Showing posts with label Hong Kong Trail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hong Kong Trail. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Hiking: Dragon's Back (Family Edition)

I've hiked Dragon's Back, aka Hong Kong Trail stage 8, a few times and it never gets old. This time was my favorite though because it was a family affair. It's been so fun having middleC and littleC in Hong Kong hiking with us. I think I'm going to feel a bit lost when they leave.

Super windy on the top!

Since they have been enjoying the hiking (see previous hikes here and here), we wanted to make sure that they did the most popular hike in Hong Kong. This was my first time acting as hike leader on a big hike. All the other times I tagged along and followed the group. With the kids in town, my knowledge of Hong Kong has really been put to the test and I'm happy to say that I'm doing pretty good so far.

To give you an idea, here's what it took to get to the start of the trail:

We took the ferry from Discovery Bay ( on Lantau Island where we live) to Central (on Hong Kong Island) ---> took the MTR to Shau Kei Wan ---> caught bus #9 toward Shek O to the To Tei Wan stop.

Once we hit the trail head, all we had to do was follow the signs. This meant I had a break from leading until lunch at the end.

This hike was the perfect choice to increase both length and difficulty for our visiting hikers. It has the great views of the trails rated difficult, but with a much more moderate climb. A lot of the hike was on dirt trail which was kind on the legs and feet.

Reaching the 284 meter peak was semi-quick. We did climb a section of pretty steep steps, but with a few breaks they were quite manageable.

And after every section of climbing, we were greeted with amazing views over the Shek O Bay area. These were great spots to take a rest ---> and lots of people had the same idea. The trail was very crowded the day we hiked.

After reaching Shek O Peak, the undulating ridge top that is the trail's namesake begins. Steps have been built in to make the descents as easy as possible.

It felt really good to make it to the end of the trail. This hike was about 8km long and took us just over 2.25 hours to get to Big Wave Bay. The Hong Kong Enjoy Hiking website, rates Dragon's Back as very difficult, but we think that is a bit harsh. Using their own grading reference system, we think it should be labeled moderate. It's definitely a great choice for people who are ready to take on a little more challenging hike.

We checked out the beach at Big Wave Bay and used the convenient facilities there before hopping on the bus to Shek O for lunch.

What activity does your family like to do together?

I'm linking up with Deb for the Wednesday Word - CHOICE!


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Hong Kong Trail - Sections 5-7

Having already completed Hong Kong Trail Section 8 (Dragon's Back) twice and recently completed Sections 1-4, it just made sense to join a couple of the SWIC ladies who were doing Sections 5-7 so I could say I finished all 50km of the Hong Kong Trail.

*warning ---> lots of pictures in this post!

I met the girls at the Jardine House Starbuck's in Central. I don't normally get coffee from here, but I was early and thought it would guarantee me a pass to use their toilets. It went really well with my gluten free raspberry protein bar, too (recipe). This is a great meeting spot since the bus terminus at Exchange Square is right across the street.

Section 5 trail head on Wong Nad Chung Gap Road is easy to find, but that's the only thing that is easy about this part. There are two peaks to conquer along the way which means a ton of climbing.

This section should just be named the STAIRMASTER! I'm pretty sure all 4km are steps going either up or down (maybe a slight exaggeration, but not much) which is why this part is tagged as hard.

The reward for all that climbing of course is the spectacular views. At 433m, Jardine's Lookout offers great views of the concrete jungle in Central and Kowloon left behind for the day.

After a short break taking in the views and taking pictures, we headed down, down, down.

After a lot of steep steps down and then up again, we reached the second peak at Mount Butler (436m). There's something about a You are here sign that helps you quickly forget the demanding climb you just did.

My new hiking shoes were awesome all day, but I still needed to rest my feet overlooking views of Tai Tam Reservoir. Had. To. This would be a great place for a quick snack or even lunch.

North Face Litewave Explorer 

After a brief easy ridge walk, we were on our way down again. I've read that there are 599 dizzying steps to close out this section of the trail near the quarry. I believe it.

Section 6 starts at Quarry Gap which feels like a rest stop with it's large open space, toilets, shelters, and barbecue area. After a very hilly start to our hike, we took our time and enjoyed a snack break here.

This 4.5km section of the Hong Kong Trail is popular and relatively easy since most of the walking is downhill toward the reservoir and paved. We saw the most people on this section. There are also several big picnic areas before reaching the reservoir which make a perfect spot for lunch if you prefer a quieter spot than Quarry Gap which we did.

The trail goes across the different reservoir sections (I think there are four) and although there are signs posted asking to not feed the fish, people were indeed feeding the fish. They look well fed!!

