The Great Outdoors has always called to me. It’s a place, a feeling, a time, a being in itself.
To some, it’s a constant pull, drawing us in. Pushing us to new peaks, down old ravines, and across plains and fields. This weekend hiking on Lantau Island was some of this and more. Time to think and feel the outdoors again was something sorely missed in a city so full of buildings and buses.
In a way, that’s the beauty of Hong Kong. The pier 6 ferry in Central will take you to Mui Wo. A short twenty minutes ferry ride and you’re out of the city. The village of Mui Wo is a simple collection of houses and restaurants on a beautiful beach. Residents cycle around on little cart and footpaths, navigating by little signposts pointing to the major local landmarks. It’s a simple place, with an old silver mine, a beach, a temple, and, of course, a ferry pier. You’ll quickly feel outside Hong Kong, in a good way.
From the pier, there are two routes to the start of the trail. On my way to Sunset peak, I took the road, but there’s a second trail, Old Village trail, that’s more scenic, which I took on my way back. Bring a map to navigate both, as the signage isn’t the easiest to follow and can leave hikers a confused.
The first section of trail to Nam Shan is quite easy. A steady uphill climb that’ll get your blood flowing, plus the excitement of seeing cyclists flying downhill if you take the road. Nam Shan has a picnic area with a restroom and makes a good first rest point. The picnic area funnels into a “tree walk”, that’s also the trail to Sunset Peak. Walking through the trees, shaded by the large branches, makes for a great start of the trail.
The steps continue through the trees, providing hikers with semi-obstructed views of Mui Wo and the Outlying Islands. After about an hour, you’re rewarded by breaking through the tree line, and reaching the grassy mountain tops.
The east side of Lantau wasn’t as rewarding as crossing the ridge to the west side, where the sun and breeze opened up, providing incredible and relaxing views. When I reached the top, there were noticeably more crowds, originating from Tung Chung, a nice shortcut to the peak. Overall, I didn’t mind their presence but did miss the serenity of being alone on the way up.
Sitting on the rock ledge, enjoying the view of the Outlying Islands, Lantau Peak, and Big Buddha, I laughed a little to myself, as I spent nearly two minutes there, then was ready to descend. So often we go to visit a place, hike a trail, or accomplish a feat and when it’s done, we’re moving on to the next thing. Hardly do we sit, relax, and enjoy the accomplishment, as it was the journey and effort we truly relished. I find this especially true for hiking, where you’re accomplishment is an incredible and stunning view. Yet I can’t seem to enjoy it in that moment, only afterwards.
I can only conclude that I’m a journey person. Meant to take the road less travelled, regardless of the effort, and apparently regardless of the destination. It’s always a plus when there are great views, though.
Note: The hike took just over three hours and was semi-strenuous (and I consider myself in good shape). It was obviously worth it, as I think I’ll be back next weekend.