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.
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.
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