Did a lot of hiking in Ta-ken this weekend. Today I wandered out on Trail 4, according to the sign, the most difficult of the 10 Ta-ken trails. Sponge Bear led the way as we notched another trail on our belt.

The trail meanders along a ridge for 1.8 kms, rising to 859m above sea level. Along the way you can take in the famous Giant 5 Leaved Pine, a moderately-sized pine tree with a flat top, no doubt the victim of some ancient lightning strike. Jim and I had no idea why it was famous.

I woke up very early and realized I had left my camera at the neighbor’s the previous day, so I borrowed my old Fuji, now a fossil at 5 years of age, from my daughter. The autofocus has problems, but it still turns out solid pictures. We started up trail for just beyond this bridge.

The sign reminds us that monkeys are present. However, on crowded weekends they generally retreat far from the trail. Sorry about the autofocus there, the camera is on its last legs.

The ascent to the ridge is extremely rapid, but the views are excellent.

The trail is logged this way its entire length. It looks nice and is probably easy to maintain, but it’s a bitch to walk on. The roundness means your foot is always threatening to slip between, turning an ankle or popping a kneecap, something my partner Jim did on a previous trip.

Here we look over the trail tracking the ridge behind us.

Bring gloves: after a couple of hours of grabbing the rope, my hands were red and swollen.

There were stirring views to the northeast over the river valleys on the other side of the ridges.

The old man posed for this shot; I especially loved his footgear. And I want to add, for the record, that any stories you hear of women two decades older than me blowing by me on the trail at twice my speed are baseless rumors and should be dismissed.

Conclusion: save Trail 4 for a day right after rain or a typhoon, because the views are the best of any of the Ta-ken trails. It’s serious work; not only do you have to climb and descend vertically on those idiotic logs, but it has the least shade of any of the Ta-ken trails.