A panoramic view stretching for miles on a beautiful, high visibility
day in Hong Kong (click on the picture to enlarge it!)
The kind of views to be had on a hike in the wilds of Hong Kong
(again, click on the picture to view an enlarged version of it!) :b
In recent years, I've made it a point to go hiking on the first day of Chinese New Year. The first day of Chinese New Year 2013 and 2014 saw me go up Sunset Peak with a friend, while I went on Dragon's Back and up Pottinger Peak (the latter for the first time) on my own on the first day of Chinese New Year last year.
And this "tradition" continued this year with two friends and I hiking along Section 4 of the Wilson Trail -- a hilly 8-kilometer-long route which I've been on once before (on the final day of 2012, actually) and found so beautiful that I told myself that I should return and go on it on a super high visibility day. At the same time, because a rather demanding uphill section of it has very little shade, this trail isn't one that I don't think would be all that pleasant to venture on in the summer months, when visibility is often high but so are the temperature and humidity levels!
Consequently, I figured that this would be a good hike to do over Chinese New Year, when winter's still here but the air's often significantly better on account of the factories over on the Mainland Chinese side of the border have temporarily ceased operations. And so it proved today; one with the kind of high visibility that makes you feel like someone's just wiped the dirt off the window you've had to peer through all along as well as the most gorgeously bright blue sky I've seen in quite a while!
One of those hiking routes that seems to have it all, Section 4 of the Wilson Trail begins in a village where, to judge by the sounds we heard even when fairly deep into the surrounding woods, quite a number of festive lion dances were enacted. It then plunges into a forested section that saw us enjoying the shade and the feeling close to nature even while knowing that one really isn't that far away from "civilization" before abruptly meeting up with a paved road leading to another village, this one (Tai Lam Wu) on considerably higher ground than Tseng Lan Shue, where we began our hike.
After walking a bit on a flat paved road to Ngau Liu, the path becomes considerably more demanding and rugged as it returns to an unpaved state and ascends Tung Yeung Shan, the 533-meter-high hill which is Hong Kong's 39th highest. This section of the trail is one which the likes of myself find impossible to complete in one fell swoop. One reason is that it is pretty steep. The other is because it offers up a veritable view bonanza that, for me, is the absolute highlight of the hike!
Even as your thighs and calves ache and feel like they're on fire, you don't quite want the ascent to end. Because when it does, the trail goes one for just a bit more before it meets up at Tate's Pass with a paved road that connects to Sha Tin Pass, along much of which those who want great views without having to work for it drive up in their cars and ride up on their motorbikes.
On days like today, hikers frequently have to make sure they don't get run over on the final couple kilometers or so of Section 4 of the Wilson Trail by vehicles filled with the kind of people I imagine the "frost chasers" of a few weeks ago are like. This being the first day of Chinese New Year though, I'll be generous and say that at least those people (also) do appreciate how beautiful Hong Kong can be. Now let's hope that we all do our bit to try to care (more) for the environment in this new year of the fire monkey!