We had a perfect day for this rather challenging hike. Two visitors to the group brought the number to 10. Shortly after 8am we were on our way, climbing up alongside Huay Kaew waterfall to Wang Bua Ban. We had a clear view as we looked back towards the Convention Center and the distant mountains. After crossing the road we continued up at a steady pace, almost nonstop, on a wet and at times slippery trail. For a short while a light rain cooled us down. When we reached the first stream crossing we realized the only way of getting to the other side with dry feet was to take off our shoes. Along the way we saw many mushrooms, and even spotted a pretty butterfly and a crab. At the spot where we needed to take a small trail off to the left, we failed to find the correct trail, and so had a rather longer, steeper climb on the adjacent ridge, where we could look across and see the “hidden waterfall” before descending into the valley and the lychee orchard. Here we saw strawberries being planted and had a lovely long view across a garden and orchard area. What happened afterwards was unfortunate when one of the hikers decided to remove his shoes to cross a stream, while the rest of us crossed on a cement dike. He dropped the shoes in the fast moving stream and they were quickly carried away. Another hiker chased after them, but was only able to rescue one. Continuing with a left, barefoot was not a happy option and, a short distance on, we came to a house in the orchard and found one right, discarded rubber shoe shoe outside. This saved the day. With these delays, it was noon when when we reached our lunch stop at the 5 ways junction, where we spent a bare 20 minutes. As we continued on, we encountered many trees down over the trail, necessitating detours or contortions under or over them, and long sections of trail which the stream had made its preferred course. All our precautions to have dry feet were in vain. This valiant group of hikers kept up a steady pace and arrived at the temple by 2:30, finding no posted signs that the trail was forbidden nor tin shacks blocking the trail exit. And so we were back at the arboretum by 3pm. The distance clocked on the GPS was 13 km.
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