Interview with SK Shum – the founder of the Hong Kong Hiking MeetUp

You’ve been reading my blog for some time? If yes, then you know that I enjoy hiking in Hong Kong and that I’m regularly participating in hikes organised by the Hong Kong Hiking MeetUp. What you might not know is that the group was founded back in February 2005 by SK Shum, who still runs it today. The group organised about 1000 hikes a year, which averages about 3 hikes a day – organised by a group of 50 Assistant organisers.

For today, let me interview SK about his love for hiking in and around Hong Kong:

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What made you start the Hong Kong Hiking MeetUp group?
I started the group with no particular aim. I just wanted to hike with others and show them the beautiful hiking paths of Hong Kong. I wanted to introduce people to the landscape but also do community work together, such as the beach and trail clean-ups that we organise regularly.

Photography course homework 2-2 People Portrait

Did you ever expect it to grow that quickly (to over 10,000 members)?
Not at all. It is one of the largest MeetUp groups in Hong Kong and probably the one with the most events, there are about three hikes every day. Now that the group is so large I rely on other people to keep it going – there are about 50 assistant organisers involved. One day I want them to continue running the group.

HK Hiking Anniversary 1

What are the aims of the group?
Hiking is beneficial to your health – but you’ll also meet new friends, discover parts of Hong Kong that you might not have known before and if you want, you can also get involved in community work. Hong Kong Volunteers is another group that I founded, back in 2007, with the aim to give something back to the society – it’s the sister group of the Hong Kong Hiking MeetUp and you are more than welcome to join this too. The volunteering group supports schools, NGOs, the elderly and the disadvantaged in Hong Kong – and the activity runs from soap recycling over bread/food runs and to after school tutoring.

How can people get involved and also support the running of the Hong Kong Hiking MeetUp group?
Just register as a member on MeetUp. Then check out our calendar and try out an easy hike. We rank our hikes from 1 (very easy) to 5 (very hard). To give you an idea, our usual hikes range between 2.25 and 3.25, with the latter being longer and harder. So if it is your first hike and you are not sure about the difficulty level, read the description carefully. This will tell you where, when to hike, the difficulty rating of the hike (I’d recommend you start with a hike of max. 2.25 if you’ve never hiked with us before) and what to equip. If you still have questions, check out our FAQ which should answers most of your questions.

Photography course homework 3-7 Leading lines

Giving back to the society is really important to you, correct?
Yes, the hiking group is giving back to the society through its beach and trail clean-ups, supporting various hiking events including OXFAM Trailwalker and Barclays Moontrekker. As mentioned above, there is also its sister group Hong Kong Volunteers, that’s all about volunteering and has more than 4,500 members supporting about 400 events a year. I could not believe that many people are actively involved in projects like: meal cooking and packing for needy, English training camps for Chinese schools, visits to live alone elders, primary school tutoring, volunteering in suicide prevention etc…

Lamma Island 4

Can you recommend one easy, one medium and one hard hike for people visiting Hong Kong for the first time?
1) Easy – Quarry Bay MTR to Parkview. The easiest way to hike this is to walk all the way up on Mount Parker Road and then climb up Mount Butler. From there keep on stage 2 of Wilson Trail until you hit Jardine’s Lookout. The length is 6.6 kilometres and it takes about 2-2.5 hours. If you walk from Parkview to Quarry Bay, this is the Wilson Trail 2.

Wilson Trail 2-7 View from Jardine's Lookout

2) Medium – MacLehose Trail stage 2 from Long Ke to Pak Tam Au. The hike is 13.5km long and the average hiking time is estimated to be 5 hours. It is very scenic as it goes past small villages and remote beaches!

MacLehose Trail Stage 2-2

MacLehose Trail Stage 2-4

3) Hard – Pat Sin Leng, which is Wilson Trail Stage 9. This is by far the most amazing part of the Wilson Trail. It is strenuous and tiring, and takes about 3,5 hours to finish the 10,6km but it is absolutely worth it! The trail starts on the summit of Cloudy Hill (which is Wilson Trail Stage 8) and once you reach the top, we are rewarded with the breathtaking views from Ping Fung Shan.

Wilson Trail 9-11

From there, keep walking on the edge of the mountains until you pass Wong Leng, the highest point of the range. The final succession of eight humps is known as the Pat Sin Leng, or Eight Immortals Range, each peak named after a character of Chinese mythology.

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Thanks SK, it was nice talking with you. If you want to find out more about upcoming hikes check out Hong Kong Hiking MeetUp and its sister site Hong Kong Volunteers. Here’s also the Facebook page of the Hong Kong Hikers and an article in ActionAsia about SK’s group.

PS: Missed a previous interview with a Hong Kong blogger or expert? Check out my series here.

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