Walkin’ on Knife’s Edge.. Tai To Yan and Tai Mo Shan Waterfalls

Full set of pictures here.

I thought I had hiked and/or run pretty much all the trails that Hong Kong has to offer but I had no idea that I was missing the thrill of running along the ridge of a Knife’s Edge. And by that I mean, Tai To Yan which is supposed to mean “Knife’s Edge ridge” in Cantonese. Hannes Niggli, who specializes in bringing fast runners together on “classic” hikes, organized a run from Fanling MTR station to Route Twisk via Tai To Yan and Tai Mo Shan Waterfalls.

20 runners showed up at Fanling MTR ready to walk on Knife’s Edge and equally ready to dunk in another one of Hong Kong’s abundant natural pools. We started at Fanling MTR station and climbed a trail which was initially a stair climb on concrete but soon blended into perfect trail running terrain in the woods. Soon, we started to gain elevation and found ourselves running along the first ridge for the day. Then we had our first glimpse of some spectacular views. Lam Tsuen valley appeared beautifully to our left while Vic’s very own beloved Yuen Long and its low-raise houses appeared to the right.

A fit and formidable bunch – but no so fit and formidable camera lens

After about 30 minutes came the moment of reckoning. I was all pumped up with adrenaline and endorphins as I found myself running along a narrow and undulating ridge offering a 360-degree view of nature. I instantly fell in love with the place and was overwhelmed with a strong desire to “own” it. Unfortunately, a lot of people on the run (read: Hannes and Nora) immediately wanted a piece of the pie, or rather, a piece of the ridge. We eventually left the battle over the Knife Edge for another day. (I think we should resolve this the civilized way – over beers and a bar brawl).

Hannes running down a ridge

On top of the Edge of a Knife

Look at the view! This is why I want to own this place

The descend back to ground level from Tai To Yan was steep and slippery but certainly, a lot of fun. We ended up at Kadoorie farm. If I remember right, this is where two naughty crocodiles captured in the waters of Yuen Long are being cared for. I think they flew in a croc expert from Australia to capture the Yuen Long crocodiles! Anyway, next on the agenda, was another steep climb upto Tai Mo Shan. Again, despite having climbed Tai Mo Shan a gazillion times, I never really knew that it was home to some beautiful waterfalls. To be precise, there are 3 waterfalls – Top, Bottom and Middle Falls. (Yes, Hong Kong seriously lacks some creativity in coming up with catchy names). They should get artists to come up with names of buildings and waterfalls, not engineers or property developers. Engineers would come up with something bland like “Top, Middle and Bottom” whereas property developers would, in all likelihood, come up with some unpronounceable French name like “La Maison Du Nord” to attract mainland Chinese buyers.

Anyway, I digress. Going back to the climb to Tai Mo Shan, there is a shortcut which skips the waterfalls which, of course, we did not take. (Taking shortcuts is beneath us). We took a dip in the Middle and Top falls but couldn’t really spend some quality time there as there was some heavy demand for real estate in the area. (Or should I say waterfall estate?) We had to share the falls with plenty of other hiking groups.

Responsible leader Hannes marking the trail

Looks like Hannes is trying to explain something to a day-dreaming Vic while Dominic is watching on

Tai Mo Shan Waterfalls

A tired looking Bei arriving at the waterfalls. Maybe the Knife’s Edge took its toll on her

Vic, Linda and David (I think)

Dunkin’ in the pools

Posing in front of the falls

We finally reached the hut on Maclehose Trail Stage 8 where the group continued onto Route Twisk while I ran down to Tai Po on Reverse Mac 8 and Wilson Trail. I reached Tai Po MTR station in less than 50 minutes and was in full of self-praise as I thought I had successfully and cleverly managed to find the parking lot where I had parked my motorbike in the morning. Then I had a panic attack. My motorbike was missing! Then I took several deep breaths and analyzed my memory from the morning. I eventually came to a realization that I had parked my motorbike elsewhere! Some more running and clever navigation reunited me with my motorbike and concluded the 6-hour run for the day!

A great day out! This course is a must-do for any nature loving trail runner.

Garmin. Lost the last 30 minutes or so as battery ran out.