24th August, 1997
Stages 5, 4, 3 of Maclehose Trail
Well after a fantastic weekend away diving at Moalboal on the island of Cebu on the Philippines last weekend, it was time to get back into the serious stuff. And it didn't get much more serious for us than trying to take on stages 5, 4 and 3 in the middle of August. These are three of the hardest stages on the trail. The weather seemed dodgy when I got up around 7:30am, and after Angel's birthday bash at Zona Rosa's I guess that hiking wasn't the first idea leaping to mind. Anyhow, we'd made the commitment to be at Choi Hung by 9am, and be there we were. It rained in the bus on my way to Central and as our original plan was to hike 3, 4 and 5 (in that order) I had visions of slipping and sliding down the last hill on stage 3 just like the hike on 6th July.
As for further rain, well we did not see a drop the whole time during the hike. The weather was mostly overcast, hot and steamy with occasional patches of sunshine to remind you it really was summer. What we were lacking was participants. It seems that the summer has really chased people away from walking, and to some extent I can't blame them - it really was a hot day for that sort of activity.
Seeing as there was just the four of us, we changed plans and opted to do stages 5, 4 and 3 (reverse direction from original plan) and then finish with a dinner at Pepperoni's. The start of stage 5 is only a $50 cab ride from Choi Hung, something we didn't know and were a little surprised at. We normally get a bus from Mong Kok (number 72) but this seems like another reasonably good way to get there. Stage 5 was taken in pretty good time (about 2 hours), all people doing quite well. The monkeys were there but not in huge quantity and the only trouble I had with them was when I stopped for a brief minute and they purposely climbed to the tree immediately over my head and shook the branches so the wet leaves rained on me - at least I hope it was rain....
About 1.5 hours in, we stopped at the store for a quick snack and water top-up, then set off on the rest of stage 5 and on to stage 4. It seems here that the results of Saturday night fever, particularly Angel's birthday bash caught up with a certain hiker, though we won't many any names .... much. Incoherent and at times hardly able to stand, he did admirably to even get to the end of stage 4, where he collapsed unashamedly (just like he did a few times throughout the stage).
After a rather long time on stage 4 (almost 4 hours!) our mystery hiker dropped out with severe fatigue and Sark, Alan and I continued on to do stage 3 in very tiring conditions. We all ran out of water some way before the end. After 8 and a half hours on those damn hills we'd all had enough and retired to a well-earned meal at Pepperoni's. That's probably the hardest walk I've ever done. Not the longest, but the hardest and most tiring given the heat. All up it was 33.5 km's in hot and sticky weather. Heatstroke and sunburn were both factors and at times we simply had to stop and cool down before we could continue. Even an hour after I finished my pulse was still 104. Aye Ya!
Comments at the end of the day included:
(Mystery hiker midway through stage 4): I think my heart is about to stop.
(At the end): NFI - Sort of means "no longer interested."
We came, we saw, and the mountains kicked our arse.
Next weekend I'm going diving, if not diving then sailing and if not sailing, then I'm busy!
No, I don't feel guilty about getting a cab from Choi Hung to Pokfulam!
(At Pepperoni's - after ordering our third glass of iced water): Just bring the jug!
(Still At Pepperoni's): What do you mean the fryer's broken and I can't have calamari?
Next weekend I'm planning a leisurely 50km over the HK trail (or maybe half of Lantau trail - Silvermine bay to Tai O). Be there. Yee ha!