We didn’t know a whole lot about river-tracing, which, for whatever reason, didn’t much bother me. Not all shared my nonchalant attitude towards an itinerary and timeline.
The next morning we hit the road 5AM with the chase car, and drove into a bed of clouds looming in the lush mountain lulls. It was just like the Oriental art I’ve seen my entire life. Winding the diesel VW up and up, we stopped to marvel at the sun’s blinding shimmer on the Pacific. It wasn’t until the accosting horns of a passing truck that I realized the extended shoulders were for big trucks to make wide-turns, not for me to angle-park my van and stand on the roof for optimal photo-sessing, as I had so happily assumed. Long, dark, tunnels pierced through the mountains. In a coastal village we had a rest and breakfast. A fella with a betel nut stained grill snapped our photo with an Aboriginal Warrior of Yilan County. Milk tea and stuffed sticky bread.
We’d soon be chucked on the side of a Mountain. We were set to trek, boulder, and swim our way up Three Levels River, into the Golden Gorge. This is not often traversed. I challenge you to find much record of it. Lead by the descendants of aboriginals, we moved swiftly with our essentials up through the current, leaping from one boulder to the next. The rain came and provided some relief from the stifling August swelters.
After three hours of forging deeper into the tropical forests, we made camp along the river in a relatively flat bed of sand. We pitched tents and scoured the surroundings for firewood. It was mostly the Z crew who’d supply the fire’s fuel. Well, it was entirely the aboriginals, but as runner-ups.
Up the river, down the hatch. Those who started drinking hard early, passed out hard early, and all for the best. Survivor-like opinions and alliances formed. It was natural western behavior, and I was not exempt from it. We’re a strategic lot, we want to get what we want. Amazing how it’s all the same in the end. We bathed in the river, shat in woods. The aboriginals hosted a ritualistic thanking to the mountain Gods. Nature’s nuances, a rising moon, a flowing river, it was all very zen.
The fire took nearly two hours to get roasting, we were limited to the soaked wood of wilderness. Typhoon season just ended. But, to our guide’s credit, succeed on to BBQ’d pork, that had a tantalizingly melty taste, seducing my tongue in a dumb-happy stupor, like a drunkard in an empty street on his way home to his love. The meat tendered by the boar’s freedom to roam the mountains. We passed a bottle Johnny Walker Black about and anxiously awaited the sausage. At this point, I wasn’t hungry, so either the mind-bending deliciousness was a real, or a result of time/place. Probably both.
The night narrowed.