The day dawned warm and sunny as 47 hikers and 2 dogs showed up at the arboretum. At least 6 of them were new to the group and a few had returned after a long time away. The leader expected to have a hard time keeping the group together, but with a few times to regroup we stayed pretty close. The first waterfall, Huay Kaew, gave us a nice show as we looked down from the upper trail, and then we quickly passed by Wang Bua Baan, the 2nd waterfall, and stayed under the heavy canopy of forest until we came out into the wide area with a large cliff overhang, Pha Ngeup, and stopped for a snack and to wash the sweat off our faces. Here is a rare sight we came upon, butterflies mating. Otherwise they would have been flitting about and impossible to catch with a camera.
After 10 minutes or so, we continued up along the overgrown trail, climbed the big stone staircase up to the road, crossed over, and found the next trail a short ways down the road on the other side. All would have gone well from her on if the leader had not pictured the way differently and forgotten there would be a right hand turn off the main trail. This, in retrospect, should have been obvious, but she led the group straight ahead, up steadily, coming to the top of the ridge. Long before reaching the ridge she knew something had gone wrong, but a few GPS carriers assured her that we were still headed for the waterfall. The problem was that we were headed for the wrong one, the “hidden waterfall”. Once this was clear, 2 other GPS carriers clarified that we had missed our right hand turn, so the whole group turned back and, after a quick descent of about 20 minutes, came to the turn we had passed by. At this point 2 hikers and their 2 dogs decided to return to the starting point.
We reached the 3rd waterfall, Chang Khian, a bit before 11am, and shortly after our co-leader arrived, having been delayed by an errand and so coming up to the waterfall from the finishing point. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch break here, many going right in under the waterfall which was at its perfect complement of water, allowing the brave to safely have a cold shower or a soak in the pool below it. Our co-leader then led us back safely and directly to the arboretum. Thanks to all the cheerful hikers who didn’t complain about the extra distance added to the hike. To save face I called it a ”bonus” because as it turned out the timing for the hike, including a long lunch break, was exactly the estimated 4 hours.
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