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On the Last Mountain of Life: Pioneer Explorer of Taiwan Historic Trails—Nan-jun Yang
Mr. Nan-jun Yang, who was considered the pioneer researcher of Taiwan’s historic trails, passed away of cancer in the early morning of August 27 at age 86 .......

Mr. Nan-jun Yang, who was considered the pioneer researcher of Taiwan’s historic trails, passed away of cancer in the early morning of August 27 at age 86. As usual, Yang went on his forest patrol mission on one fresh early morning in his favorite hiking suit and chic scarf. It was the last mountain he ever visited in his life.

Nan-jun Yang, pioneer explorer of Taiwan historical trails.
Nan-jun Yang, pioneer explorer of Taiwan historical trails.

Mountain Explorer

Inaddition to a writer, Yang was a scholar and mountaineer famous for startingthe historic mountain trail studies in Taiwan. He led people to re-discover thebeauty of Taiwan’s forest ecology, history, and culture from a brand new angle.

Out of his passion and sense of mission for exploring Taiwan’s mountains, forests, historic trails, and history, Yang wrote many books about them, such as Footprints on Taiwan A Hundred Years Past, Ziin-Shui Camp Historic Trail: A Path for Five Centuries (co-published with his wife Ru-lin Hsu), A Story of the Hehuan Historic Trail (published this June), and others. In addition, he did careful and detailed research in his investigations and studies on historic trails in Taiwan and presented them in a fluent writing style. Therefore, his investigation reports on “Hehuanshan Historic Trail” and “Batongguan Historic Trial” have earned him critical acclaim.

Exploring the Beauty of Historical Trails

To Yang, these trails are not only historic but also reflect Taiwan’s ethnic and cultural diversity. Each mottling or buried by grass historic trail is the best miniaturization of Taiwan’s history.

According to Yang, combining mountaineering and historic trail exploration was pure personal interest. The Hehuan Historical Trail Investigation Project from Taroko National Park was the start of his systematic investigation of historic trails in national parks. His investigation on the Batongguan Historical Trail in Yushan National Park even caught public attention. From then on, Yang hiked innumerous historic trails to portray lively and live stories for Taiwan’s nature, ecology, history, and culture in the past.

Yang was measuring the wooden postholes with a beautiful look made in the Qing dynasty in Shuiwei, Chichi.
Yang was measuring the wooden postholes with a beautiful look made in the Qing dynasty in Shuiwei, Chichi.

A star has fallen, his spirit lives forever

In his last manuscript, Yang said, “...over the past 50 years of mountaineering, I have changed from total graphical discovery to exploring the towering mountains, deep valleys, and long history of Taiwan since a long time ago. The longer I get involved, the more I need to explore. The beauty of Taiwan’s mountains and river valleys has been neglected for too long. Mountaineers should investigate more and deeper the beauty of Taiwan’s culture and realize the need and urgency to recommend it.” His passion and care for Taiwan’s mountains and forests are seen between lines.

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