Dec 11, 2008|
HK Magazine: When and where was your first hike?
David Pickerell: I can’t remember my first hike; I suspect it was probably on my father’s back. But when I was young our family often went out for family hikes, with me and my sister racing ahead of my parents. I remember when I was about 8 I planned to have a hiking birthday party. This seemed like a great idea until I found that most of my friends had no interest.
HK: Many people overlook Hong Kong’s hiking trails, and many don’t know much about out local history either. What are your thoughts?
DP: When I spoke to people, I discovered that many of them did not realize how many great trails there are in Hong Kong. And even those who have hiked the same paths that I have did not realize their historical significance. Hong Kong has had a surprisingly rich history in a fairly short period of time. But for some reason Hong Kong schools do not teach much about local history. How many people walking down Hollywood Road realize that the small park on the north side is the site where a small British naval force first landed and planted the Union Jack on Hong Kong?
HK: If not for the historical significance of the local trails, would you still be interested in hiking?
DP: Absoutely. In fact, I’ve done quite a bit of hiking outside of Hong Kong, including climbing Mt. Kinabalu, Mt. Fuji and Yushan, the tallest mountains in Malaysia, Japan and Taiwan respectively.
HK: As a nature lover, do you still hang out in malls?
DP: Actually, I love living in such a busy, bustling city. My friends and I spend much time in places like Causeway Bay, but it is still nice to occasionally get out to the quieter and more remote corners of Hong Kong to see the beaches, villages, valleys and other sites which too few people in Hong Kong realize are there.
HK: What is the most surprising thing you learned from writing this book?
DP: That the tallest peak on Lamma Island, Mt. Stenhouse, has been misnamed for over a century. One of my hikes passes this small mountain, and I tried to learn where the name came from. I hunted and hunted and could find no reference to anyone significant named Stenhouse in Hong Kong or British history. Then, fortuitously, I discovered that a Sir Humphrey Le Fleming Senhouse was the senior naval officer in the China seas during the attack on Canton in 1841. It seems that Lamma’s tallest peak has suffered from a typographical error for over 100 years.