A group of 23 potential hikers turned up on time at the Irrigation Department HQ above 700-Year stadium. One member absconded immediately after the photo session. No-one took up the offer of an easier alternative hike, so all 22 remaining set out for the hike as advertised under lowering skies and with the promise of heavy rain to come.
Over the first section we had to struggle through tall grass that has sprung up during the monsoon and covered parts of the trail. Unfortunately one experienced hiker was feeling the effects of a previous leg injury and opted to return. The remaining 21 maintained a brisk pace and arrived at Porcupine falls in good order, where we stopped to re-group and take on water.
The next section was enlivened by some interesting bugs, including a fabulous tufted long-horn beetle, which would have featured here but for a terrible photograph. The sporadic light rain only served to cool us down and did not even warrant the donning of waterproofs.
The group split at a parting of the ways with some hikers taking the opportunity to rest up under a shelter while the advance guard made an unscheduled ascent of the mightily (un)impressive Doi Pa Ka. All came together again around a huge log at the brunch stop, bang on the pre-hike estimated time of 10.30.
The steep slopes down to the helipad overlooking Huay Thung Thao were negotiated without difficulty and obligingly the clouds parted to allow for a panoramic view of the Chiang Mai Valley.
The short-cut to the dirt road between Huay Thung Thao and the Irrigation Dam was located and negotiated with no problems. The heavens finally opened as we were crossing the building site just before the reservoir and we all got a good soaking. One doubts that this road will still be passable once the swank new development is completed.
Fortunately the squall passed before we reached the vehicles permitting us to change and go home in comfort. Total time taken 6 hours to cover the 13 kilometers.
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