“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.”
Ed Viesturs (No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks)
Hong Kong Hike. Not three words you’d expect to find in the same sentence. Because of Hong Kong’s urban reputation only a few people know that the majority of Hong Kong is wilderness. The New Territories, where LPC is located, offer swathes of dense, jungle-like greenery, gleaming gold beaches and beautiful hikes! It’s absolutely beautiful!
Since we live right next to Ma On Shan, called ‘Horse Saddle Mountain’ by the locals, we decided that it was about time for us to explore and climb its peak, towering at only 702 meters. The decision was made last night around midnight. My alarm clock rang at 5:40, it was still dark outside and I was hectically trying to find the off button and not wake up my roomies. I had only slept three hours and therefore it took me a little while until I was fully awake. I put on comfortable clothes and my hiking shoes, then stuffed my water bottle, an apple and little package of German pumpernickel into my backpack. When I opened my door, Anamika was greeting me with a smile, ready to go. At 6 we headed to the gate where we wanted to meet the others. We were quite an international group: Ehab (Egypt), Lucy (UK), Lucas (Norway), Harriet (Sweden), Belce (Turkey), Kylie (USA), Anamika (India) and me.
Our hike started with the stairs that lead to a nice jogging trail and then took a turn right into the woods. It was a pleasant wander through lush green sub-tropical forest and dense vegetation. At one point we almost hiked up a degree of 45 degrees (well, we were rather crawling that part of the hike). After a little while we were surprised to see little swings on the trees and enjoyed indulging in childhood memories.
Our hike continued over roots and rocks, and the scenery was rewarding. Especially when we reached a first clearing right by the edge of the mountain, the view was stunning. We could see a coastal panorama revealing the Sai Kung Peninsula and even our school from the top!
We continued our hike through bushes that were taller than us and then hiked over rugged rock formations, with the the mighty Ma On Shan range constantly beckoning us from high above. On our way up to the top we stopped several times, enjoying the freedom of being up high and taking lots of photos. And then finally we reached the peak. 702 meters above the ground! The view of the New Territories was spectacular. We felt like being in one of the photos that appear in National Geographic, mountains stretching down as far as we could see. After admiring our breathtaking surrounding, we sat down and had a little break with delicious Norwegian chocolate and grapes.
We took a different route down the peak, a path that took us along a remote, wild and windswept ridge, which mercifully began to head down to a rolling plateau. Hiking back was much more difficult as the path did not take us over big rocks and roots through the forest but bushes and loose rocks.
It was a very scenic track that continuously was winding downwards to the city. It was almost as if we were hiking on the line separating the old and the new, nature and civilization, with clusters of skyscrapers and cars on our left, and mountains and lush green on our left.After hiking for a while we reached stairs that took us further down. The hike was coming to an end, and just a little later we arrived at the Ma On Shan recreational ground, where families where already setting up their weekend-barbecue and groups of women were doing Tai Chi, in such a synchronized way, that we were amazed. We felt as if we had been on the mountain for much longer than just a few hours, and just now we realized the scratches on our arms and legs. Slightly tired but very happy and took a taxi back to campus. By the time we arrived there it was only 11 am.
Our co-years were just waking up. It seemed strange to have climbed up and down a mountain while everybody was still sleeping. We headed to the canteen where the brunch buffet made us smile even more: fruits, cereal, tomato and mozzarella… yummy. Getting up early was truly rewarding and we are planning our next hike soon. Stay tuned!