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17/01/22_Hike report_Doi Pui Sakura quest

delicatesakura

On a beautiful morning, as crowds gathered with gowns and garlands for Graduation Day at Chiang Mai University, 45 hikers showed up at the Arboretum carpark for our annual Doi Pui Sakura Quest. A range of fitness-levels and rambling-styles was catered for by four different itinerary options, co-ordinated by Michael M. The groups and sub-groups wove their tracks up, down and across the mountain.

 

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The three hardcore guys of Option 4, led by Oliver, hiked all the way from bottom to top and top to bottom. Everyone else began by taking motor transportation up to the carpark of Wat Doi Suthep, and setting out on the greened-over old track to Ban Khun Chiang Kian. At the five-way crossing, Option 4 caught up with the main party and then continued on their own way (see notes by Oliver, below). The rest split into several clusters of walkers according to speed, mostly reaching the destination area between 11 and 11:30 am. The destination area stretched between the village  and the University’s agriculture research garden. As usual on a sakura season Sunday, it was a region of festivity. Many of the villagers were wearing Hmong traditional costumes, welcoming flocks of motor-trippers. Although the blossoms had perhaps not quite reached their full glory, the natural display was very pretty too. Most of us enjoyed a coffee shop or other refreshment stall somewhere.

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Photo by Maurice

Option 1 was to get on a pre-ordered songthaew, to go back down. Although initially only five people had signed up for this option, in the end, fifteen of us crammed into the truck. Most alighted at the Wat Doi Suthep carpark, but three arrived back at the Arboretum at 2.20pm.

Option 2 was to retrace the path back to the Wat Doi Suthep area. Since many of the hikers were familiar with the track, this was done in several clusters, according to how soon people wanted to return. But having reached the Wat car-park, several chose to enjoy a meal and drinks together.

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The Option 3 sextet (writes its leader, Peter D) thoroughly enjoyed the route down to Huay Kaew waterfall; all commented that it was shorter and easier than the Option 2 return would have been, plus no songthaew to the Arboretum, and that it added variety to the day. We were chatting so much that the leg went by very quickly indeed. The distance was 7km from the village school with a constant descent on a well-marked trail.

The Option 4 group (writes its leader, Oliver), consisting of only three hikers, had set off from the meeting point at a moderate pace to climb up to the coffee-shop and cherry blossom viewing area rather than take the songtaew with the main group up to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. Quite by chance it reached the 5-way crossing at exactly the same time as the main cohort. After a good start, Oliver got his paths mixed up and led 5 hikers up a trail that was steeper and longer than necessary, joining the Doi Suthep-Pui road to Khun Chang Khian at a higher elevation about 1250m west of the coffee shop. The narrow lane was busy with cherry blossom viewing traffic, but the coffee shop was soon attained. After a decent interval and with numbers back to three again, Oliver’s group struck off for the downward leg via the Hmong village of Khun Chang Khan. Keeping to our moderate pace that allowed conversation, we found ourselves being overtaken on the descent by co-leader Peter and group 2, who we soon lost sight and sound of. Keeping to our pace, we got back to the Huai Kaew Falls and dropped in the Huean Huai Kaew restaurant for a relaxing beer on one of the restaurant’s lower decks. Hike time total including breaks about 7hrs 30min, distance ±18km, elevation gain ±1000m

 

Main report by Michael M. Photos by Chan unless otherwise stated.

 

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