when going down hill, someone on foot has to use as much strength going up as they do doing down.

  • High in car/motorcycle volume. There’s a scooter lane, which is heaven for a cyclist, but not much else to the right of that for someone to walk on.

Reasons why I WOULD choose the 3

  • Lots of safety nets. It’s high in traffic, so if you’re really really at your limit, there’s no shortage people driving by that can help you. Also much closer distance between towns.

  • I like climbing and descending. Gives me some change to scenary on a long haul trip.

I hope I covered everything~

@ranlee Thanks. From your link, it looks like 5km is the total elevation climb. I can manage that. Ive done that in two days.

Wait, 5km total over 500km? Or is that a typo?

I’ve ridden from Ding Pu in New Taipei City to Zhu Dong, Hsinchu, and have had multiple climbs that were 2-4kms long.

You can open up an account with Strava and map your everyday route. The elevation gain map that’s on my link is over too long of a distance for you to see all the little humps of elevation along the way.

I probably wouldn’t be so lucky