Happy New Year: ending 2017 with a barefoot hike on Dragon’s Back!

Ending the year with a barefoot hike on Dragon’s Back

Originally, before starting on my barefoot hike on suicide cliff, I had planned on starting barefoot hiking by a first barefoot hike on Dragon’s Back. The reason being that the Dragon’s back is fairly easy and straightforward and has none of the habitual dangers associated with hiking in a mountain. Things turned differently, and I started the harder exercise before the easiest. The Dragon’s back is one of the most populated hikes in Hong Kong. So, to celebrate the year end, I decided to go on the Dragon’s Back in the evening to enjoy the last sunset of the year and the absence of people.  I even spotted a guy with Vibrams walking on this trail!

An ideal terrain for learning barefoot hiking

While not cemented, the Dragon’s Back is one of the easiest trail available in Hong Kong. In fact, most of the terrain is sandy with a few rocky passages. Given the absence of gravel, it provides a lovely terrain for learning to hike barefoot if you are not yet familiar with the exercise.

Initial path of the Dragon's back trail
The initial two to three kilometers of the Dragon’s back are stony but very walkable.

Although the terrain is stony and filled with roots, as long as you are paying attention to where you place your feet, this is walkable at a brisk hiking speed and is even a pleasurable terrain to walk upon. In terms of feeling, this does not compare even remotely with the painfulness of some parts of the Shoushan national park hike.

There is however one delicate passage, which is a rocky embankment which might be complicated with shoes and more without because of its jaded nature. However, I managed to cross it without problems.

Jaded rock embankment
A jaded rock embankment a bit difficult to cross

The Dragon’s back ridge

Before getting to the Dragon’s back ridge, there is a rocky climb, which is pretty slippery with shoes and very easy  to climb barefooted. It is where you start recognizing the sandy nature of the trail.

Rocky climb to Dragon's Back ridge
Rocky climb to the Dragon’s Back ridge

I managed to climb the ridge with no issues and even took a video for you to see how easy it is.

Climb on Dragon’s Back ridge

The view at the top

The view from the top of the Dragon’s Back ridge is truly marvelous. Even more so, when you fly a drone.

Drone view of the Dragon's back ridge
Drone view of the Dragon’s back ridge

Of course, I did fly my drone around to take some shots of the environment. This gives you an idea of the marvelous views on this very easy hike (even five-year old kids can complete it).

Drone's view from Dragon's back
Drone’s view from Dragon’s Back

Finally, I took a “dronie”, that is a drone selfie.

Dronie on Dragon's Back trail
A “dronie” shot on the Dragon’s back trail…

At that point, I was still very much near the head of the ridge’s trail, and it was getting dark very quickly.

Fortunately, as you always should, I had taken my headlamp with me, allowing me to see the trail at night. In fact, the Dragon’s back trail, while totally easy, can become dangerous. If you don’t see where you are setting your feet, especially when you are hiking barefoot, you might slip and hurt yourself. So if you are hiking in the late afternoon, always pack a torch or a headlamp.

The end of the trail

The Dragon’s Back trail typically ends at its highest point, marked by a placard. It is where I chose to take my last picture of the trail: illuminating my feet with the green light of the lamp while using the background light of the Big Waves beach. Sorry for the poor quality, but it was pitch dark by then.

Barefoot hike on Dragon's Back
Last picture of the Barefoot hike on Dragon’s Back

I also used my camera on long exposure, but without tripod (hence had to leave the diaphragm wide open). The result is still lovely, as it captures the blue hour perfectly from the top of the Dragon’s Back trail.

Dragon's Back at night
A view from the Dragon’s Back at night.

After that, the remainder of the trail was pretty straightforward. I just had to get back down to To Kwa Wan, which is the end of the trail near Shek O village. Nevertheless, of course, a headlamp was a requirement as the moon did not shine over the trail.

How to get there?

Getting there is pretty easy. You take the MTR to the station Shau Kei Wan (or Chai Wan, but it involves climbing through the Sai Wan cemetery). At Shau Kei Wan, you take the bus number 9 direction Shek O beach. You must alight at Tai Tam gap correctional institution and there starts the hike. Upon arriving to the end of the trail you will be at the To Tei Wan bus stop. From there you can catch the number 9 direction either Shek O (to enjoy the beach) or direction Shau Kei Wan. On week-ends, in general, the bus is already full at Shek O, and gets even fuller at To Tei Wan, so a better option might be to take the number 9 to Shek O and grab a minibus to Shau Kei Wan.

 

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