Another Saturday and another test hike for the Moontrekker event to familarise myself with the hike. This time the MeetUp group planned to do the moonlit route, the full 26km from Mui Wo to the Lantau Peak.
We met at Mui Wo ferry pier at 8.30 – and despite the hot temperatures and sunshine, a large group of 48 people turned up. All ready to go and just waiting a few minutes to listen to a briefing of today’s hike. A few of the hikers planned to just go to the base of Sunset Peak and then stop there. Others had plans to walk to Tung Chung after descending Lantau Peak, but my plan was just to finish the hike!
The first part of the hike is easy. A 5km, almost flat, walk along the coast of Mui Wo. It takes you past a few houses and open grasslands. There are a few buffalos living in this area, but they stayed on their pasture and just ignored me, when I took this picture.
This time, I turned right at the junction, ignoring the Chi Ma Wan peninsula walk to my left. Instead, I climbed up the steps to checkpoint 2. This is a tough climb (the first one of the day), which goes steep up the hill and is really exposed. It also gives you the first glance of the Lantau Peak (covered in clouds), so unfortunately you know exactly what’s going to happen next.
I passed the spot for checkpoint 2, but this time did not stop for a break. I wanted to keep moving and made my way along the side of Sunset Peak.
A long but gentle incline passing a number of refreshing waterfalls and streams. A few hikers stopped at the pool and refreshed themselves, but again, I ignored it and followed Maki, a Japanese hiker I met on the previous hike, walking towards Pak Kung Au.
We made it to checkpoint 3 and again no stopping. Down the road and following the signs to Ngong Ping. We walked through a small village and past a monastery called Tei Tong Tsai. For centuries, this ancient trail formed the only link between Tung Chung old village and Ngong Ping.
It took us 4km to reach Ngong Ping campsite. Finally we stopped and had a quick break in the shade. By now it was 12.30, so everyone was fearing the sun. We added new layers of sun tan lotion, met a few fellow hikers and then followed the Lantau trail to the base of Lantau Peak.
Now the toughest 6km began. The ascent from Ngong Ping to the Summit of Lantau Peak is tiring and very tough. I let Maki go on her own (she’s much quicker than me) and just followed slowly on my own pace. I took me almost an hour to climb to the top of Lantau Peak, which is 934m above sea level. I had to move slowly and stop every 200 steps, just to catch my breath again.
Luckily the sun had decided to hide behind the clouds, so it was not too hot. There was a breeze on top and the temperature was bearable. Still, I was a little annoyed that I climbed Lantau Peak the second time (here’s the first time’s blog post) just to be faced with clouds again. No view whatsoever. What a shame.
I started to descend again, and I could feel my feet being in pain – I wanted to move faster, to make it to the bus stop quicker, but I could not. It took me another 40 minutes to the bottom of Lantau Peak (to the bus stop on Tung Chung road) and it was a tiring walk.
I enjoyed the views, over to the rainy Tung Chung on the left, Sunset Peak opposite me (glad I did not have to climb this beast today) and some lovely islands out in the Chinese Sea to my right.
The whole hike was 24km (I skipped the last 2km to the beach) and took me 6,5 hours to complete. Given that I am just a ‘volunteer’ at the actual race day, I am happy to say that there were many drop-outs on the day and a few people that finished the hike in 8-9 hours!