Celebrating spring with two barefoot hikes

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Since I came back from Canada, I slowly resumed my barefoot running. This week, I also resumed barefoot hiking. Ok, not in very challenging conditions, but I wanted to celebrate spring with two barefoot hikes. Right now; temperatures are very moderate (a high of 19° C), so a perfect time to undertake hiking. My first goal was to scale Tung Yeung Shan.

Tung Yeung Shan

Tung Yeung Shan is much less well known than its more illustrious neighbor, Kowloon peak, but it deserves interest all the same. Mainly known by Hongkongers, it offers a very lovely view on the Marina Cove of Sai Kung.

Getting there involves, for the first part, to pass in front of the entrance of the path to Suicide cliff and to choose to disregard it. You then continue on Fei Ngo Shan road, straight, until the road arrives to an embranchment towards a camping ground (just before a hairpin curve taking you to the Kowloon Peak observation point). That is where you turn right. You walk down, a few hundreds of meters and you can start to climb Tung Yeung Shan very easily, as the first half of the trail is made of stairs. The second part is rocky and involves some scrambling, but nothing really serious.

Barefooting a mountain

It goes without saying that I was barefoot from the start of my hike and of course, barefoot still on Tung Yeung Shan. Actually, when climbing, bare feet offer an excellent adherence to the nooks of the terrain. In my previous visit to this area, I had stopped after the first volley of stairs.

When going down, bare feet did not have issues. The terrain was also covered with leaves, hence making it a bit slippery. Nevertheless, with bare feet, adhesion was optimal (I know I would have been losing traction with shoes). I also encountered fellows from a Hong Kong Hiking Meetup. Comments were all appreciative (and several commented that it made feet strong!).

Tung Yeung Shan
Going down on Tung Yeung shan

Of course, I don’t only climb mountains for the sport now. I also drag around my drone, but it took some testing before I made it fly, as there was quite some strong winds up there in altitude.

Drone shots

I did say that Tung Yeung Shan has a marvelous viewpoint on Sai Kung. Well, here were three youngsters who were trying their best to get a selfie with the backdrop of Sai Kung. I did offer them their picture, of course, as it probably beated hands down their selfie stick pic.

Tung Yeung Shan
Three young Hongkongese take a selfie on the background of Sai Kung

I followed their example, and here is my dronie with Sai Kung in the background.

Dronie on Tung Yeung Shan
A dronie with Sai Kung in the background

Tung Yeung Shan offers a lovely viewpoint for a number of interesting landmarks, such as the Metereological observatory of Tate’s Cairn.

Tate's cairn
The meteorological observatory on Tate’s Cairn

Of course, the day after, I would go closer.

The return was unremarkable, except that instead of going the full circle around Kowloon Peak, I elected to go back down the same way I came.

After this hike, the feet were quite a bit tender (mainly because of the asphalt), but with some care, they were ready for the next adventure. In a way, the feet feel “oversollicited” nervously with a barefoot hike (and that’s maybe where it is different from barefoot running, as the interaction with the ground is quite different).

When leaving, I hqd the occasion of shooting an interesting encounter between a paraglider and a plane (obviously at very different altitudes).

Encounter in altitude
A plane encounters a paraglider near Tung Yeung Shan


Hike on Jat’s Incline

The following day, my feet having recovered, I decided to go on Jat’s incline (as my condo faces that road) and take a closer look to the Meteorological observatory. I decided to leave on sunset, and on the whole I did good time in climbing the three kilometers of Jat’s incline, until the viewing point.

It must be said that the roads leading to Jat’s incline are covered in stones mixed in the asphalt. They literally kill your feet when you are a beginner (about the same material was present in Shoushan national park). I am getting accustomed to this material, and so, on the return, I even jogged back down Jat’s Incline.

Jat's incline
Stones in the cement, on Jat’s incline.


My drone took off on a higher portion of the road, simply to give it as close a view of the observatory as possible. In the background, you can see the city of  Shatin, in the New Territories.

The meteorological observatory of Tate's Cairn in Sunset
The meteorological observatory of Tate’s Cairn in Sunset

I then went back down to the observation point, to shoot another set of pics. This viewpoint is a pretty famous spot for awaiting the sunset.

Viewpoint on Jat's incline
Many people drive to the viewpoint, just to admire the sunset.

This place also provided a safe operation area from which to launch the drone. And then, of course, the most fun part was probably taking another “dronie”.

Dronie on Jat's incline
A dronie on the viewpoint of Jat’s Incline

Later, I went down, on Shatin’s pass road, but I realized that the whole mountains, from Kowloon Peak to Shatin’s pass, were literally covered in electrical poles.

Shatin's pass road
In the distance, you can see how many electrical poles there are on the side of the mountain.

Of course, flying a drone over electric poles should never be done for two reasons. Firstly, in case of contact with the electric wires, you may cause a major incident knocking out power over a vast area. Secondly, the high-voltage electricity generates a magnetic field which may affect your gps and the internal compass of the drone, hence causing a loss of control (and a loss of the drone, obviously).

Running barefoot, a healthy activity

On the return, I did run down the mountain. Despite the ground being rough (as shown above), and the occasional stone in the darkness, it was a lovely experience. It goes also to show that barefoot running really does strengthen your feet on the long run. My feet don’t hurt and they feel rejuvenated the day after. For those who wonder if I have heavy calluses by now, the answer is negative. The skin is soft, and if my feet are always as sensitive (they will always be), but the mechanism of adaptation have changed as my feet automatically shift weight if they land on something painful. Sometimes a tiny pebble nestles in my feet, but I just need to brush it off.

A test with a positive conclusion

The goal in doing a barefoot hike two days consecutively was to test my adaptation and my resilience, and so far the result is positive. After having started to run barefoot a few months ago, the results have been quite positive on my overall form and strength. When hiking, not having rigid soles under your feet is an incredible advantage. When running, you cqn feel truly light running barefoot. Of course, in part, these were not really challenging hikes, as they mainly took place on asphalt, but it is still quite a climb upwards and a really fun moment.


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