10th August, 1997
Stages 6, 7, 8 of Maclehose Trail
Today was one of the best days for hiking in recent weeks. The cooler weather brought on by the overcast conditions made for excellent walking weather and we almost made it without getting rained on. After waiting the customary 15 minutes for a couple of expected arrivals, we departed Mong Kok MTR and picked up the #72 KMB bus to the start of stage 6. A couple of monkeys were there to greet us, and after a quick "before" photo we headed off up the road, beginning our walking at a respectable 8:45am.
A short ways into the walk we came across a large troop of monkeys, the most I've seen at once in HK. I reckon there would have to have been more than 100, and a quick rub of my hiking stick up the back of Alan's leg found him a little jumpy as we passed through these critters at quite close quarters. Alan was soon out in front and racing away, and we let him go for it. I am sure he was walking quicker today because there was no sun to power his solar radio!
Stage 6 was all over in 45 minutes, and with still no sign of Alan we (correctly) assumed he had forged on ahead. We regrouped and had a quick snack before setting out for Needle Hill. This is where I struggled the most for the day as the push was on by Sark and I to catch the speed-demon Alan. We caught sight of him during a brief respite from the clouds, and picked up our pace a little more. Suffering from the Samson effect, (having all my hair cut off during the week and losing my strength) I almost threw up from exhaustion from racing up those last few stairs of Needle Hill. The three of us arrived within three steps of one another, but I was definitely not in good shape. After a few minutes recovery, and with Angelyn and Mimi sighted just about to begin the last steep stretch up Needle Hill we headed off. Alan and Sark took the lead, and I followed. Within two steps I found a slippery one and in true diving fashion, did a little "bottom time". Slowing down helped, and it wasn't until the bottom of Grassy Hill that the three of us rejoined. Sark looked like he'd seen a little action himself with a couple of impressive grazes on the arms.
Starting stage 8, Sark and I led the way and pushed on to be at the top of Tai Mo Shan by 12:35. About a half hour prior to this we had received a page from the girls, and having no mobile phone we could not call them back. We decided they had either got lost and were ringing to ask us where to go or they might have pulled out. I, of little faith, was wrong, and they had in fact missed the turnoff to Grassy Hill. They did find their way to the bottom of Grassy Hill by walking around it though, and of course then thought they had to go up it. Eventually they worked this all out as the distance markers where decreasing rather than increasing and were soon back on track. We jogged down the road most of the way to the end of stage 8, arriving at the car park at 1:05, all up around 4:20. Alan was with us in 10 minutes, a big effort, and Angelyn and Mimi came in a little later at just over 6 hours after their detour. Given that they walked quite a bit further, this was a very impressive effort.
Next weekend I'm off to Cebu for a weekend away, so hope to see you the one after!