OHE January 7, 2000 (Hong Kong Long Trail)

Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2000 20:08:43 -1000
From: Wing C Ng (wing@lava.net)
Subject: Long hike in Hong Kong

I was in Hong Kong for 10 days, and did several hikes. I report on the most "serious" hike I did. For me, often a serious hike means walking in the dark :-)

The MacLehose Trail is 100 km long (1 km = 0.62 mi.), and comes in 10 sections. I did them all before except for Sec. 2. So I decided to do Sections 1-3 on 1/3/00, and also take a side trip to Nam She Peak.

Sec. 1 is paved road, 10 km, Sec. 2 is 13.5 km, and Sec. 3 is about 12 km. So the total is 35.5 km or 22 mi. Trails in HK are enormously better than on Oahu. They are at least 5 feet wide, and often have hard surface of paved stones.

The side trip to Nam She takes maybe two more miles (total 24 mi.). It means Python Snake. Never understood why, as no one has observed snakes there, but people claim that the peak looks like a snake rearing up its head. It is a sharp peak (indeed its name in English is "Sharp Peak"), that looks like Olomana 3rd Peak, but tamer.

I started at the end of sec. 3 and backtracked. Sec. 3 was easy and in one hour I got to the intersection with Nam She trail. Took another hour or so to climb to the top of Nam She. There is one steep cliffy side at the top, but there are two sides which are not too bad. So I went down another not too steep side, which follows ridges that descend all the way to a long beach on the ocean.

Then I walked on contour trails couple hundred feet above sea-level, much like the Kalalau trail and then got to a village, where I rejoin sec. 2. There I bought three cans of sodas to quench my thirst. Temperature was above normal that day and was about 70.

Then I started on sec. 2, which was terra incognita that I never did before. Since it is only slightly longer than sec. 3, I expected to finish in 1.5-2 hours.

Severe miscalculation. The trail was near the coastline with hills and bays. So the route goes up one hill, goes down into the bay, and then does it again, and again. The last stretch was going over several hills to about 1000 feet, and then another bay. I took 2.5 hours to get to the last bay. A couple walked in the opposite direction, and I asked how far, and they said about 45 min. to the end of sec. 2.

I climbed one last hill and saw the end of sec. 2, which was one mighty dam that created a gigantic lake/reservoir from the sea between the mainland and a large island. I finally got to the dam at 5:35 pm, about 1.5 hours behind expectations.

There is another 6.2 mi. on the road which circles this gigantic lake. The road is paved, and cars with special permits can come in. I did this before, in 1983, and remembered it took slightly less than 2 hours. Darkness comes about 6:15, but I thought I was prepared: I bought one cheap flashlight in town and put it in my pack.

The air in Hong Kong is often severely polluted from the industry in South China, and so after the sun set, the dust particles reflect sunlight and urban lighting 20 miles away fairly well, even though there is no moon and no starlight. It was tolerable until 6:30, when I got to the other dam at the other end, and I took out the flashlight.

As happened before, the flashlight battery is close to death. It only emitted a dim yellow light that does not even illuminate 5 feet away. In disgust I turned it off and walked by the dust- reflected light.

In the distance comes a car with bright headlight. It drove by me and kept going. Then a minute later, it turned around and came back.

The two guys stopped and talked to me. They said that they are worried about me walking alone in the dark, but they have suspicion that I am an illegal immigrant from Mainland China (some of whom commit burglaries and robberies). So they offered me a ride but first wanted me to turn around so they can look at my back. I did, and they were satisfied that I didn't carry weapons or tools of burglary and let me in the backseat.

Then they said, "we saw you, an Older Gentleman, walking all by yourself, and we are worried about you, because there are lots of illegal immigrants in this area committing crimes." I am quite annoyed and surprised that they think I am OLD!! After all, how can they see my age in the dark!, but I am not going to give up the ride just because of this affront to my own belief in my own youth and vigor :-)

The ride took 10 minutes, what would take another hour on foot. I thanked them profusely, and picked up a taxi at the trailhead to get home.


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