Guess what I went on today!
Yep, not the cable car ride
but the hiking trail instead! ;b
And yes, a good part of the trail consists of
steps as well as is on wood
"Rain, rain go away!", I wanted to cry for much of this week -- heck, for much of this past month because it really has been an unusually wet November for Hong Kong. Among other things, although I am not complete averse to hiking in the rain, I really do prefer to hike in drier conditions and on ground that is not damp and consequently apt to be on the slippery side.
So I was pretty happy yesterday to find that the weather forecast for today had rain patched predicted only in the morning. Alternatively put, even if I wouldn't be able to avoid hiking on damp ground, I figured that I'd at least not have to hike in the rain.
Because I had to take into account the damp ground conditions today, I decided on a trail that would involve going up much more than going down. More precisely, I'd say that around 80-90% of the Ngong Ping 360 Rescue Trail (AKA the Ngong Ping 360 Mule Trail because it reportedly was used by the mules enlisted to help carry materials for the construction of the Ngong Ping 360 cable car ride) that my hiking buddy and I went on consisted of steps that we walked up rather than down!
Should anyone wonder, I have no idea how many steps they were in total. Frankly, I didn't want to know while going on the 5.6 kilometer trail that we went on today (but if pushed to guess, I'd say easily over 1,000!). However, I do know that the official time estimate for completing the hike from Tung Chung up around 500 meters in elevation to Lantau's Ngong Ping plateau is four hours -- in contrast to the three hour estimate for the journey if done from Ngong Ping to Tung Chung -- and that my hiking buddy and I actually did the hike in just 2 hours and 40 minutes!
Frankly, I'm quite amazed at our quick hike time -- not least because we made sure to walk slowly and carefully along the damp and consequently apt to be slippery wooden portions of the hike, some bits of it were made even more slippy by the mud tracks and slip marks of other hikers (at least one of whom I saw fall in front of me -- though he very fortunately looked none the worse for wear from his fall).
But it also made sense that we were quicker than normal today because the cooler weather made it so that there were few bug spottings to be made today. In addition, the clouds enveloped Ngong Ping and the surrounding mountains for much of today -- and, consequently, we were hiking in the mist for at least half of the time this afternoon. On the minus side, this meant that we weren't treated to views for much of the way. On the plus side, this meant that we could concentrate more on making sure that we wouldn't slip and fall as often as we otherwise would. (For the record, my hiking buddy slipped just once -- and I fell just once during today's hike!)
Should it not be clear, this was one of the more challenging hikes I've been on in Hong Kong. But I also will state that it's one of the most satisfying -- this not least because I've wanted to go along this trail for some time now... and now I've finally done so! (Also, yes, the weather could have been better but, in all honesty, I'm not sure I could ever get motivated to do this steep, multi-step hike in sunnier -- and consequently warmer -- weather!)