A perfect day for this hike brought out 17 hikers, clear skies and the hope of clear views. Traveling in 3 cars and 2 motorcycles we arrived at the Doi Suthep parking lot where we set out.The hike was a variation on the usual skirting of the palace. For an added challenge we took the very steep shortcut from the stone bench up to its exit onto the trail above the Catholic center. A good warm-up.
When we arrived at the Black Cliff we were rewarded with beautiful views and a refreshing breeze, so hung around for a while.
Then we continued up toward the palace fence, where we found the trail quite overgrown, and still hiding pieces of left over barbed wire. We reached the corner of the fence in good time, anticipating a snack/lunch break, but then part way up the path we came across a wonderful surprise, a large turtle which kept us occupied taking pictures. We must have given it a scare, for when we passed by again it had disappeared. Now I have done some research and identified this as an Impressed Tortoise, which has a status of “vulnerable”. They can grow to a size of 12″, which is about what ours was, so probably quite old. They are found throughout most of SE Asia, feed on mushrooms, and (here is the romantic part) the male courts the female by bobbing his head up and down and opening his mouth.
At the top of Doi Suthep we had completed the all up-hill part of the hike and had our rest and refreshments.
Afterward Anders announced that he had another trail that he and 2 others would try out and rejoin us along the palace fence farther down. This was the first of 3 diversions he led. From here it was all downhill and steep along the palace fence and down to the horse coral trail. We encountered many more trees down along the trail since the last time we has passed that way.
Pam captured a tiny butterfly with her camera and later a lovely lizard which seemed to think we couldn’t see him as he froze on a tree trunk.
By now some of us were feeling tired and welcomed a change of plans that would bring us back to the parking lot and lunch sooner. Again Anders led his little group on a diversion and met us farther along.
The main group hiked 11.7 km. and Anders group 12.6, all arriving at the restaurant in 5 hr. 13 min. Thanks to all who came with energy, enthusiasm, and good humor as well an enough drinking water.
Filed under: Hike Reports