Showing posts with label trails. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trails. Show all posts

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!!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Hiking: Tiger's Head - Lo Fu Tau

A couple of days after the Mui Wo hike, my new friends showed me another popular trail in Discovery Bay, Tiger's Head.

This was the hardest hike I've done, besides climbing a volcano in the dark in Bali.

The hike can start two ways: 1) climb to Lookout Point and then continue to the Tiger's Head trail head or 2) walk up Discovery Valley Road to the trail head. We choose option #2.

The start of the trail was pretty painless and even offered great views of the final destination off in the distance.

Pretty soon the friendly incline and well defined dirt trail became a bit more tricky. More rocks were scattered on the trail and it started to feel like a climb and less like a walk.

At some points the trail was also a bit overgrown (we would later run into workers trimming back the trail). It didn't interfere too much with the ability to hike, but I kept thinking about what animals might be hiding in the brush!

The last push to reach Tiger's Head Peak was the hardest. The trail was very steep, significantly uneven, and may have caused me to wonder once or twice what I had gotten myself into. However, about five minutes after reaching the top, I forgot all about the climb. The views of Discovery Bay and the rest of Lantau Island were just stunning.

I was admiring the view of Tiger's Head on my way to the summit
when this little woman came down carrying her groceries!

An additional little climb got us to the summit (with more great views!) and connected us to the rest of Lo Fu Tau (Tiger's Head in Cantonese) Country Trail.

Most comfortable hiking shorts ever! (see here)

From the summit we got a view of the ridge trail that would be our way back down to civilization. From here the trail looked nice and easy ---> read on to see what it was really like!

Lo Fu Tau Country Trail skirts the edge of Lantau North Country Park which conveniently places distance markers and maps at the trail heads. From Tiger's Head we could follow the trail all the way to A Po Long (the starting point) and then take the Olympic Trail either to Tung Chung or Mui Wo.

Looking toward A Po Long

We decided to loop back down to DB using the ridge trail. This is considered an unmaintained trail (although someone obviously does care for it) so hikers are on their own meaning there are no markers or maps along the way ---> at least none that we saw or that I could find online.

Most of the trail was a rocky dirt path with steep descents at times. It was not as fast going down as the view earlier suggested it would be.

We saw some interesting rock formations along the way down. Some were large enough to climb up on for those important I didn't do it unless I have a photo moments.

Eventually we took a path on the right. Before heading down I looked back at how far we had come from Tiger's Head and the summit of Lo Fu Tau. I was feeling pretty good about that effort.

The last part of the trail was overgrown and so steep I had to get down on my butt at times. I started to reconsider how good I was feeling just moments before up on the ridge. But thankfully the path leading us down into "The Greens" village of Discovery Bay wasn't too long and then it was high fives all around. 

This is a good trail for hiker's ready to transition to something more challenging. The trail distance was just about 3.5 miles and took us about 2 hours. The elevation gain is around 1400 feet. The hard parts are relatively short, but if you have bad knees you might want to bring a hiking stick.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Hiking: Mui Wo to Discovery Bay

Mui Wo is one of three popular expat communities on Lantau Island (Discovery Bay and Tung Chung are the other two). One hiking trail recommendation is Mui Wo to Discovery Bay. This hike can be done point to point or the more adventurous might like to try it out and back.

My friends and I made plans to have lunch in Mui Wo and then hike back to DB. We took the ferry from Kai To Pier to Mui Wo hoping to have lunch at a Mexican spot but unfortunately it had closed. Instead we ordered from China Bear, a popular seaside pub with a good assortment on the menu.

After lunch we walked past the dining arcade toward Silver Mine Bay Beach heading for the trailhead on the other side. Mui Wo was once referred to as Silver Mine Bay. There used to be six or so villages in this area and many of the villagers worked in the silver mine.

 The hike starts with a serious ascent out of Mui Wo. There are a lot of stairs. While discussing the number, a man coming down exclaimed that there were "1000!"

That kind of climbing gets to good viewing points quickly. It didn't take long to see all of Silver Mine Bay Beach and Mui Wo.

The tough climbing mostly comes to an end when we arrive at the Pavillion. Besides a nice place to sit and rest, there are panoramic views all the way to Central and Kowloon on a clear day.

With the overcast skies we were only able to see Peng Chau island.

On the descent to Discovery Bay we follow the path by the Trapist Haven Monastery, a Catholic monastery built in 1950. There is a pavilion dedicated to St. Mary in the garden next to the monastery.

No one seems to know how this jeep ended up in Nim Shu Wan village. I should point out that this part of the island is free of personal cars. After a little digging, I found out that in the 1950's a forestry project was started by the Lantao Development Council and employed men from the village. One part of the project was building a jeep track to the upper levels of the forestry lot. Hmmm.

The downhill path continues right through Nim Shu Wan village, a former fishing village that now seems to cultivate farm vegetable crops.

And right around the corner, we were back to the Kai To Pier where we began.

Overall, this hike was fairly easy - if you take the stairs at an easy pace and it's not the hottest days of summer. It was a little more than 3 miles and it took our group about 90 minutes. I have heard that it is easier hiking DB to Mui Wo, but I felt pretty good walking off my lunch. Plus, we all just continued our walks home since we live in DB.

Other hikes I've written about: