Sunday, July 7, 2013

Shui Lo Cho (水澇漕), Man Cheung Po (萬丈布), and Lung Tsai Ng Yuen (龍仔悟園)

(9 kilometers)
4 to 5 hours

Difficulty: 10/10. Hands required to climb some of the sections, even the bypasses. Option to make it easier is to stop at the infinity pool and return.

Cel phone coverage: None in the stream. Some when within 1 km of Tai-O

Water needs: 1.5 liters

Appreciation: 9/10. You can swim in all the pools but for the reservoir one (infinity pool)

Transportation: Take bus 11 from Tung Chung to Tai O, and back.Tends to get busy on weekends and holidays. You can also ferry to Mui Wo, take bus #1 to Tai-O, return via 11 to Tung Chung.

Why it's worth it:


Just off the bus terminus, take the bridge
Pretty trivial at this point. Head right at the end of the bridge.

It's about a 3km mostly flat walk until you will reach the stream entrance.

The stream entrance, just after this little bridge

View on the right from the stream entrance

First falls is just about 50m in. Bypass is on the right.
However, you can also swim to the bottom of the falls and climb it directly. Quite easy
These falls can be bypassed on the left. From that point on, you can follow the yellow ribbons for the bypasses. Most of the time, you can also relatively easily climb in the waterfall itself. Then you'll reach the escarpment with the catch water basin (the so-called infinity pool). It should be bypassed on the left 'cause it is guarded now.

Right after that bypass, and about 1km into the stream, you'll reach the Man Cheung Po infinity pool (a catchwater bassin really). Nice to chill there for a while but can no longer swim. You can exit to the trail here or keep going up the stream. 
Then, right behind the infinity pool is a very tall waterfall which can be bypassed on the right.
That bypass is non-trivial. It is marked with yellow ribbons
Next waterfall is easy to recognized as it has a double stream. Bypass on the right
Right after, you reach a critical point in the trek where you don't want to go wrong. The streams forks into 2 branches. You absolutely want to be on the left branch. The right branch is more obvious but there's really nothing there all that interesting anymore and the exit is not obvious and involves bushwhacking.
So, stick to the left. There should be a ribbon marking the entry to the path to the left. Then you immediately climb the rocks that are in between the 2 streams.

Rocks to climb between the 2 streams. Very easy. No ribbons before you reach the top.

You will see these nice falls on your left (if they are not all dried up), you know you are on the right path.

Then the path on top of the ridge should be visible

Finally, you'll reach out the paved path right by a bridge that crosses the stream which was on your left.
Head left over the bridge

Right. 'TAI O via LUNG TSAI'

Left here at the intersection. From this point on, you can follow the yellow signs with 'TAI O via LUNG TSAI'

Lung Tsai Ng Yuen (龍仔悟園). The estate has been sold so, can't get in anymore.
For pictures and a bit of history:

There you go. From that point on, it is just a matter of following the path back to Tai-O where you can return home either via Bus 11 to Tung Chung, or bus 1 to Mui Wo, then ferry back to the city

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mac2 to Sharp Peak (蚺蛇尖)

(15.86 kilometers)
6 to 7 hours
Difficulty: 10/10. Hands required to climb some of the sections. Make sure you print the Garmin map for reference.
Appreciation: 10/10. One if not the most scenic hike in Hong Kong.

Transportation: From Sai Kung, take a cab to High Island Reservoir dam 萬宜水庫 (get all the way to the pavilion). At the end, take a boat from the Chek Keng Hau bay pier to Wong Shek pier.To do on a Sunday so you can take the 96R back to the Diamond Hill MTR.

Why it's worth it:


The cab should drop you off at the Easternmost part of the High Island reservoir. Right after the principal dam and the pavilion, you'll head left and start climbing.

After 20 minutes or so of climbing up and down, you'll reach Long Ke beach which is  paradisaical and  nicely shaded, making it a nice spot for pic-nics or even camping if you're into it. Once you're done, follow the trail, more climbing and awesome vistas as per photo (Long Ke)

After the 300 meters climb, you'll start going downhill and eventually reach the merging point with the trail that most Sunday hikers take coming from Sai Kung (it is much easier). Head right.

Arriving in Sai Wan village.

Food break or keep going.

Sai Wan beach. The next bit has no shades so it is a bit painful if you do it in the summer and mid-day. 

After 30-40 minutes and a few "wow" moments, you will have reached Ham Tin Wan where you can rest a bit, have some food, restock your water supply and enjoy the beach. The toughest part of the hike is yet to come so, you'll need all the energy you can muster.
Once you are done, go right through the store and take a left.

After this point, it's all quite obvious; just follow the trail. It is not a steep climb but it keeps going up for about 50 minutes with not much in terms of nice views as rewards for a job well done.

About a 2km walk up from Ham Tin beach (between M039 and M040), you'll reach a bench at the top of a hill with a this sign which describes Sharp Peak. At this point, you must decide if you still have the energy to tackle it because it is going to be a strenuous 2km up, followed by a no-less strenuous 2km down which will bring you back to this very same location you are now at. The path to Sharp Peak is pretty obvious but quite hazardous. If you don't feel good about using your hands to climb some of the sections, don't go.
On the way back, keep going on Maclehose section until you reach M042. There should be a set of stairs going down on the right towards the bay and a path will lead you to the pier where boats can take you to Wong Shek pier. It costs $150 to charter the boat so if you are alone , wait for other hikers to join you so the price can come down to something more reasonable. 

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Please, don't litter!

Hiking is about communion with nature. So please pickup after yourself. There's no excuse to leave plastic bags, water bottles or any rubbish on or around the trails; if you managed to bring it, you can manage to bring it back!