Sharp Peak via The North Face

For a change, I went on a hike, yes, not a run, but a hike! Ironically, this is probably one of the very few “hiking” posts published on this hiking domain,

This was no ordinary hike. I joined the Meetup group on a very special hike to my luxury property in Sai Kung, i.e. Sharp Peak. We took the backdoor entrance to my property, which is a scenic trail called The North Face. No, not because it’s sponsored by the company of the same name but because it connects to the North side of Sharp Peak. (Or so I believe. Anyway, since I am the owner, I can change the name of the trail as I please). This trail is also one of the most scenic trails in Hong Kong. It’s a rather steep trail that connects the summit of my Sharp Peak (400m) to a secluded and pristine beach called Lam Chi Wan which is in one of the remotest parts of Sai Kung.

We took a boat from Wong Shek pier to [xyz] (I don’t remember the name of the place but like Shakespeare says, “what’s in the name?”) This is where we began our walk.

Gathering near Wong Shek Pier

We also met our well educated guide for the day here. He seemed very fit, had immense knowledge of the terrain and was quite eager to please all of us for a biscuit or two. He was none other than THE DOG OF SHARP PEAK. (Imagine super hero music playing in the background).

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s SUPER DOG!

Superdog lead the way and like a true gentleman (or rather, “gentledog”), he waited patiently at various junctions for us slower humans to catch up with him. But then, when Bill, our human leader, wanted to lead us on a well marked downhill stretch to Lam Chi Wan (the start of the uphill climb to Sharp Peak), Superdog refused to follow us. We didn’t know why as he was a dog of few words. He wagged his tail, snarled and simply stopped at the junction just before this downhill stretch. We all thought that Superdog had lost his super powers and had become super tired. So, we left him at this junction and carried on. But, several minutes later, the words “THE DOG IS RIGHT” echoed in the air. We, the poor humans, hit a dead end because our knowledge of the terrain was no match for Superdog! We had to backtrack to the junction where we saw Superdog strutting along the right trail, as though he had anticipated our folly.

Dogging it

Lam Chi Wan

Dog passing through

We then climbed a rather steep and slippery trail all the way to my home on Sharp Peak. It looked like Superdog had arranged to meet his girlfriend there (the dog version of Lois Lane). His girlfriend seemed to have taken the Mac trail to the summit of Sharp Peak. She was the Mac Dog (not Macdonalds but Maclehose).

Superdog’s Lois Lane aka The Mac Dog on the summit of Sharp Peak

After witnessing this doggy reunion, we left Sharp Peak and proceeded straight down to Mac 2 and exited at Pak Tam Au.

The North Face route is one hike that every hiker in Hong Kong ought to do! And, by the way, to all those idiots leaving rubbish on my summit (cigarette butts, etc, etc), your days are numbered. The owner is watching.

Attacking Sharp Peak from its rear + Dai Man Shaan

The full set of pictures are here.

In order to celebrate the purchase of my new hiking shoes, it was time to visit Sharp Peak again. Or rather, it was time to sneak up on Sharp Peak by climbing it from its rear. (yes, hikers can be a little perverted).

So, joined the Meetup group on a classic Sai Kung Loop hike with the intention of climbing up Sharp Peak from the North. South would be the usual way from Mac 2. After that, the plan was to have lunch at Ham Tin and then climb Mosquito Hill (Dai Man Shaan) before returning to Mac 2.

Now, here’s the step-by-step guide to climbing Sharp Peak from its rear.

a) Go to Wong Shek pier (but 94 from Sai Kung bus station)
b) Take a ferry to Ko Lau Wan (infrequent and it cost HKD 14 each)

Group gathering at Wong Shek pier

That’s Ko Lau Wan

Leaving Wong Shek Pier

c) Once you reach Ko Lau Wan, follow the water pipes all the way to the Ko Lau Wan beach! There’s this huge stretch of water pipe from the pier to the beach

Approaching Ko Lau Wan

Looks like some fisherman made a prize catch!

The communal post boxes! Feel free to flick letters!

c.1) Now, turn the leadership over to the guy in the group who likes superheroes (especially Spiderman) or to someone you don’t like. This is because this guy will be destroying several spiderwebs paving the way for spider and web-free walking. I took on this role and destroyed several spider homes

The trail

Is it a plane? a bird? No it’s a spiderweb! A job for the groups’ Spiderman to clear

d) The hike to Sharp Peak from the beach ain’t easy. There’s a super climb, it was very slippery today when we did it and it requires good concentration, and some deft climbing! (400m)

No camera trick here – it’s really that steep!

As much as getting to Sharp Peak required some strong physical strength, admiring the view from there today demanded strong mental strength, i.e. imagination. One had to imagine the beautiful beaches, rolling greenery and the amazing landscape hundreds of meters below as one could hardly see what was 10m away! Visibility was bad!

Hey, but there was nature on the peak to admire!

Pretty lady bug

View going down

Mammoth jelly fish

So, after sneaking up on Sharp Peak from its rear, we headed down to Ham Tin for lunch.

Armed with a coke, some chilli+curry fried rice and more determination, it was time to attach the next hill for the day – Dai Man Shaan, i.e. Mosquito Hill.

