7th September, 1997
Stages 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 of Maclehose Trail
Well, last weeks prediction was quite accurate, we did go balistic today. Five stages (a total of 42.5 km) in 8 and a half hours, a fairly big effort.
The forecast was for sunny periods with the chance of a shower, so naturally it was pissing down the whole day. We met at Yau Ma Tei MTR at 7:45, and from there decided to take a bus to Tuen Mun. Due to a major accident involving a semi-trailer and at least 3 other cars including a very smashed up taxi (I would imagine loss of life was involved) we sat in a huge traffic jam for more than an hour, and finally kicked off the walk at 9:40am. The end of the Maclehose is right across the street from the Hong Kong Jockey Club's maxi-theatre in Tuen Mun. I actually attended the opening of this complex during my very first visit to HK back in 1992, so it seemed somewhat strange to be back there at the same spot nearly 5 years later. The order of the day was a lot different though, and we took off at a cracking pace on stage 10, a mostly flat walk of around 15 klms.
Sark, having had a week off, was going beserk. There was just no stopping him. Alan and I let him go (what choice did we have) and continued on our merry way a few minutes behind. At some point Alan wasn't feeling so good up the sloping roads of stage 9, and came out with a great one-liner. "I'm not feeling so good ... Hang on, I'm the only normal one here". I guess he meant that any normal person would be a bit tired after 20 klms, and he probably had a point but with this being Sark's last walk before emigrating to Sydney, there was to be no stopping us. Alan opted out at the end of stage 9, and said he wasn't feeling well. I sort of believe him cause he didn't look much good either.
Anyhow, stages 10 and 9 were over in 4 hours, and after a 22 minute stop for a change of clothes, a Mars Bar (hiking's life-blood) and some water from the shop Sark and I set off for stage 8, up and over HK's biggest moutain, Tai Mo Shan. Still raining, the temperature was great and we hammered our way through it in 1:45 - our best time ever. I think it is slightly easier in the reverse direction though. The same can be said of stages 7 and 6, for some reason today there was just nothing slowing us down. Of course there were a few sore muscles and in my case an inflamed knee, but undeterred we completed 8, 7, and 6 in a cracking 4:30. Our best ever time for 6, 7, 8 starting fresh is 4:10, so we were very happy with the results. Besides any later and it would have been dark!
Highlights included finding a pocupine quill on stage 10 (apparently there are a few in HK) and the usual rabble of vermin monkeys at the end of 6. The cows were out training with us again today - we found them mid-way up Grassy Hill, one of the tougher sections. Next weekend will probably involved some kind of send-off for Sark, and a well earned rest from this long walking for me. Maybe we'll organise a small walk for the casual crowd - let's see what the weather does!