Tag Archives: Lantau peak

MoonTrekker 2012: A step towards my 2013 objectives

17 Jan

MoonTrekker happened three months ago but I have not gotten the chance or time to go over and share my story. With a new job that started one week after the event (happy dance!), I ended up focusing much more on my new workload than on the blog. But now, with almost three months into my new position and a few weeks of holiday in my hometown of Quebec, I have had time to regroup and put my thoughts into words.

I had initially planned on preparing a well-detailed race report with pictures and crunchy details. However, with this unfortunate three months delay, the anecdotes faded out. Preparing a race report was turning out to be a chore rather than a fun blogging experience, so I took some time off and decided to just sit back and get inspired by what this ambitious challenge had been like.

As expected, MoonTrekker ended up being an amazing experience for me. I loved every single part of it. From the moment I bought my energy gels for the night, until my hot shower on the Sunday morning before climbing into bed and getting some well-deserved rest. Here are some of the lows and highs we experienced:

My lows:

  • Seeing two of my teammates suffering from hip and knee injuries. Kudos to both of them for not giving up and finishing up the race in a more than impressive time.
  • Feeling as if that last 2km on concrete was never going to end. Feeling so close yet so far from the finish line…
  • Sitting on the floor of the MTR on my way home, dreaming of a hot shower and a delicious breakfast. Bacon had been on my mind since at least 4am!

My highs:

  • Feeling in top shape during and after the race. All these early morning hikes and late ascents of Lion Rock had paid off.
  • Eating some delicious pumpkin soup at CP3. Speaking of checkpoints, I have to add that all the MoonTrekker volunteers truly outdid themselves. They definitely made each checkpoint a relaxing and very enjoyable place to rest.
  • Reaching Lantau Peak earlier than expected. I had assumed that we were going to witness the sunrise from the top of the peak but ended up there at 5am. It was cold and windy so we decided to just head back down right away. On the way down, it was great to see Lantau Island slowly waking up. It gave us the unique opportunity to see the cavorting colors in the sky from the rising morning sun, combined with the contestants’ headlights piercing through the skyline, almost like a little light show.

Lantau Peak in the morning

Lantau Island waking up

Sunrise over Cheung Sha beach

After witnessing such a beautiful sunrise, we attempted to run (read fast walk) down to the finish line. We hugged. Some of us laughed, some of us cried… We quickly ate a more-than-average hot dog and then we went home. What did I do that weekend? I slept, I ate, I relaxed. It was simple but was much needed. It was finally over.

And now? What happens afterwards? What are my plans post-MoonTrekker? What do I have in mind for 2013? Well, I do have many ideas and objectives for the coming year… I definitely want to become more involved in similar events: trail running, hiking, mountain biking. And I will. Here is a quick overview:

First of all, I want to help. After MoonTrekker, I started to volunteer at a few outdoors events and races in Hong Kong. I was so impressed by the volunteers’ work ethic and passion. For example, in Moontrekker, they supported us all night. And I mean all night, in the October cold (HK standards of course! I’m from Quebec after all). Without them, the experience would have been totally different. So I want to help out as well. Thus, it is a good way for me to understand better how races work. This coming weekend, I will be volunteering for the Vibram Hong Kong 100, one of the most intense events in Hong Kong in my opinion. I look forward to it.

Secondly, I want to race. I want to get better at running so I registered for my next event, the Hong Kong Standard Chartered half-marathon. It’s not on the trails but it will definitely be a good way to test my running endurance. It will take place at the end of February. I must admit that I am slightly nervous, having never run such distance before. But I like challenges.

Finally, I want to join a trail running club and improve my running skills while training with like-minded passionate people. It does intimidate me but it will be good for me and will push me. There are so many trails to discover out there and I think I need some partners in crime.

In a nutshell, my objective for 2013 is to keep exploring Hong Kong (and some other regions of South-East Asia) on my two feet, whether it is by volunteering at races, racing, or training for these specific events. Who doesn’t love a little adventure every now and then? While training for MoonTrekker, I really got the opportunity to explore fascinating parts of Lantau Island that definitely evoked memories from my past outdoor adventures abroad. While volunteering at a few events over the past few weeks, I discovered new trails that I am quite curious to tackle. After my half-marathon in February, I have some new projects in mind. A little too early to disclose, but I have ideas….

Since the event, I have been back on the trails only once when a former Moonshine team member and I hit Lion Rock one night after work. I have been running a lot, but on concrete more than anything else. Writing this post is giving me the hitch nonetheless. It is time to plan my next visit to the mountains. I am back from cold, artic Canada and ready to hit the trails this season!

