Trip Report:Thursday 9th of December, Trip into the Mountains from Baan Mae Kampong A Beautiful ‘Eco-Tourism’ Village, Home of Flight of the Gibbons
Report on first section
authored by Joe Sanders
For the Chiang Mai hike club’s first Thursday endeavor, a notably smaller number of participants came than what we’ve been getting on recent Sunday excursions: 13 bodies showed up. Two of them had four feet.
We set off from Chiang Mai’s central train station, heading North East through Doi Saket, where we picked up Jamie’s girlfriend, Aunda, another Thai lady in good hiking condition, to join the Farang men. The drive into Ban Mae Kamong was hilly, slow, and twisty. Even from within the vehicles, we noticed the forest here seemed more lush and “unspoiled” than what one is used to along the better -tramped tracks on Doi Pui, Chiang Mai’s mountain in its western backyard.
The Trail began with a visual splash: Next to a stream of clean looking, fast-flowing water, punctuated with small rapids and a couple of larger waterfalls. The forest canopy around and above it was lush and varied. Visually, I’d rate this hike as “five stars,” one of the prettiest I’ve ever experienced in Thailand (coming from Oregon, I’m used to a pretty “high bar” for environmental beauty!)
But the trail itself was not for the faint of heart or those unsteady on their feet. Roots and rocks abounded. And, yes, it was STEEP! In some areas, once upon some time in the past, stone steps had been cut, but the step-up was frequently – a giant step.
After years of comparative hiking, contrary to a first impression, I’m convinced that Northern Thai mountains are no steeper in incline than mountains we have in the west. The difference is: in more developed countries, popular hikes involving substantial ascents have been constructed with switch-backs, which are obviously longer, but of a manageable incline. Here, and in the more remote areas of New Zealand, the trail just blasts straight up the mountainside. If you’re not going along a road or dirt track used by hill tribe motor bikers, trails with uphill grades can sometimes approach a “hands and feet” effort to pull oneself up.
After much sweat, pauses for catching of breath and longish waits for those experiencing duress, we finally reached a somewhat level, grassy lunch spot.
Our pace had been achingly slow for this short option offered on the overall hike: nearly two hours to labor up 2.5 kilometers, an increase in elevation of 450 meters (about 1,000 Feet.) At the lunch break, either because of physical limitations or other scheduling obligations, four members left the group, declining their original option of slip-slding on the same trail back downhill, instead returning to our vehicles by hired car. This reporter was one of them.
Jamie announced to the rest that two-thirds to three quarters of the hike still lay ahead (7-8 K) and they’d have to “pick up the pace” to be assured of getting off the mountain, before dark, in this reduced daylight time of year.
authored by Jamie
We had arranged for this hike to have two sections. The first section through the waterfall was of suitable length for those who were less fit. We had arranged for a car to pick people up from the ridge on the top if they wanted to just do the first section of this hike. Those who were stronger hikers had the option to walk on. As Joe said 11 hikers did the first section through the water fall with us and then 4 stopped at the top. 7 of us walked on.
We had stopped at the top of the ridge for about 30 minutes and then 7 hikers walked another 6.4 km in 3 and a half hours. After a rather slow start during the early part of the hike, which was nice in that we had time to admire the waterfall, we were keen to have a bit of a work out and also we wanted to be sure to finish the hike well before it got dark!
We walked another 1.8km and stopped for 12 minutes on the top of the mountain at 1799m but didn’t want to stop any longer than that as it was rather chilly up there, a nice novelty in Thailand!
We then came back down through the forest making a long circular hike. We came back along another ridge of the mountain, back down some trails that were also rather steep coming down.
Along the way we saw wild boar foot prints and we also saw a deep circular hole in the ground that apparently housed a humming bird type of bird that likes to prey on bees and other insects. The rather pretty red pom pom type flowers shown in the pictures below where photoed when we were almost back in Baan Mae Kampong.
The whole hike was beautiful. The forest we were walking through was very jungly and pristine seeming, not as disturbed as the forest in the Doi Pui Suthep National Park often seems to be.
Athit and His Cool Back Pack
You may wonder in the pictures below why my dog Athit is wearing a backpack? This cool accessory is a recent purchase. I was really happy with the way the back pack worked out. It was the first time I tried having him carry a pack. He was able to carry water for himself and others and it gave him plenty of exercise without his normal running off into the forest to hunt. He had enough work to do without running off and hunting as well. Have been trying to work out a way to keep him safe from hunting down a snake and this seems to work well. Have heard that dogs often enjoy having a job to do and Ahtit did seem to enjoy the responsibility of carrying his pack. You can see he looks very proud in the pics. He was carrying 2 liters of water which gradually got drank and some doggy snacks for himself.