“What time shall we start?” If it takes an hour to reach a peak, start two hours before sunrise. If it takes five, plan for six. All you might need is a headlamp.
If you asked me what's the best time for a hike I'd say dawn. My most precious time on a mountain is the hour leading up to sunrise when the sky turns from black to blue, and I can witness the magic of another day coming to life.
I find the first hour after sunrise equally rewarding. After freezing in the dark, the early morning sun starts to warm me. It still sits low in the sky and colours everything in bright orange and red tones. Photographers call this the golden hour. I call it my favourite part of the day.
I love the sensations of a new day and the sense of opportunity that's in the air. Someone else might snooze their alarm. Even if I don't achieve anything else, my day has already been a success; and funny enough, waking up early for a hike almost always boosts my productivity for the rest of the day.
In Taipei, one of the best spots for sunrise is the city's highest peak Qixingshan. There's no public transportation to any trailheads early enough in the day, so a scooter is the vehicle of choice. From Lengshuikeng it takes 30-45 minutes to the top. We descend down the other side to Xiaoyoukeng and take a bus back. After a spontaneous detour to 夢幻湖 Menghuan Pond (getting out of the bus a few stops early) it's time for breakfast and coffee near Shilin.