 

Lantau Peak and I

14 Oct

As part of my training for the MoonTrekker event, I have been spending a lot of time on Lantau Peak lately. This race involves a lot of uphill training. Being 934 meters above sea level, the mountain serves as a great training ground. I have been going up and down Lantau Peak as much as my busy schedule would allow me. During my frequent hikes up there (which always occur either very early in the morning or fairly late in the evening), I am bombarded with mixed emotions about it.

With the night race happening in less than a week, (the countdown has begun), I have decided to take a few minutes to regroup and analyze my thoughts.

Lantau Peak: I seem to have a hate-love relationship with you as you make my life so difficult at times by pushing me on the verge of exhaustion, while still constantly bringing the best out of me.

1-

You make me get up way too early when we have our Saturday morning encounters. It is even worst when sleepy Chinese boyfriend looks so comfortable underneath the blankets.

On the other hand, I get to witness this colorful sky shooting through the morning mist, while sitting on the Star ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central Pier 6.

And I get to enjoy the calmness and serenity of the night when hitting the trails after dark.

2-

You make my legs hurt. Really hurt. For a few days…

On the bright side, I am getting great muscular legs that are definitely making the boyfriend happy. A good little ego booster I might add! You are also a great excuse for a foot massage afterwards. Hello Chiba House!

3-

You are steep and challenging. You sometimes scare me when I look at you from afar especially after already having quite a few kilometers of hiking under my belt. I now know what to expect and I am fully aware that reaching the top is not going to be a brisk walk.

On the other hand, I am lucky enough to enjoy such breathtaking sceneries throughout the entire journey. Amazing panoramas I had no idea existed in a crowded and congested city like Hong Kong.

4-

Even though the more I hike, the easier it gets, you sometimes get so intense that I just want to give up and head back down. On certain occasions, you even make me doubt about my decision of enrolling in this 40km night race…

But in the end…

I get to enjoy all of this with three other great girls: the fried chicken dreamer/mantra repeater, the fit mother of one/insatiable skittles eater, and the proud wearer of the famous white visor/spider hater.

Most of all, I forget about my stress and my unhappy moments every time I hike up your steep rocky path. I am often left with this feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment as I head back home afterwards.

These last months of training have sometimes been quite intense. I had to make some sacrifices here and there to fit in the training sessions into my busy schedule. But in the end, let’s face it. My regular hikes up Lantau Peak have made me want to push myself a little bit further and definitely encouraged me to get involved in similar adventure events, which occur regularly throughout the year in Hong Kong. I secretly hope Team Moonshine will join me in my new aspirations!

This is my humble take on Lantau Peak. Is the hike up the peak worth a try? Definitely! Whether it is as a training session or as a weekend excursion, the journey offers incredible sceneries and needless to say that you will get a great workout out of it. It might be difficult to get a view from the top of Lantau Peak, as it often gets cloudy and hazy, but the way up and the stroll down will still be rewarding. Just be aware that this is not a walk in the park. Be prepared.

Where is it?

There are two ways to reach Lantau Peak. I have tried both hikes and each way has its ups and downs (no pun intended)!

Option 1: This path, also known as Stage 3 of the Lantau trail, will take you from Pak Kung Au to Ngong Ping via Lantau Peak. From Pak Kung Au, head straight up. Once you reach the peak, you go down the stone steps that will take you all the way to Ngong Ping and the Big Buddha, where there is food and places to rest. From there, you can catch a bus back to the Tung Chung MTR station. Or you can splurge and treat yourself to a one-way ticket, going down in the cable car. After such a hike, it is well deserved I reckon.

Option 2: This section goes from Pak Kung Au to Ngong Ping via Tei Tong Tsai (CP3 to CP4 as seen on the map of the MoonTrekker race course). This section (partly in the woods, partly on a concrete path) passes by the Po Lam Zen Monastery. Once you reach the Wisdom path in Ngong Ping (Ngong Ping campsite), keep going until you reach the base of Lantau Peak. From the base, it’s straight up.

Reaching Lantau Peak from there is shorter (a final push of 500m), but also much steeper. Once you reach the top, head back down in the direction of Pak Kung Au.

Anything else?

The actual race will be in a few days. Our objective is to make it to the top of Lantau Peak before sunrise. This means reaching the summit before 6:20am. Will we beat the sun? I really hope so. Hopefully all this training up Lantau Peak has paid off. Will keep you guys posted.

 

 

Rediscovering Lantau Island

28 Sep

Airport and Ngong Ping 360: two places that had become synonymous with Lantau Island. And this is what I thought Lantau was all about, up until only a few months ago when I started training for the MoonTrekker adventure race. I know… It’s a real shame. I had been to Lantau many times since my arrival in HK but only associated the island with the below:

  1. Going to and coming back from the airport;
  2. Visiting Ngong Ping 360 and its Big Buddha, a tourist attraction where I would often bring visiting friends and family members.

