17 of us met at the Arboretum and went by scooter, car and song taew up up to the Suthep/Pui Park HQ from where we began our hike in the cool of the morning. Chiang Mai city was shrouded in the grey wrapping of its pollution garment and therefore invisible from the view points en route. I blame the early start on my error in leading the group along a forbidden pathway until I woke up realising that the surroundings were unfamiliar. Janet guided us back to the correct trail and we were soon plodding up the steep paved hill to the communications tower and its pack of barking dogs that we passed on our right. The trail took us uphill to the junction with the more major trail coming in on our left from near the Tham Rusee Nature Trail parking place.
From hereon the trail is wider and clear of debris because it is used by vehicles – there was one motor bike as we left this trail just before the pumping station.
There is a short very steep climb up alongside a fairly new water pipe and our ascent was aided somewhat by the remains of steps cut primitively in the earth and now well worn. At the top we emerged from the forest and could see the Palace boundary fence finished about a year ago and already the victim of fallen trees. We found the trail up alongside the fence to be dry, firm and free of obstructions.
However, I regard it as the most challenging part of this hike. From the NW corner of the Palace fence we followed the short narrow forest trail up to the summit of Doi Suthep and had our picnic lunch and relaxation on the remains of the Sun Gu temple.
There was a cool refreshing breeze and we were reluctant to leave the fresh clean air.
All good things come to an end and we had to leave after an extended break. We came down using the same narrow forest pathway and met up once more with the NW corner of the Palace boundary fence. Most of this descent was easy and over a well defined track
but soon we reached buildings that forced us near to the fence where the old pathway has been eroded. At a lower level walking alongside the Palace fence was easy and without barbed wire that we have seen on earlier hikes.
We passed through Phuphing Village where one of our number chose to remain and visit the Palace Gardens then closed as it was lunch time and I remember about 12:30. Just after the Royal Entrance Gate we hopped over the roadside Armco barrier on the right hand side and slid down (well, I did) the bank to meet up with the forest trail that we followed until the Foresters’ encampment. We had not encountered any mountain bikers on the trail that we share with them.
After leaving the Foresters’ encampment we continued on the forest trail that follows a water pipeline and arrives at the junction with the trail that comes up from Ban Doi Suthep via the “stations of the cross” route. From this junction we dived into the forest again……
…… and continued on the newly cleared trail down to the Tham Rusee Nature Trail parking place. Here we stopped to phone the Song Taew driver telling him we would be later than the pre-arranged 14:30 hours pick up time. That secured us enough time to keep to the plan of passing through the Nature trail, crossing the stream and going through the Herb Garden before exiting onto the highway for the short walk to the NP HQ vehicle park and our waiting transport.
My thanks and gratitude to Janet, Pam, Richard, John H. and all participants for their patience, care and camaraderie in making my last hike of the season an enjoyable and memorable experience.
Filed under: Hike Reports