The Dragon's Back (龍脊) : The Arms of a Jungle Octopus

Trail Map

dragons-back elevation chart
Skyscraper peer out from behind mountains

I didn't know what to expect from The Dragon's Back walk. A hike in such close proximity to such an enormous city (one of the three largest in China) was a new experience for me. Setting off, a bus whisks you swiftly out of the city and immediately begins ascending mountain roads. Hong Kong falls away sharply and is replaced by dense vegetation. It seemed as wild, exotic (and potentially dangerous!) as a jungle to me - a pasty sun cream wearing, backpack-lugging British boy.

I gazed out of the window of the bus, soaking it all in. It was a truly welcome sight after the 36 hours of travel I had endured to get here. The coast is quite something. In Hong Kong, it seems you are never far from water.

One of the many octopus limbs that stretch out into the ocean

By the time the bus pulled up at To Tei Wan, every single passenger was standing. It appeared I wasn't the only one riding the dragon's spine. My first impression on exiting the bus was of the mottled orange boulders that poked through the grasses. If this was the Dragon's Back then these were surely dusty dragon's scales.

The climb is gentle. As you near each peak, the foliage thins, allowing for you to find your bearings and for an unhindered view. The many tendrils of the jungly mountains lie soaking in the sea like the arms of a great octopus, splayed out, relaxing in the sun.

Views out onto the horizon. Ocean cruisers lurk.

Offshore however, floats a huge school of freighters. They are a menacing presence, intruders on the ocean. In the other direction, Hong Kong's many skyscrapers shoot forth, higher even than some mountains. They are an alien presence too. Intruders in what should be paradise. I can't help but feel like Hong Kong city has ruined much of the area. I've never been on a nature hike where human civilisation has had such a dramatic impact on the shape of the landscape.

A protruding peninsula along The Dragon's Back

Despite these feelings, I couldn't help but admire what beauty there was. As I lunched with a couple of locals, it became obvious that this part of the island is a retreat for many.

The final section of the walk descends into Big Wave Bay, a cosy little beach. I sat admiring the waves for a while before nodding off to sleep, finally bested by the jet lag.

Golden rays bounce off a torqouise ocean

        Words & Photography: Scott Norris (@radventuresofficial) // Spring 2016