The last part of this section is dirt trail and nicely shaded. This worked perfectly for our hike as the sun peeped out from the clouds around this time.

Section 7 was the longest section of our hike this day at 7.5km and again mostly concrete. Like all the other sections, the start is marked by a large map (Hint: this information plays a crucial role in events later).

This section of the trail is not very exciting. Most of it runs beside the water catchment. It is level though, so the walking goes pretty quickly. Nearing the end we got some great views of Tai Tam Harbour and the surrounding villages.

We knew that this part would be mainly flat with the exception of a large section of steps (700 according to the Hong Kong hiking website). Although we didn't see a trail sign, we took a set of 700 steps up to what we thought would be Shek O Road. Turns out we were 2km EARLY. There was no section 8 trail sign waiting for us at the top.

Even though I missed 2km of section 7 (I was too tired to go back down to walk 2km and climb another set of 700 steps), I'm still calling myself a Hong Kong Trail 50km finisher! (sidenote: we took some bad advice from a couple of hikers near these steps ---> always refer to your own maps and trail descriptions!)

We were still able to catch the bus to the metro station and head back to Central. Although it was a weekday, the bus was so crowded we had to stand. After walking most of 16km on concrete, my feet were tired and all I could think about was sitting down.

Other hiking posts:

Tell me...
What is your favorite coffee spot?
Do you wear hiking shoes or regular shoes on hikes?
Would you have gone back to do the 2km (plus 1400 steps)?

Friday, December 23, 2016

Hong Kong Trail: Sections 1-4

Those SWIC hikers can get me to do anything...including hiking 25k in one day! I met up with my Shenzhen friends to hike sections 1-4 of the Hong Kong Trail. I did section 8, known as Dragon's Back, with them in January and again with the AWA hiking group last month. I guess it was time to branch out.

Section 1 begins at The Peak, which is a great starting point since there's a Starbuck's for the coffee lovers and toilets. Some hikers might even start late enough to enjoy the shops in the mall. We took a bus from Central, but there are many options to get up to The Peak. The Peak Tram is probably the most popular, but also more expensive.

The Peak is the highest point on Hong Kong Island so the hike starts with the best views of Central and Kowloon. I bet the first 3km offers varying views like this.

Although this section is categorized as easy, it is still 7km long. We were prepared with plenty of water for hiking all four sections, but we used a mini filtration system to refill our bottles when we could along the trail.

Section 2 is a fairly easy 4.5km walk through the woods. This section is popular for quick hikes because you get a lot of nature in a short time and it's easy to start/finish at either end.

The trail heads toward Aberdeen and along the way you get some great views. If you opt out after section 2, the hike can end by continuing down into Aberdeen and past the large cemetery ---> center of photo below.

This section is mostly concrete walking paths and steps, but it's all very manageable. Although most of this section is shaded by foliage, walking along the catch water is open to the sun.

The last part of the trail is a flight of steep steps, but off to the right is a shelter perfect for a quick rest or even lunch. There's also a great viewing area of some of the outlying islands like Lamma, Peng Chau and Lantau. I could even see Discovery Bay!

Section 3 takes about 2 hours to cover the 6.5km because like section 2 it's mostly an easy walk through the woods. We passed by lots of small waterfalls, but much fewer people.

Best hiking material = linen. My tank was so comfortable all day!

Dirt trails mean a lot of happy hiking, but there are also a lot of rocks and roots in the path. So while feeling closer to nature, my neck hurts from looking down so long and occasionally I trip  or stub a toe. Like I said, happy hiking!

We stopped for lunch along this section and one of the girls shared these amazing gluten-free pumpkin muffins (she modified this recipe). I can't wait to make some of my own.

Section 4 is another 7.5km of comfortable hiking trails with a brief climb near the end. This part of the trail was probably 50/50 paved/unpaved and took about 2 hours to complete.

There's nothing better on a hike than enjoying some unexpected scenery. We were thrilled to come across the occasional poinsettia, especially since it is nearly Christmas.

We knew the end was near when we started getting glimpses of Ocean Park, a marine-life theme park with animals and rides divided into zones. The main attraction is the pandas.

The end! We made it! From here we hopped on a bus back to Central. My friends went back to Shenzhen and I caught the ferry to Discovery Bay.

I'll mention here that I did this hike right after returning from Phuket and catching a cold (probably on the plane). I was feeling, meh at the beginning, but by the time the final photo was taken I was feeling pretty miserable. Somehow I still finished my longest hike so far!

Coming up: Hong Kong Trail: Sections 5-7!!