The Hehuan Mountains
This is a documentary introducing Taiwan's high mountain ecology. It is filmed at the Hehuan Mountain area within the vicinity of Taroko National Park, between the altitudes of 1800 to 3600 meters. The Central Cross-Island Highway is the only highway in Taiwan that runs through alpine ecosystems. The highest point of the highway is at Wuling, at an altitude of 3,275 meters. Look northward, and you can see the Zhongyangjian Mountain and Nanhu Mountain. Cross over the Zhuoshui River, and you meet the rolling peaks of
Qilai Mountains. To the south, the Central Mountain Range comes into sight over the broad horizon. On a sunny day, the Yushan Peaks can be seen clearly in the backdrop. The Hehuan Mountain Peaks have an average altitude of 3,600 meters. Not only is this area perfect for enjoying nature, it is also the best place to explore the ecosystems of the high mountains. The film follows the trail of the highway, advancing from the misty forests to the alpine terrains. A cloud forest usually features a dense and high-reaching canopy. Mosses and epiphytes grow in abundance here, helping to retain huge amounts of rainfall and moisture. The layered habitat, with its high moisture content, gives rise to a higher diversity of flora and fauna species; the number of endemic species can be high as well. Rows of mountain peaks appear on your left as you travel from Dayuling to Xiaofengkou. These are the prominent Qilai Mountain Peaks, which include the Main and North Peaks, both more than 3000 meters tall. The trails here are the most treacherous part of the Central Mountain Range. The Hehuan Mountain area is home to the Liwu River, Dajia River and the Zhuoshui River. Geologists find excellent examples of river capture and headward erosion here, while mountain hikers consider this place the perfect area for challenging peaks. By mid December, the high mountain plants would have dispersed most of their seeds. The cool and clear autumn slowly recedes, as the temperature plunges daily. Once the strong cold front from the north arrives, snow may occur in the high
mountains. Of course the high mountain plants have evolved over time and have adapted to the harsh conditions of winter. Snow is not just inevitable; it is a gift of nature. Having a high degree of richness and diversity within a small area or a short distance is a special feature of Taiwan's natural environment. The Hehuan mountain area is the perfect showroom for allopatric speciation. Towering mountains, plunging valleys, the micro-topography and the climate all serve as barriers to genetic exchange, and promote speciation as well.