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2156Hike for Sat Dec 21st - Hanging Gardens of Fo Tan

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  • glbglb1
    Dec 19, 2013
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      Leader: Greg Blumenthal - 9047-0651
      Meeting Place: Fo Tan KCR (MTR East Rail) Exit B
      Meeting Time: 10:00 AM - Dec 21st
      Difficulty: Strenuous Minus
      Duration: 5-6 Hours
      Ending Place: Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve

      One doesn't normally think of Fo Tan as a hiking spot. But up above the industrial area is one of Hong Kong's hanging valleys, a former agricultural area settled by the Hakka around the end of the 17th century (thanks Lily for interrogating that villager last time, and confirming that she was indeed Hakka). It opens out into quite a big area, mostly terraced, with a half-dozen tiny villages. This valley has been spared the destruction associated with road access, so it is trending towards abandonment, rather than being covered with identical 3-story village houses.

      The route takes us through the industrial area to the valley entrance. Talk about a change of scenery! From a land of reversing heavy goods vehicles, bus parking lots and oversized roads, we're suddenly on a winding concrete path up the valley. The first town along the way still has a few occupied houses, but that's the last we'll see of human occupation. Further up, the concrete runs out, and we switch to a lovely bamboo-tunnel path that links a couple of completely abandoned villages. We take a detour across the stream and into Au Pui Wan, near the top of the valley, which appears to have been abandoned for decades.

      Then down the valley a bit, and across Au Pui Wan's stream to reach one of the ridges coming down from Grassy Hill. The only steep climb of the day is up the ridge, on a pretty difficult (but not all that long) path (this part is about 250 vertical meters, out of a total of around 750 vertical meters for the day). The ridge includes great views of the valley we just went through, plus views over the whole Shatin area, the Kowloon ridge, and weather permitting, bits of Hong Kong Island.

      Then it's along some ridiculously over-engineered roads (no cars; this is part of Maclehose 7) to Grassy Hill, and down to some more pointless roads (again, no cars). This brings us to the top of Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve, which is a great spot, perhaps under-explored by SaturdayHikers. We'll take the blue trail down through Tai Po Kau (thick forest, nice stream), and out to Tai Po Road, where buses are available to Tai Po, Shatin, and Mongkok.

      Hike Photos:
      https://picasaweb.google.com/ saturdayhikers/Preview_2010_ 04_10_fo_tan
      https://picasaweb.google.com/ saturdayhikers/2010_04

      This is a not a good hike for kids or first-timers. The total vertical gain isn't too bad, but it's quite scratchy, steep, and slippery in parts, and the options for turning back are not good.

      We're meeting at 10 AM, upstairs near exit B, which is the end towards Shatin (towards the back of the train, if you are coming from the city). Don't go towards exits C and D near the front of the train.

      Bring water, food, clothes, etc. Once we leave Fo Tan, you can't get anything. I would suggest long pants, and a jacket or sweater.

      No bailouts to speak of on this hike. You pretty much have to do the whole thing, unless your idea of a great day out is a half-hour walk through an industrial area.

      I'm reachable by e-mail or 9047-0651 (now with WhatsApp!). Hope to see you there!