After about 75 emails and a possible record number of blog comments (15 published so far, but many trashed) we finally got nine hikers together at the meeting point and then met up with our tenth member at the start point (1,550m) at 08.00, after dropping one car off near the Agricultural Research station on the way. The weather wasn’t quite as clear as we’d hoped but the local views were still spectacular. We reached the base of the stupa outcrop after 2 hours, took a further hour to climb down, and then up, the steep, narrow trail around the cliffs, and then a final hour and a half through the sometimes indistinct, dense rhododendron- and fern-forest, trails to the peak (2,565m), where the welcome facilities of so-called civilisation (toilets, coffee shop, picnic tables, rubbish bins) were tempered by the camera-clicking hordes and their cars. Quite a contrast with the silence and majesty of the surrounding (and mostly ignored) cloud forest.
After lunch we started back into the welcoming arms of the trees. The group attempted to split at one promising-looking junction but the new trail soon petered out and we re-joined forces for the steep semi-circumnavigation return past the stupa peak. Most of us then took the short detour up to view the stupa and the vapour clouds swirling up and around it, while a few hikers opted to rest weary limbs at the base instead, before the steep short-cut descent through dark and cool forest back to the dropped-off pickup (and a bit of shopping in the local-produce market). Tired, but still smiling, after 15.5 kms, up 1,315m, down 1,400m in 9 hrs 13 mins. Thanks to all for photos and special thanks to our drivers (on both hikes) for their long day and to the pre-hike explorers for several long days. The only sign of the other, stupa, group was a few dropped strawberries. If anybody has lost a Canon camera viewfinder cover in the area, get in touch.
Filed under: Hike Reports