Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Hiking: Maclehose Stage 4

They say that stage 4 is one of the toughest of the Maclehose Trail. I sure hope so, because it was hard hiking. Thank goodness for compression socks!

The hike starts with a strenuous climb up to 540 meters (we started around 80). At the top, I stared at the towering peak of Ma On Shan (702 meters) and thought about the day I might conquer it.

The reward after that big first climb is getting to spend time in the uplands and walking along the ridge. I thought this would be a great place to sit and enjoy a packed lunch while taking in the panoramic views over Sai Kung and Ma On Shan.

The ridge eventually takes a big descent down to Ngong Ping viewing area which is where we found loads of paragliders. This was an excellent spot to take a little break and grab a snack.

You would think that big climb is what makes this stage so challenging. For me, it was the big descent after and the multiple ups and downs after that. Descents are hard on the knees, and REALLY hard on mine. The final descent was the toughest, but we did get some amazing views all the way toward Central.

Stage 4 ends in an awkward place. If you are hoping to find public transport at the finish, you either decide to do this hike backwards with a big walk-in or carry on to stage 5. Our hiking group opted to have a big walk-out at the END...this was about another hour walk down a sloped road through the land of monkeys.

View from the top and the elevation chart. The view makes all that climbing worth it!

In a couple of weeks we will be moving on to the next stage and I'm hoping the hard part is behind us.

Previous Maclehose Trail hikes:

How do you rate difficult hikes? (Length, ascent, descent, terrain)

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Trip to Guilin, China + Weekly Wrap

I went on another China adventure to the land of karst mountains and had so much fun! We hiked, we rafted, we explored, we ate and we laughed.

My membership with the American Women's Association offers me the opportunity to do many things including take trips around Asia. I've been to KaipingHarbin, and now Guilin where the famous karst mountains are located.

The morning that we took the bamboo raft ride was rainy and overcast, but it didn't dampen the fun at all. Our rafts were authentic bamboo with the driver using a bamboo pole to push us down the river (we would later see larger rafts with motorboat engines attached and be grateful that we had a genuine experience).

The views from our bamboo raft were absolutely stunning! The karst mountain peaks loomed all around us and the countryside was so peaceful.

We did have a few exciting moments as the rafts dropped over terraces. The first one was a little scary but then after that it was just fun.

We pushed our hiking trip to the next day and it was worth the wait. The hike began with a moderate climb to Xianggongshan where we had amazing views of the Li River and the karst mountains.

The rest of the trail took us through beautiful countryside including right through mandarin plantations. The employees were very friendly as we passed by and our guide gave us each a mandarin orange.

At the bottom of the mountainside our hike continued along the Lijang River to Xingping old town. 

The shore was lined with cormorant fishing boats. The cormorants are tied to the rafts and sent into the water to retrieve fish. We didn't see actual fishing, but the locals were more than ready to pose for photos, for a small fee. (I found this photo on Trip Advisor)

I signed up for this trip because I wanted to see the karst mountains and because we would hiking and bamboo rating down the Yulong River. I like sightseeing, but I like adventure sightseeing even more. It was exactly what I hoped.

And now I'm catching up on blogging. Here's the rest of my workouts for the week:

Monday - Trip prep - lots of walking!

Tuesday - travel to Guilin

Wednesday - Bamboo rafting and sightseeing

Thursday - 7.3km hike and travel back to Hong Kong 

Friday - REST

Saturday - 3 mile run

Sunday - Walk around the neighborhood

I’m linking up with Holly and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Oh My Quads + Kind of a Weird Week

This week I spent more time with The Stick rolling my quads than anything else. Rolling with the stick gives me more control to hit the trigger spots than using my foam roller. And, Oh. My. Quads! It hurt so good.

Let me try to explain what happened.

On Monday, I went on an amazingly big hike and felt pretty good. I was tired, but not too tired to catch up on my core challenges when I got home.

I even felt good on Tuesday, so I went for a 3 mile run in the morning. I had a small issue with my hip at the very start (like it wanted to pop or something), but then I was fine.

