Stewart Goes Walkies is very grateful to have received this article and photos from a very old friend, Allen Lai. Allen was my climbing partner and mentor and saw me through many of my more successful climbing ventures. He was also present at some of my least successful as well.
Inspired by my efforts to hike a minimum of 5 km a day, Allen decided to make a similar effort.
It’s always very inspiring to read my old climbing buddy Stewart’s blog about his various hikes in Hong Kong. His target of 5 km a day is one thing I decided I would like to add to my boring daily life under COVID 19.
Living in Toronto, let me share my last three days experience in trying to hike 5 km.
I woke up early, it was a beautiful sunny day so I drove to the park. Remember, in Toronto, we don’t usually walk, we drive everywhere. Public transport is few and far between. The temperature gauge registered -17 deg C outside, and that was without the windchill. I wound down the window, took a deep breath, started the car and went home.
I can’t help thinking, how lucky Stewart is to be living in Hong Kong with beautiful weather all year round. (Apart from the occasional typhoon, and monsoon rain).
Another beautiful day, only -2C, and perhaps -5 with the windchill. I drove to the nearby golf course and managed to do a 5 km walk. It’s a public course, they close in winter, but allow people to hike inside.
There was not a single soul, no waterhole to quench my thirst, no bird song, no one to say hi, exchange greetings, or even just to ask what the time is? The place is flat, as with most golf courses.
Remember, it’s Ontario, if I want to see anything resembling a mountain, I have to drive 6 hours to Lake Placid in the US. I can’t help thinking, how lucky you are Stewart, you have all the mountains at your doorstep. Always a change of scenery.
Today I woke up to a blizzard. I spent two hours watching people trying to get out of the underground parking lot and failing because of the deep snow. Back to the bed, I went.
At around 3 pm, the weather cleared up a bit. Driving to the park I found that I couldn’t get in. The snowbank created by the snowploughs was waist-deep.
I couldn’t park on the sidewalk as there was too much snow. I finally drove to my friend’s home nearby. Parked the car there and started my walk. The snow was knee-deep, snowshoes and walking poles were a must. Since no one else was walking, I had to break the trail. That meant, I have to bring my feet knee-high to make every single step, while at the same time, bracing myself against the icy cold north wind.
I was wearing several layers of clothing, and after about a kilometre, I was sweating like a pig, but the icy strong wind stopped me from removing any layer. Anyway, I can’t even stop in the blizzard.
On the return trip, I thought I would benefit from the track I made earlier. Wrong! The wind had filled it up flat and I had to do it all over again. As for the scenery, everything was white, the trees are white, the pond is white, the river is white, and so was the air. I can’t help thinking, how lucky you are Stewart, hiking 5 km a day, all you need is to put on your shorts and t-shirt, and jump on a bus.
Comments by Stewart
First of all, let me say I will never complain about hiking in the rain again. We are so fortunate in Hong Kong that we can get out and hike with as little as a lightweight jacket. And, while I am so pleased that I have inspired Allen to get out and start hiking, I am amazed at his dedication at doing so in such conditions.
I am very grateful to Allen for taking the time and trouble to send me this article and, as mentioned, quite honestly, I am amazed at his tenacity. Furthermore, as I inspired him, I hope he inspires others to get out and make the effort, regardless of the conditions. He has certainly re-inspired me.
Allen, I think it’s great that you are even trying to get out and walk in such conditions. Stay strong old friend!
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