A total of 25 hikers gathered at the starting point on what promised to be a beautiful clear day.
The hike winds up on dirt roads through open farmland until it reaches the base of a limestone ridge. From here we followed a well-marked forest track which rises at a gentle gradient through open bamboo forest to the first cave. In order to climb down into the cave we had to clear a mess of discarded bamboo stakes and netting that had been used to net all the fruit bats that used to live in this cave. However, we were delighted to find that a few fruit bats and a number of smaller bats have since re-colonised.
At this point the trail ends and the way forward is up a very steep slope through open forest to the cultivated plateau 100 meters above. Two years ago we used a poorly delineated trail that winds up the left-hand side of the slope, but this has become overgrown and on a recent exploration hike the group had failed to locate it. Instead we ascended pretty much directly upwards, which proved to be steeper than intended and with scattered stones near the top of the climb which were easily dislodged. The slope proved too much for several people and Ander’s rope saw much action. Many thanks to Anders and his rope, we are glad you both came along. This is not a suitable option for any future Sunday hikes to this area. At the top of the steep section we located the upper part of the windy trail, which was indeed overgrown but did serve to help us negotiate the heavy jungle leading to a large corn field and our lunch stop under a couple of farmer shelters
Stomachs full and drama over, the next portion of the hike was a leisurely stroll through the fields to the Tukatan Cave. Most of the group stayed to marvel at the impressive cave formations near the entrance, but a group of us including our younger members, continued in several hundred meters to as far as one could penetrate standing vertically. The only apparent way on from here was through a small hole in the floor through which bats were flying. There could well be another cavern below. However, it would take better preparation to proceed safely and a poor sense of smell to deaden the bat odours.
The hike back from Tukatan Cave was enlivened by some tomato harvesters, giving several hikers the opportunity for an impromptu shopping stop.
Fortunately we did not need to suffer from the glaring sunlight promised during the morning and instead the last few kilometres were completed in an ideal combination of overcast skies but with a clear view over the Doi Pui massif.
The final statistics of the walk show that 13 kilometres were covered in a time of 7 hours.
Filed under: Hike Reports