Somehow my sister talked me in to making an attempt at Ha Ling Peak for my first hike of the season (and only my third hike in those 6 years that I mentioned previously). I knew that it was likely beyond my current capabilities, but I agreed to go with the understanding that I might not make it to the top.
We started the day off pretty excited. It was nice to be out of the city and, although the weather was pretty dreary, it looked like it was going to clear up.
If you've never hiked Ha Ling Peak before let me tell you that this is not a hike for the out of shape! You gain 700 m of elevation in about 5.8 km. From the very get go the trail goes up.
I wish you could tell how steep the trail is here.
It was a very difficult hike for me (my sister had no troubles but she's been hiking since early in the year and is in a lot better shape than me). In addition to a lot of up, most of the trail picks through tree routes and rock so I found I was always searching for stable footing. (I've had a lot of tendinitis issues in my feet the past 2-3 years, so I may have been a little nervous about not re-injuring my feet.) The first 2/3 of the hike is in the trees, but every once in awhile they opened up to some gorgeous views.
The fit people say that this hike can be completed (up and down) in about 3 hours. I think it took us about 4 to get up to the saddle (the ridge between Miners Peak and Ha Ling peak). The first part of the trail once you leave the tree line was actually not too bad. It was still steep, but the trails through the scree were quite easy to walk.
I hadn't told my sister that my personal goal was to make it to the saddle so I was feeling good about accomplishing that, but was pretty apprehensive about going any further. We paused on the ridge for a bit to take some photos. Luckily I had read the warnings about how windy and cold it could be up there and those warnings were right!! The wind was strong and it was cold, we were wishing we had brought gloves (luckily we both brought sweaters/jackets with hoods). The views from the ridge were pretty spectacular.
Miners Peak (on the right)
Miners Peak and the Three Miners
Rain in the distance
Luckily the rain seemed to travel around us all day. We had a few light sprinkles and heard some people say they saw some snow in the air, but all in all the weather stayed decent (except that cold).
Next up was the ascent to Ha Ling Peak. I tried, I honestly did, but my legs were done and I just knew that if I pushed myself to the top I would probably not be safe coming back down... so I called it. My sister made the peak and I'm so glad that she went ahead without me. The peak was her goal and I was happy to be there to support her in reaching it.
I sat part way up the peak and had a little talk with the mountain. I knew that I was not ready for this climb, but I pushed past many mental demons to get to where I was and I made peace with not reaching the top.
My final photo
I didn't think I would ever see the day that I would prefer the climb over the descent, but today was that day... coming down was HARD! My knees were not bad, they hurt a little part way down but seemed to adjust. My feet were sore and my quads were so fatigued I felt like my legs were going to give out at every step. Once we got below the rocky terrain I went back to using my sister's trekking poles and they definitely helped (I will be putting a set of those on my "gear to buy" list).
Now that the pain in my legs is starting to subside and I've had a couple of days to reflect, I am still very proud of what I achieved that day. I will continue hiking this summer and keep getting stronger and, one day, I will go back to Ha Ling Peak and make it to the top. I have no doubt about that.