120226 BanDoiSuthep_Bhuping Palace_DoiSuthep_circular
15 of us showed up at the Arboretum including Stephen visiting from Ireland and who had done some hiking in Hong Kong. The rest of us were regular CM hikers and included Cheryl and Marc for whom it was their last Sunday hike of this season as they leave for Europe on Wednesday. We much appreciate their help in leading hikes this season. Fourteen of us were carried by Song Taew while another followed on his scooter to the parking area of Ban Doi Suthep.
We started hiking at 08:30 and reached the Foresters’ camp at 09:22 after which we walked up the 1004 road and arrived at Ban BhuPing soon after 10:00 hours. Traffic on the road was somewhat less than earlier in the year and the area near the public entrance to the Palace Gardens was not too congested. After leaving the village we left the main road and took a track running uphill alongside the newly made Palace Gardens Fence; this was quite steep and we rose 65 metres over a distance of 300 metres. We were glad to join the single file forest track for the half kilometre up to the summit fo Doi Suthep. Near the ruins of the ancient Sun Gu stupa we found a large Hmong family (from Ban Doi Pui) preparing for a Sunday picnic complete with cooking utensils, food including a pig’s head as well as a fire for cooking. They must have chosen the wood carefully because there was no smoke in the air. We had a rest and our picnic during the forty minutes we were at the top.
The trail behind the Palace was steep, man-made by tracked vehicles and very dusty. In 16 minutes we descended 150 metres over a distance of 600 metres. We emerged from the Palace area through forest and turned right onto a wide service track that took us up to a three way junction. Here we took the left hand track until we reached a group of disused cabins and houses, one of which we have found occupied in the past. From here that trail continues as a fairly steep single file track that was covered with a thick layer of leaves making for slippery hiking. We re-joined the wide track at about 12:30 and hiked down just over a kilometre to the 1004 main road. We crossed the road and a little way down on the other side entered a small vehicle park which is the start of a Nature trail.
The Nature Trail has several varied features, including a waterfall, but none so memorable on this occasion as the concrete steps and handrails that facilitated our descent to and through the trail. It was near the end of this Trail on 11th December 2011 that we found the rare Sopria Himalayana Griffith. The Trail ends with a small wooden bridge spanning a stream and from there we climbed up a fairly steep incline upto the gardens and so onto the 1004 main road and a short walk to the Temple area for the Song Taews. We finished the hike at about 13:30 hours with a recorded distance of 11.1 kms. Six of us opted for coffee at Jade Factory and relaxing conversation. Two of the group went missing in the Nature Trail and we are confident they will have emerged safely as one is an experienced hike leader.
Throughout this high level hike we were untroubled by the pollution being suffered in the city.
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