Training Diaries 2014: Tai To Yan and Tai Mo Shan Waterfalls

Training Diaries 2014: Tai To Yan and Tai Mo Shan Waterfalls

Tai To Yan: It means “Knife’s edge” in Chinese but I don’t think it is quite as ominous as it sounds. Something like Sharp Peak is probably more deserving of that title. What Tai To Yan does deserve, however, is a entry into the Top 4 Spectacular ridges in Hong Kong. Speaking of which, my personal favorites in that category would be:

1. Plover Cove ridge: this ridge is a sure cure for depression. Life sucks, boss is an idiot, etc, etc – – just run Plover Cove and experience a positive change in the state of your mind (FYI: I am one of the owners of this)
2. Tai To Yan ridge: this ridge will make you realize that what makes Hong Kong truly special is its countryside and not its cliché skyscrapers
3. Pat Sin Leng ridge: Another spectacular ridge which will certainly cement the thought that Hong Kong should be better known for its countryside than its skyscrapers. The views are different from Tai To Yan but equally stunning. This ridge makes you feel as if you are in the mountains of China
4. Ma On Shan ridge: a much shorter ridge, but when on it, you will feel euphoric. The beautiful landscape of Sai Kung and its beaches appear on one side and a green valley on the other

So, what makes Tai To Yan so stunning?
There are photos below so you can see for yourself but not before I bore you with a brief summary of today’s training.

Around 13 of us got together in Fan Ling (Exit A) and started walking up a concrete slope/steps, about 200m from the MTR station. As soon as we were in running mode, sweat started pouring down our faces as though someone had opened a faucet.

Ready to start running on the Tai To Yan ridge

After panting up a lot of concrete steps, the trail opened up to reveal its beauty. Tai Po town was visible on the left and Shenzhen on the right.

Concrete steps and slopes leading to this trail

And it gets more and more beautiful

The ridge – Tai Po on the right (I think) and the rear ends of Brendan/Dom/Hannes (admittedly, not so beautiful) but the focus, of course, is on the beautiful undulating ridge!

Milos smiling for the camera from afar

Another shot of the Tai To Yan ridge with Tai Po on the right

The mountain flowers are blooming!

About 10kms and 1 hour 45 minutes later, we reached a road next to Kadoorie farm. Milos was affected by the heat and I went back to look for him. I found a couple of wild fruits on the ground and tossed one of them upto Milos, who I saw at a distance. What neither of us realized was that the fruit had needles in it! (Doh!) Unfortunately, both Milos and I had to spend some time removing needles from our palms and fingers. So, ladies and gentlemen, here’s a tip (learned the hard way): those wild fruits on the way to the road from Tai To Yan – don’t pick them up!

Part 2 – Tai Mo Shan Waterfalls
From the road, we ran about 1km to another inclined concrete pavement which is where the trail to Tai Mo Shan waterfalls begins. We refueled at a monastery at the end of the road. A grandfather who appeared to be 80+ years old was manning the shop. He kept forgetting who had paid him how much and what change was due. We had to use our exuberant youth to help him do the math!

Tai Mo Shan waterfalls is a climb of about 800m all the way to the “Top Falls”. Of course, one has to cross “Bottom Falls” and “Middle Falls” along the way. The names might sound nondescript and unimaginative but the waterfalls was definitely a thing of beauty. Here, take a look:

The “Main Falls” – Hannes takes a dip to cool himself down

Nature’s bathtub?

After we reached the top falls at about 800m, we had a decision to make. We could either have gone down back to that road from where we started (3km) or climbed up a further 200m to the top of Tai Mo Shan. Dom and Tina wanted to take the easy way out and go back down to the road while the rest of us wanted to go up to the top of Tai Mo Shan.

But, fortunately for Dom and Tina, they had Hannes, Noah, Adrian and I to offer them some sound (and free) advice. We collectively informed them of the dangerous python that lurked somewhere on that trail back to the road. We told them that the python was ready to attack any passing human. And, of course, we did not forget to educate them about that venomous cobra that also lay camouflaged somewhere on that trail (it had a reputation for having a special appetite for English blood). Not only that, we told them how much of a real danger the slippery parts of the trail really was. In fact, some were known to have broken an ankle or two going down that trail!

Luckily for Dom and Tina, they took our advice and panted up the last 200m of Tai Mo Shan with the rest of us.

The group then split into two — we had the Route Twisk group that climbed over Tai Mo Shan to finish this 24km “classic” run at Route Twisk and the second group -the “Tai Po” group- that went all the way on reverse Stage 8 of the Mac Trail to finish at Tai Po MTR station.

Speaking of Tai Mo Shan, it’s another one of Hong Kong’s beauties. Check this out:

Tai Mo Shan – parts of it feel like you are in some valley high up in the mountains

Amazing, isn’t it?

And no hike can be complete without a shameless self-shot…

We finished this run after a gentle jog all the way back to Tai Po MTR station.
24kms, 1500m elevation and plenty of endorphins from the glorious views and the natural beauty of the trails.