Saturday saw an adventure outside of the city to explore some of Hong Kong's great hiking trails. This is definitely one of the major plus points about Hong Kong, within 45mins you can enter a nature reserve and feel like the city is a million miles away. Ok, maybe not a million miles, but certainly far enough that you can observe it without feeling part of it for some time.
The plan was to hike Wilson's trail section one and two backwards from the Tai Kao MTR to end at Stanley beach for some R&R. Well the good news is we did make it to Stanley beach, but with a lot less time for R&R than originally expected. The hike was 12 km and took us 5 hours with a 30min pause in between to buy some water and snacks. Section 2 that we did first is marked Fairly Difficult and section 1 that we ended with (in the dark) is labeled Very Difficult. They got the ratings spot on.
Section 1, the last part, was tough. I'm no stranger to exercise, but I can say I'm glad I pushed myself on those squats during BodyPump recently. The number of stairs we climbed was more than I have ever encountered on my travels and my gym training paid off. Add to that rain and slippery mud slopes and trails that go up and down over many peaks covering over 1000 stairs. So yes it was an adventure, many fun memories and the views and surroundings made it totally worth the sweat and effort.
I found this write up that gives a good impression of what a hiker experiences along the way... the excitement, the relaxation, the exhaustion:
"The first peak was ok – especially as we could not see behind the first hill, so we did not know what was coming next ... many places along the way to the summit, the views of HK from atop the peak are simply breathtaking. It is like looking at a Hong Kong we’d never seen before. Lush greenery stretches out for miles together, only to be broken by splashes of pink, red and white. Blue waters beckon with lazy abandon near the reservoir.We walked down the steps of the first hill – knowing that we had to climb them all up again, and many more! The climb started off and after a few minutes, it hit us. The gradient of the second set of steps was really really steep. For most of the climb on the second peak, we had to bend our upper body forward just to maintain balance. And each and every step was an effort. There was no breeze, no respite from the heat and from where we stood, all we could see was a very steep incline with seemingly no end and just flights and flights of steep steps to negotiate. Simply put, the second peak is grueling. "
Finally we arrived at Stanley with relief to have made it just as it turned dark. The German calorie-packed dinner at the end was a great reward together with the good old feeling of 'WE DID IT'! Hopefully I'll get to return to Stanley and explore it more in daylight, from the little walk around it appears to be a calm with a well constructed seafront boulevoud.
Some visual impressions of the day:
The red trail on the island is the route we took.
Starting off with a foot massage done the local way - walking on pebbles.
Funny sign along the way.
Wartime outdoor stoves during the Japanese War 1942, never used though.
Tree taken over old building (toilet?):
Nature at its best.
Still feeling fresh!
And the steep stairs start
We think we are doing pretty well, but had no idea what section 1 would be like at this point
And the stairs go on..
The views getting more impressive:
My local tour guide:
View of other side of island:
Did I mention there were stairs? The ones below were still the warm up.
We did get a helpful warning at the start of Section 1:
At this point we thought we were almost there. Not a chance. We still had to conquer both those hills up ahead, the 'Twin Peaks' they call them.
I didn't get my camera out for the real tough sections, my energy was all focused on beating those steps. During the late afternoon the rain started and we found ourselves walking in a cloud. A very special moment to be surrounded by misty mountains and not much else.
Finally reaching Stanley Beach at dusk
The surprise of the meal were the delicious Potato Cakes... we had the Duck Breast, red Cabbage and Apple Sauce, can recommend!