Our final day of hiking in Hong Kong (although not our final day of visiting, eating, shopping, and so on) was a bit closer to home than the rest. Ever since our first day, we had seen the crags of Lion Rock towering over Kowloon, and figured we had to climb it. The lion head-shaped cliffs looked like they would provide fine views of the city, situated high above the apartment buildings and skyscrapers.
|Climbing up over Hong Kong on Lion Rock|
We arrived at the trailhead mid-morning, after an hour-long walk on a little used mountain road. This was the first time we’d needed to walk to a trailhead, rather than taking a bus directly to it, but the road was small and mostly used by pedestrians anyway, so it wasn’t much different than many of Hong Kong’s hiking trails. Happily, when we arrived at the trail, we found that it was one of the few non-paved trails. We would have a real hike today, after all.
|It doesn’t look so much like a lion from this angle.|
With dreary, grey skies threatening rain all day, we had relatively pleasant temperatures. After our cloudy day at Sai Kung and the off-and-on clouds at Lantau, we had realized that overcast was the way to go in Hong Kong. Our clear days had better views, but also ended with us feeling near death from the heat. Our views from the ridge of Lion Rock weren’t bad, though, since the clouds were just high enough.
|Yvonne on top of the world, or at least Hong Kong.|
From the trailhead, we took the MacLehose Trail along the ridge, which meant we could have connected Lion Rock to our earlier hiking destination of Sai Kung if we’d had a few more days. Yvonne told me that backpacking on these trails isn’t all that common, despite the many campsites, and I can’t say I blame anyone. For day hikes, these trails are nice, but I’m not a big fan of camping so close to cities and all the sounds they create.
|Lion Rock’s head is a heck of a cliff.|
The peak of Lion Rock was off the MacLehose Trail a short distance via a very steep side trail, and was everything we’d hoped. To the south we could see all of Kowloon and Hong Kong island. To the north, the mountains of the New Territories and the mainland seemed rural by comparison, although there were still several high rises and power transmission lines. It’s funny how we get used to different things like this– the least populous district of Hong Kong is home to more people than my entire home state, yet after a few days in the more populated part of the city, I can look at the New Territories or Lantau and say they seem like wilderness.
On our way down from the peak, we stopped at a rest area on the trail that was practically overrun with monkeys. I hadn’t been aware of this before, but the mountains around Hong Kong are home to a large population of macaque apes. The monkeys were almost too comfortable with our presence, some even sitting on the trail while we walked within arm’s reach of them. Yvonne says that despite the government’s best efforts, people still feed the monkeys, habituating them to our food and our presence. I can see why people like to feed them– they’re awfully cute. That’s not a good excuse, though. Wild animals should stay wild. Just look at habituated bears in the Smokey Mountains or Yosemite. They’re nothing but trouble to humans and to themselves.
|Still doesn’t look like a lion from this angle, but it is plenty imposing.|
The second half of the day was quiet and relaxed, with a long descent from the mountain. The next few days were filled with more visits to Yvonne’s family, more gorging on different varieties of Chinese food, more walking around town, and more exhaustion. In total, we spent twelve days in Hong Kong, with several days of travel on either end. It was just the right amount of time for what we were doing. We were both starting to get a little tired of everything by the end. My stomach can handle being stuffed beyond capacity only so many times, even if it’s the best food I can imagine.
That’s all for my trip to Hong Kong. I hope you enjoyed it, and stay tuned for the next chapter of my adventures from the summer.