"And all the storms you've been chasing,
About to rain down tonight"
Deadman's Gun by Ashtar Command (from the Red Dead Redemption soundtrack)
New gear in hand I was ready to take on a challenge... and indeed did I find one.
But, let's go back to the start, I recently ordered myself another new piece of technology, a GPS watch with heart rate monitor and pedometer/footpod. What would I need all this crazy gear for you ask? Well, for the past couple of years, I've been mapping every run I go on. That makes sense of the GPS. And while I'm not exactly sure what to do with the HR data, I am interested in the cadence feedback, as I've read some research that says a cadence closer to 90spm appears to be ideal from a biomechanical point of view for both efficiency and speed.
So, loaded up with a truck-load of tech, I set out on my long Sunday run. Once again, starting in Hang Hau and aiming to cover the High Junk Peak trail.
As I set out heavy grey clouds hung overhead, but conditions were dry and very humid
The sun makes occasional appearances as I run the road out to Po Toi O, electing to run the trail in "reverse" this time
As I get closer to Po Toi O, I start to notice both a lot of low cloud and a lot of ash in the air. Being this close to Ching Ming (a Chinese ghost / afterlife related festival not a place!), there's a lot of people burning offerings to deceased relatives
High Junk Peak's Chinese name is the completely unrelated Diu Yiu Yung, which when translated to English means "Fisherman". My friend tells me the mount was named as such, because when viewed from a particular angle it looks like a fisherman, but I can't see the resemblance. The name Diu Yiu Yung is, however, also used for the bird Kingfisher, and thus, despite being unrelated to either the reason for the mount's Chinese name, or the English name in any way, there's a Kingfisher statue on the road about 3/4 of the way to Po Toi O
Cruising along the waterfront road, almost at the trail, the clouds seem to be building and my phone confirms this by telling me that the Hong Kong Observatory (same as BOM in Australia), just issued a thunderstorm warning.
Flags flutter for a festival at Po Toi O
As I start up the first climb, I notice a bushfire over on the next slope over. Due to the high amounts of ash, etc in the air, bushfires are very common over this period. Don't worry tho, this fire won't be burning for very long!
Cool "Bomber" berries as I climb the stairs
As I get up into the high elevations, thick clouds move in.
A bit hard to capture in a still photo, so I made an animated gif from a movie I took:
My route climbs into the clouds and then dips below them a few times, all the "low points" rewarding me with stunning scenery
Clouds and ash looking back the way I've came
As I begin my climb up High Junk Peak, it starts to lightly rain, peppering the dry soil
The view at high junk peak isn't quite as good as I remember it to be
Just as I get off the peak, heavy and very dark clouds move in. Things are about to get damp!
The sporadic heavy drops quickly turn into a full-on thunderstorm downpour. Turning it on like only the tropics know how
A little weary that I'm now at the highest point anywhere on the peninsula, I make haste down the trail
As the thunderous downpour continues the trails very quickly fill with water
Running the river
Seeing "Flash Flooding" signs on dinky little rocky rivers, you can never comprehend how it could happen, but seeing trails that were dry dirt 20mins ago, turn into raging (albeit shallow) torrents gets me a little closer to believing
Again, the still photos don't do justice to the intensity of the rain and speed of the water flowing down the trails:
Yes, running this trail/rivers/torrents was as fun to run as they look, but I was very weary of slipping and tripping, as I'm not sure there would be many other people on the trail!
One of my favourite photos of the run.
In all the excitement of the run, and of reliving it in these photos, I forgot to mention the brand new hardware I was carrying. Yes, that's the footpod/pedometer, semi-submerged in the torrent of water. The watch, HR monitor and footpod all worked flawlessly in conditions that couldn't really get very much more demanding.
When I hit the flatter sections, the trails were no longer rivers, but lakes. Thankfully, my Cascadias are designed with this kind of test in mind, and drain water very quickly. Sure, my shoes and socks weren't going to be dry, but just a few paces out of ankle-deep water like this, and there was no long any sloshing or water trapped in the shoe. The benefits of "quick draining" really can't be fully understood until you're presented with conditions like this
So finishing the trail, I checked my GPS/Phone again, only to notice that the HKO had issued a Yellow Rainstorm Warning. Yup, that sure did feel like an extreme weather event.
As I picked up the pace for the 4km of road running back to Hang Hau, the rain slowed and eventually stopped revealing beautiful clear vistas
Just about the head down the final hill into Hang Hau
This is the route and elevation data from the run, but would be very similar to that when I've ran this route in the past.
As per usual, High Junk Peak is the very sharp peak, and easily spotted on the elevation plot.
I was very happy with a few points from this run. Firstly, I was able to crank up a fairly good speed on the return journey, despite not moving too slow on the trail sections (probably largely because of the cooler temps delivered by the rain); secondly, the new gear handled the tough conditions flawlessly; and lastly, I always love to run in the rain, and being out on the trail in such extreme conditions was real treat. It's the times like this that make all the effort worthwhile.
Hope to see you out in the rain soon!