When I woke up Wednesday, my quads were sore and my knees hurt. KNEES ---> both of them were feeling achey. My right knee (my good one, ha!) actually felt the worst. I spent the day with a group of friends exploring the Dafen Art Village and my quads started feeling worse and worse.

I guess that big hike shredded my quads more than I realized and then I ran the next day. It was such a big delay of soreness that it really surprised me.

I sort of lost my motivation to workout after that. On Thursday I did a little upper body strength training at home. I had a busy day running errands on Friday which was my excuse to give my legs a break later when I thought about working out. I honestly don't know what happened Saturday. I just couldn't get into a fitness mood.

I had a brief moment on Sunday when I thought I would go for a run after church, but then the fog descended on Hong Kong.

So, it was kind of a weird week for me and my fitness.

I’m linking up with Holly and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap!

I'm hoping to shake it off today and get in a good workout. Any words of encouragement to help me?

Friday, March 2, 2018

Hiking: Maclehose Trail Stage 3

Embrace the hill!

That should be the mantra heading into this hike because the climbing is no joke.

I'm on a mission to hike all 100 km of the Maclehose Trail in Hong Kong. Unofficially, I started this trail when I hiked stage 2 with my SWIC hiking friends a couple of years ago. Now I'm teaming up with my AWA hiking friends to hopefully finish this beast.

Stage 3 of the Maclehose Trail is rated difficult because of the multiple climbs and rugged trail. You won't find any concrete paths or stairs on this one, but flat rock steps help on the ascents.

The first climb takes you up to Ngau Yee Shek Shan/Ngam Tau Shan at over 400 meters. Although it is quite challenging making your way up, the views of the mountains of Sai Kung and the South China Sea in the distance make rest stops along the way enjoyable (especially if you are there on a clear day).

A rather long and gradual descent takes you to a camping area at Cheung Sheung. This was a large area but the only living creature we saw on this drizzly day was a cow.

The second climb is short and sweet. Here you get the first views of the other side of the mountain toward Three Fathoms Cove and the skyscrapers of Ma On Shan.

Another drop down sets the stage for the final and most grueling climb of the day. The trail is the most rugged and steepest yet as you make your way up to Kai Kung Shan at 399 meters. Sadly after all that climbing we found ourselves in a cloud with no hope for a view.

It was all downhill from there. Literally. The trail gradually and slowly descends to Kei Ling Ha. Slowly because the trail is completely covered with irregular rocks.

At the end of stage 3 there is a very nice picnic area, rest rooms and a vending machine with water. A short walk takes you to the bus stops.

Other hard hikes in Hong Kong:

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

February Miles | Tuesdays on the Run

My February miles got off to a slow start after being down with the flu for about 10 days, but I think I rallied back pretty well.

I'm still logging all of my miles on my trusty Wave Sky (affiliate): 7 runs (I even ran three times in one week like the good old days!) and 17.32 miles total. This is just a little less than I ran last month and I lost a bit on my average distance during my big post-flu comeback ---> it was slow and painful.

When I wasn't running, I was (recovering from the flu, ha!) working on strength training, hiking, doing yoga...all my other favorite things to do. I even played some tennis with mrC!

I took on a couple of challenges this month: FAB AB FEBRUARY has been going all month and focuses on core with sit-ups, push-ups and planks. MIND BODY PILATES is a ten day challenge that focuses on strength and mental wellness. Sometimes I need a good challenge to keep me motivated and both of these are helping me do the core work that I tend to slack on.

I also started using a BCAA prior to and during my workouts. I am definitely leaning towards the positive. I have more energy during my workouts and my recovery time seems shorter. I'll do a proper review a little later.

Overall, despite missing the first 10 days or so, February turned out to be a pretty good month.

PS - here's a challenge for March from Aly in case your looking for one. I'm undecided because of all those burpees. Then again, maybe that's a reason I should do it...

How was your month? What are looking forward to in March?

Today I'm doing the link-up with Patty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run!