With an initial meeting point at Central Festival at 7 a.m., the full group gathered at 7:30 a.m. at Ban Chak Gas Station (northbound), Doi Saket before driving in convoy up through Thepsadet to Ban Ton Luang, where we parked three vehicles and crammed everyone into two pickups to travel 7 km east on Hwy 1252 to the pass between Chiang Mai and Lampang Provinces and the hike start.
17 hikers from countries in the northern hemisphere as far apart as Canada and Byelorussia strode off in good spirits up the easy path that begins this hike just after 9 a.m.
Stephen took the lead, forging ahead so that he could “burn off the cheap whiskey,” he said, the whiskey seemingly helping him roar up the first demanding pitch that ascends from around 1520m to 1760m (plus or minus—different gps devices give different readings) in less than 350m.
The group spread out as the leaders neared the top while those who’d begun at a more sociable pace, and helped one of their number collect a bag of wild mushrooms, were starting up at the base. By 09:50, however, everyone was at the top to enjoy the 180° vista south and admire the enthusiasm of Pam, a regular hike leader, who mounted the burnt remains of a small tree, shooting from a precarious point sufficiently above the group to include the view in the background of the shot.
Stephen again rushed off down the firebreak along the ridge as it descended 160m in height in a kilometer before climbing to the second peak at ±1690m after a further ±480m.
Being at the front, Stephen was rewarded with a sighting of what he thinks were a mating pair of wild jungle cats (he described them as having grayish markings not dissimilar to that of tabby) of a species not much bigger than the domestic variety. One rushed off at his sudden appearance while the other slunk into the undergrowth to growl, leaving Stephen in no doubt that this was a wild cat.
By 11 a.m. the group was leaving the makeshift shack on the second peak that sheltered a new, life-sized seated Buddha image that had been invited to grace this peak a year or so previously. The rattling of loose sheets of the half blown-off roof flapping in the wind faded as the extent of the drop and ascent that lay between the second peak and lunch on the third peak became apparent.
In around 330 meters the trail dropped 145m before climbing the other side of the V to a ridge around 1665m in elevation.
The final steep climb to the summit of Doi Langka Noi (±1760m) was made by everyone except Mina and Pam, who chose to enjoy lunch and rest on the lower ridge—we were to use the same route at this point in our descent down to the village.
By 12:45 p.m., after picnic lunching—Thai hikers always make superb preparations—in a setting that offered superb views both to the north and south, the rest was more or less downhill.
While most had ascended to the summit of Doi Langka Noi by the steep and exposed front route that offers little to hold onto except rock and tufts of grass, many chose to go down by “Janet’s bypass,” a less exposed, slightly less steep descent from the summit to the ridge.
By all accounts, Goy narrowly escaped a serious fall—the kind that tumbles down a slope and results in serious injury—but otherwise, after a descent of more than 600m over four or so kilometers, everyone was enjoying cool drinks in the village shop of Ban Ton Luang by 2:50 p.m.
Anders ferried Oliver, the hike leader, and Stephen back to their pickups left at the start point of the hike (about seven kilometers east up Highway 1252 from the village), before everyone dropped by the Pang Hai Coffee Shop for food and drink, ending a day that hikers said was good but quite tough.
Total hike distance 8.35km. Total Ascent (approx.) 700m total descent 1150m. Duration of hike 5hrs 45 min.
Many thanks to all hikers for an enjoyable day and to Stephen and Pam for helping keep everyone together.
Trip report by Oliver, photos by Oliver, Pam, Anders.
Filed under: Hike Reports