I deeply apologize to all the Lantau people out there. I had been an ignorant Hongkonger… But it was all about to change.

Yes, those days in the dark about Lantau are now over as I have been spending a lot of time on the island lately. No complaints. Lantau is a lovely place that offers an array of outdoor activities, especially in the hiking trails department. I have been hiking there a lot over the past months and it is nice to get a different perspective on the island. But little did I know that I would come to enjoy it so much and that it would become a regular playground and serve as a great escape from the city.

A few weeks ago, on a beautiful sunny (and very early) Saturday morning, our team, Team Moonshine, decided to train on Stage 2 of the Lantau trail (Nam Shan to Pak Kung Au), which entailed hiking from CP2 to CP3, as seen on the MoonTrekker race course map. We were not expecting something too difficult. We mostly wanted to get familiar with that 7km section of the route, which was where our team would be able to walk at a faster pace and gain some time before reaching the steepest part of the course. Therefore, it was going to be a nice Saturday morning hike, with great weather (the possibility of getting a subtle tan was definitely an incentive for us) and new areas to discover.

As we started the hike, I expected to witness similar panoramic views to what the Chi Ma Wan country trail had offered us recently. However, I was happily surprised to experience something totally different. While the Chi Ma Wan country trail looped around the peninsula, giving us the option of walking along a breathtaking coastal path, Stage 2 of Lantau trail presented us a distinct perspective of Lantau Island. The trail was higher up so we got to see all the way to Hong Kong Island which was quite something considering the smog that often clouds the city skyline. It was impressive to look at the urban scenery from so far away. The city almost looked like a mirage, as if it didn’t really existed. As I stated in a previous post, while hiking in Hong Kong, it is always intriguing to see the stark contrasts between the rapid urbanization and the natural environment.

On the other hand, when walking through the forest, we felt as if we were in a tropical jungle. With gigantic spiders, snakes and all. I repeat: gigantic spiders and snakes!

Half way through the trail, as we were resting and snapping a few pictures, we looked down and saw the town of Pui O. The sky was blue, but dark clouds were floating over the small urban area. It contrasted quite dramatically with the rest of the blue canvas. It suddenly started raining over Pui O. It was sunny everywhere else, except over the town. It was a rather odd sight. We silently wished that the cloud would follow its course opposite to where we were heading. Unfortunately, it ended up right above our heads, and for a good 20 minutes, we walked under some heavy, torrential rain. Oh well! What can we do…

After this beautiful 7km hike, we debated on whether we would keep hiking or head home. One of our teammate had a previous afternoon engagement so she caught a bus back to Mui Wo. But the rest of us decided to keep on training and headed for another section of the Lantau trail (Pak Kung Au to Ngong Ping via Lantau peak). It was a difficult section, especially under the midday sun, but it turned out to be very rewarding in the end. One who chooses this route will be richly rewarded by the experience, as while the path can be very rocky and steep, the beautiful landscape that the difficult trail passes through is undeniable. This section of the Lantau trail definitely deserves a post of its own. Coming soon on The Kina Chronicles!

Where is it?

From Central Pier 6, you must take the ferry to Mui Wo. As you can see on the schedule, there are two options: slow ferry (1 hour trip) or fast ferry (about 30 minutes trip).

It is possible to walk from Mui Wo to Nam Shan. However that morning, we got a little lazy and ended up catching a bus to the beginning of the trail. The bus station is right in front of the ferry terminal. Just look for a bus going to Pui O. Make sure you get off before reaching the top of the hill heading towards Pui O. You will see the Lantau trail sign on the right hand side of the road.

When you finish Stage 2, you will have three options:

  1. Take the bus towards Mui Wo and catch a ferry back to Hong Kong
  2. Take the bus towards Tung Chung and ride the MTR to Hong Kong
  3. But if you still have some energy left, I strongly suggest you continue the hike and hit Lantau peak.

As stated previously, I will tell you more about Lantau peak in an upcoming post. But until then, here is a little teaser of the view you will get from up there. After that first Lantau peak escapade, our team has been doing that hike at least once a week (yes, that’s what I call motivation!) and the panorama still amazes me every single time.

The good?

Stage 2 of the Lantau trail is not too difficult physically, and it rewards one with breathtaking views. It is actually a hike I will most likely do again after the MoonTrekker event, when I feel like clearing my head in HK’s natural retreat.

Anything else?

At the beginning of the trail, you have the option to head towards Pak Kung Au or hike up to Sunset peak. I have never been to Sunset peak, but this is definitely on my to-do list for the upcoming months. I will keep you posted on that as well.

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