Blisters and adventures
Last weekend was the second round of King of The Hills. Here are the hills in question:
This time last year people were freaking out because Hong Kong was experiencing frost for possibly the first time. There were pictures in the news of people tobogganing, which raises questions; where do you buy a toboggan in Hong Kong? Where in your tiny Hong Kong apartment do plan on storing that toboggan until the next time it gets cold? It wasn’t even snow, just frost and people were trying to toboggan on it. Maybe I imagined the whole thing…
I digress. This year, unfortunately for Hong Kong’s toboggan owners, winter forgot to arrive. So this King of The Hills race took place on an unseasonably hot day.
While billed as a mountain marathon, the race was forced to take a shortcut as one of the trails that it would otherwise have followed was closed while maintenance is carried out on the cable car that runs above it.
My nice fast trail racing shoes had developed a hole in the upper and the sole was starting to fall apart. Luckily, the shoes held out until the end of the race, but left me with the biggest and ugliest blister I’ve ever had. I made it to the finish in a satisfying tenth place.
I cannot afford to continue destroying running shoes at my current rate, so will be switching to another brand.
Anyway, after taking Monday and Tuesday to recover I set off on a challenge I’d been planning for myself for a couple of weeks.
I wanted to visit every peak taller than 400 metres on Hong Kong Island in a single run. For the sake of neatness the run would start at Chai Wan, the easternmost terminal station on the island MTR (subway) line and end at Kennedy Town, the westernmost station.
Here are the peaks in question.
Peaks 1,2 & 3. Mount Parker; there are three peaks on Mt. Parker, two of which are accessible via a paved road and are occupied by radio stations. However, I chose an as-the-crow-flies route straight up through the forest.
4. Mount Butler; an easy to follow trail, which was a relief after my rugged route over Mount Parker.
5. Siu Ma Shan; I believe the name translates as Little Horse Hill, not to be confused with Ma On Shan (Horse Saddle Mountain). Don’t rely on my translations being spot-on here.
6. Jardine’s Lookout.
7,8 & 9. Violet Hill; this is where things got tricky. Like Mt. Parker, the top of violet hill is split into three distinct peaks, two of which are easy to access along well maintained trails. The trail leading to the third peak, while appearing on maps, is very hard to find and led to me getting stuck in endless, practically impenetrable thicket.
10. Mount Nicholson; After my struggles on Violet Hill I was nervous approaching this hill as the route I had planned seems to be very rarely used. It required a bit of scrambling, verging on bouldering, but turned out to be a nice climb.
11. Mount Cameron; again, a very rarely used trail by the looks of things, but some great views over the city.
12. Mount Gough; the next part of my run led through the winding roads that serve the hilltop mansions overlooking the city. There is some very expensive looking real estate sitting on the actual summit of Mount Gough so my route only came within a few meters of the top.
13. Mount Kellett; like Mount Gough, this hill is covered with mansions. With some ferocious guard dogs.
14. Victoria Peak; dodging tourists around the Peak Galleria and the Peak Tram, I headed for the penultimate summit. The very top is closed to the public and occupied by a radio antenna.
15. High West; I saved one of my favourites for last. The route down from High West is marked on Google Maps as ‘treacherous trail’, but was no problem compared to some of the other places I’d passed through that afternoon.
After a few accidental detours and and diversions, the whole route took hours longer than anticipated. Maybe one day I’ll want to go back and improve on this run. But not for a while yet.