We met at the Arboretum and 40 of us piled into 3 Song Taew while 2 others rode motorcycles to reach the hike start point at the edge of Ban Doi Suthep.

We hiked on a paved trail 1 km and passed by the St Louis Marie De Montfort Retreat area (altitude 1,120m) where we got a noisy reception from half a dozen dogs and where one of them joined us as we entered the forest. After another kilometre or so through forest we reached the remains of the Forresters’ encampment (altitude 1,208m) and joined the main (1004) road where several specimens of trees were seen.

We walked about the 2 kms up the busy road to Ban Phu Phing (altitude 1,385m); this section would have been shady but the sun was hiding behind cloud. At the last viewpoint before the village we found the mist too heavy for it to be worthwhile going down to the viewpoint behind the village.

As we left the crowded village we proceeded a bit further up the road and took a trail on the right hand side that runs uphill alongside the perimeter of the Palace. This followed the line of the new wall or fence being constructed and was a fairly steep climb until we arrived at the corner of the Palace perimeter.

A short hike on a narrow forest track brought us to the Sun Gu pagoda near the summit of Doi Suthep which is listed as having an altitude of 1,601m. Here we rested and had our picnic and felt it would be nice to have some sun to warm us up.

We descended along about 700 metres of the trail we used to go up to the pagoda and then continued our descent behind the Palace where we passed several military emplacements in sometimes difficult terrain alongside the construction work for the new perimeter wall/fence. After leaving the Palace perimeter we descended on a fairly steep trail through forest and arrived at a wider well rutted trail that brought us to a “Y” junction.

Here we took the left hand way and after a short hike arrived at a couple of buildings one of which was occupied by a man and his dog. The dog was happy to get our company but this upset the man who chased and chastised the poor dog. From this clearing we followed a narrow train downhill until we rejoined the track we might have taken at the fore-mentioned “Y” junction. A 1 km hike down a wide track brought us to the main (1004) road which we crossed and 100 metres down on the other side entered a road-side parking area. This is the start of a newly created Nature Trail along which there are well-signed places of interest including a waterfall and cave. Perhaps the most interesting of all was our luck in finding several specimens of Sapria Himalayana Griffith – a very rare plant. More information and a picture can be found at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapria_himalayana

After this find the Nature Trail took us to a stream with fast flowing water sufficient to wet many shoes and boots. On the other side we ascended fairly steeply and reached the CM Gardens from where we exited onto the main (1004) for the downward last 700 metres of the hike. Near the Temple we boarded Song Taew for the journey back to the Arboretum.

This was probably my best ever hike – thank you to all who helped and participated but with special appreciation to Janet, Maggie and John for their support during the hike and to Chan for accompanying me when exploring earlier two sections of the hike.