On a cool bright morning, 27 hikers met at the Arboretum carpark for the annual sakura pilgrimage. This turned into a multi-leader event combining three main variations on the basic hike.
The basic hike began at the bottom of the Wat Doi Suthep steps at 08:30, and found its way onto what was perhaps once a vehicle route to Khun Chiang Kian village via the Five-Way Junction. This is now one of the most beautiful trails on Doi Pui: for the most part a gentle but steady climb. Cool weather and birdsong added to its loveliness on the day. We reached the top around 11:30, and dispersed to visit the Hmong village (where new year festivities were under way) and the university agricultural research garden (where the sakura blossoms were most glorious).
In the main variation, 16 of us re-assembled at 13:00 to squeeze into a songthaew, which carried us (except for a bit where it stalled on an uphill slope) back to the Arboretum.
A second group – seven people – retraced the path from the village to the Wat Doi Suthep carpark (2 hours 25 mins), where they enjoyed a restaurant meal together before driving home.
Meanwhile, three of the hardiest continued by hiking all the way back down to the Arboretum via the village school. Peter, the co-leader, led the party along correct paths to the bottom of the mountain. The virtually continuous descent was accomplished in just under two hours. Peter then completed the loop on his own, walking through the University grounds, up the Pilgrim’s Trail and eventually to where he had left his motorcycle beneath the steps leading up to Wat Doi Suthep. In one of the nearby restaurants he found some late revellers from the second team – Tom, Nina and Anders – amidst a large collection of (empty) beer bottles.
Many thanks to Janet, Tom and Anders for special assistance to the designated hike leaders, Michael and Peter. And thanks to all the participants for good co-operation and fellowship.
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