A total of 6 people took the opportunity to forsake the attractions of a day-long binge for the quiet delights of the forest. 4 were hiking veterans and the other 2 were first-timers with the group.
The pre-trip time estimate was 5 – 5 ½ hours (the recce had taken us 4). This would have returned us to the haven of the picnic tables before the heat of the day reached its climax. Progress uphill was slow but not disastrously so and we reached the highest point of hike and our snack stop in about 3 hours. Philip meanwhile had taken advantage of our slow progress to hike on ahead up to Ban Chang Khian, where he availed himself of an ice-cold coke. Just as we were preparing to move on Philip appeared running down the hill and we all set out together on the descent.
Unfortunately the steep slopes on the way down proved to be more of a hindrance than the slopes on the way up, and progress down was extremely slow. By the time we reached the helipad one of the party had headed off and two others had been waiting for 40 minutes. The turn-off was successfully located around 500 meters past the helipad and the 5 remaining hikers headed down together into a ravine and crossed the water-course at the bottom. The slope out of the ravine proved to be another problem and resulted in the final fragmentation of the group into 2 fast and 3 slow.
By this time the heat was building and what should have been an easy coast down to the starting point turned into a gruelling trek through the leafless teak forest. Loss of energy and building heat combined to produce near-exhaustion. Finally the 3 end-markers managed to stagger back to the starting point at 14.30 after 7 hours of hiking.
Fortunately the water in the washrooms and the contents of Anders’s cold box combined to revive the weary travellers and all departed in good shape apart from the hike leader’s car, which had broken down. Thanks to Anders for giving us all a lift.
The moral of this story is that at this time of year it is essential to make and stick with a game plan to mitigate the effect of the high temperature.
Filed under: Hike Reports