February 24 Sharp Peak, Hong Kong

There is a group here at Jeff’s company in Longhua who organize hiking trips on Sunday to different area hikes. They organize a lot of hikes up Wutongshan, which is the tallest mountain in the Shenzhen area. Jeff and I have gone with them to climb Wutongshan twice, once when we did the easier hike up to the smaller peak, and once when we climbed to the big peak at the top of Wutongshan.  But they had sort of fallen into a routine, where that was the only area mountain they would organize a hiking trip to on Sundays.I like to vary my hiking experiences, so we have not gone on many hikes with them recently.

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Our group crowding around the map at the start of the trail as everyone tries to get close enough to take a photo of the map with their smart phones.

However, they have been organizing hikes to different trails in Hong Kong recently. This past Sunday, they organized a hike to go climb Nam She Tsim (Sharp Peak) in Hong Kong. 33 people signed up to go, including Jeff and me. I wanted to see something in Hong Kong besides the city, and we figured going in a bus with a group would make the border crossings and transportation easier. Many other people thought the same thing, and this ended up being the biggest group on a Sunday hiking outing in awhile.

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Ann on Mac Lehose trail. Sharp Peak is that tall, pointed mountain behind me. This photo was taken near the start of our hike.

Although better known for streets brimming with shopping centers and tourist attractions, Hong Kong is home to some of the this region’s most stunning hiking destinations. One such part of Hong Kong that attracts plenty of hikers is the Sai Kung East Country Park. This is where Sharp Peak, also known as Nam She Tsim, is located. It is particularly well known for its well defined sharp peak, which rises to a height of 468 meters (about 400 feet) above sea level. This hill is reasonably hard for hikers and should only be attempted by experienced hikers, in good weather, with correct equipment (hiking shoes, not high heeled boots!)

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Interesting sign at the start of the trail to Sharp Peak

While everyone else was taking photos of the trail map, I noticed this sign. As I had never seen a sign like that on a trail in Asia, I wondered if there actually were cows on the trail, and why anyone would be feeding them.

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Feral cow with her two calves

There were indeed cattle, even (briefly) on the trail in front of us! Jeff and I had lagged behind the main group, because we were taking lots of photos. So we got to see the cows on the trail! Everyone else just got to see the cow patties on the trail and alongside it!

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Cow and calves on the hiking trail!

The trail went downhill at first, until we reached the Chek Keng Hau Reservoir. This is one of the reservoirs that supplies water to Hong Kong.

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Chek Keng Hau Reservoir

Then we started to climb. In order to get to Sharp Peak, you need to climb a smaller hill first. From the top of this hill, we could see the path going up Sharp Peak (the white line in this photo.) But what you cannot see is how steep and rocky that path really is!

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Sharp Peak

Here is a sign warning people about the trail up to Sharp Peak. It actually advises you NOT to take it. I have taken many photos of signs in Asia that warn people not to do something, and yet they do it, or something similar, anyway. We all did that here. Everyone ignored the sign and continued up the trail, although I did stop and take a picture of it!

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Sign advising people not to take the trail up to Sharp Peak

The trail up Sharp Peak was very steep and rocky. This was not a paved path with stairs, like many other trails in this part of China. This was a challenging scramble up a rocky, steep incline, very similar to the sections near the tops of the White Mountain hikes back home. So challenging, in fact, that some people apparently take the easy route, and have a helicopter drop them off at the top!

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Helicopter hovering near the top of Sharp Peak

We all made it to the top of Sharp Peak the hard way, by climbing up!

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Jeff standing next to the triangulation marker on the top of Sharp Peak

The view was indeed spectacular from the top! There was an excellent view of the coastline and surrounding hills.

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Ann at the top of Sharp Peak, with the coastline view behind her

After we left the summit, we continued down the trail towards the coast. This section of the trail reminded me very much of hiking in Point Reyes in California. It had beautiful coastal hills and great views of the ocean.

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Trail going down from Sharp Peak towards the ocean

But it was still very steep and rocky. In fact, I thought that it was much harder going down than going up the hills along this trail!

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People making their way down a part of the trail from Sharp Peak to the ocean

It took us a long time to make our way down to sea level, as we kept having to climb up and down hills. But the view was always magnificent!

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View of the ocean from the trail

Here is my favorite photo from the hike. Jeff is standing on a rock on the top of one of the smaller, coastal hills.

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Jeff on top of a rock on a hill

He still had the energy to do “extra” climbing. I was just trying to stay hydrated! This was another thing that made this hike seem more like the hikes we take back home. This was a hike with no vendors along the trail anywhere to sell you food or drinks. We had to be carrying water and food for the entire day long hike in our backpacks!

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Ann holding up a bottle of water

We finally made it down to a beautiful beach. These beaches that we hiked to were almost empty, because the only way to get to them is by private boat, helicopter, or by hiking.

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Tai Wan Beach

We walked along this beach. It was a nice change to be walking along on flat sand, instead of going up and down rocky hills! But we had to climb over that hill up ahead to get to the next beach, where we took the trail back up through the hills to the road, (yes, up again, but at least it was a paved path!)

So it was a great day trip and quite a hike! We were hiking for more than 8 hours and 15 kilometers of steep up and down. We left Longhua at 8 am, and got back at 8 pm. But it was great to get out of the city all day into such a beautiful area!

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