All the bad Karma from the morning came back to haunt me – I am talking about destroying spiderwebs! Nature took its revenge on my sexy legs as pointy branches and shrubs left numerous scratches on my legs. This was bushwhacking incarnate. Adding to it, the slippery terrain (rain from yesterday), it was even tougher! Thanks to the fried rice though, had enough energy to attack (and enjoy) Dai Man Shaan as well.

Eventually, reached at Mac 2 at about 1810 and did a nice run to finish at Pak Tam Au.

Fantastic day out!


Hiking, 2009-01-04, Kau Nga Ling and Lantau

Pics here.

New Year’s Walk Report – Jan 4th 2009

Who are you and where is Francis?
12 Trampers were waiting at 10.30AM just outside the Tung Chung MTR station to join legendary leader Francis on a Lantau exploration hike.

A gentleman munching on a fruit, wearing an immaculate jumper, sporting a clean haircut and carrying a map in one hand showed up a few minutes later. After staring at this gentleman for a couple of seconds in much disbelief and denial, we realized it was leader Francis!

“Give him a shirt and tie and he’ll look like an Investment Banker!!” Lutz exclaimed.

(for those of you who aren’t too familiar with Francis, us regulars liken him to Clark Kent of Superman –minus Lois Lane, of course- since he is rarely seen eating/drinking/carrying maps on a hike and yet has enormous endurance and strength)

We took the usual bus #11 to Mr. Buddha’s residence at Ngong Ping and began walking from there in the direction of Lantau Peak. We were not really looking forward to taking the series of steep steps up to Lantau Peak which is when Alex came up with a pleasant New Year surprise for all of us – a beautiful boulder trail that would elevate us right to the majestically standing 918M peak.

Mission briefing
Fortunately, the Francis we knew emerged from the back of the group for his usual mission briefing, having changed into his usual outfit – tee-shirtless and wearing his trademark Flap Cap (see previous walk report) and a Little-Red-Riding-Hood style red scarf draped around his head. He gave us a How-To-Use-Ropes 101 lesson, which I doubt anyone really paid attention to. He warned us that he was not to be charged any money or blamed, if we hurt ourselves using the ropes wrongly because of ignorance.

“We have insurance”, I said to Francis to appease him. “And I have a DISCLAIMER”, retorted Francis, quickly remembering that his walk proposal came with some generous disclaimers.

He finally issued his ‘go’ command, setting all of us climbing the 918M hill on 4 limbs along the boulder trail.

The trail was certainly among one of the most beautiful ones I have been on. We were admiring the beauty of the surroundings from time to time while focusing on climbing using all our 4 limbs slowly, but steadily. The giant Mr. Buddha appeared smaller and smaller as we were gaining elevation.

The scenery was, to say the least, spectacular. Pictures do speak a thousand words and you should check them out. The challenging and sometimes dangerous boulder climbing exercise also highlighted the way some smart people think.

For example, there is this one tremendously strong, almost Terminator like Tramper that everyone has to be wary of. I can’t name him for privacy reasons but I’ll give you a hint – his name begins with a ‘L’, ends with a ‘Z’ and there’s a ‘U’ and a ‘T’ in between). I’ll call him ‘Tramper T’ (T for Terminator) for purposes of this report. Tramper T doesn’t like to be in pictures and there was even an incident where he was once spotted carrying hardcore explosives in his back pack! Yes, there was an occasion where the contents of his backpack suddenly exploded during a hike leaving a cloud of stinky smoke behind and completely traumatizing the Tramper who was innocently walking behind him. Rumor has it that this innocent Tramper still hasn’t recovered from the shock! When confronted, Tramper T, who nobody usually dares to question, attributed the explosion to faulty Yau Ma Tei batteries. (You decide whether you are going to believe him or not!) Now, on this occasion, Tramper T wanted to climb ahead in front of everyone else because then there would be no way for a boulder that has been set rolling down accidentally to hit him. (Based on this thinking and his modus operandi, I suspect he must have received military training somewhere).

Anyway, so we continued on the boulder trail and eventually walked along another captivating path.

“I never knew there was a trail here”, I said surprised.

“Actually, I think we are making one!” said Hiroko, correcting me, as we trudged past the overgrown trees.

The trail was fantastic. We saw some beautiful rocks and there was even one with a pair of real, black hiking shoes strategically stuck in the middle of it. I really don’t know what a pair of hiking shoes was doing there. I think it was probably some “cool” act of vandalism. Alex told us that the shoes had been there for 2+ years and were brown in color the last time he saw them!

We eventually reached a steep section that was impossible to climb without the help of ropes. Francis harbored no grudge against us for booing his previous Rope 101 lesson and even offered to re-demonstrate the correct usage of ropes.

“Hold the rope like this. Put your foot over here and climb up.

When you reach the tree (the tree was on top of this steep section), hug her like your mother or throw your arms around her and kiss her like she’s your girlfriend”, he explained as he demonstrated with passion.

Lutz and Alex’s helping hands, as well as the tree’s love made the climbing matter rather easy. We left the pampered tree behind and carried on traversing along the trail to reach the Lantau Trail intersection.

The many challenges of the day left the group zapped of energy and we voted unanimously to take the proper Lantau trail back to Pak Kung Au/Tung Chung.

Nerissa correctly read my mind and announced “On your marks, get set” and I ran off back to civilization to Tung Chung. The rest of the group had plans to walk up to Tung Chung at a slower pace on the Lantau Country Trail.

Thanks to Francis and Alex for organizing this beautiful hike. My pictures are at the usual link.