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17/11/19 Trip report Huay Tung Thao Ridge Loop

There was a degree of confusion at the start of the hike, as a correction to the hike description was posted the previous day when it became known that a marathon run was to take place along the north-bound lane of the canal road, first thing Sunday morning. Half the hikers had already noted the pre-correction start time of 8am, and, having noted it, did not feel the need to revisit the website late Saturday. So Peter D led ten hikers from the Golden Buddha statue at just gone 8am. Peter G-B however, stayed behind to wait for those hikers planning to turn up for the 9am start.

Peter D account: The weather was forecast to be el scorchio, with a maximum of 36°C, and sky-high humidity, and so it proved to be. Climbing up, up and away from Huay Tung Thao lake our group initially jumped athletically (well the boys did anyway) across a concrete water-bearing culvert, up alongside and finally across a rocky stream, through grass, scrub and bamboo, and onto a fairly steep dirt-track road that wended its way inexorably up the mountain. Mostly wooded surroundings suddenly gave way to orchard basking in hot sunshine – several of the group took fruit hanging from an orange tree shading a convenient stopping point at a hut with a bench. Cynthia was about to sit on the bench at the precise point where mum and babe scorpion just happened to be minding there own business. Jenny took a few photos of these Arachnidae.

The path continued on through more orchards alternating with diverse tropical rain-forest containing fabulous towering Dipterocarpus alatus trees; a grove of Eucalyptus was espied above the first of the orchard areas. Butterflies were also prominent either nectaring or salt-sipping on damp rock surfaces, especially in the orchard areas. Species were numerous and included: Yam Fly, Neptis species, Dragontail, Common Imperial plus other Lycaenid species.

Further uphill sections took us eventually to our own private summit, and lunch. Here it was a touch cooler than the broiling soup kitchen below. From this point it was all downhill – a little too downhill for some – on reasonable forest trails through mainly invasive bamboo. Care had to be taken, with the length of the descent taking its toll on the legs of many within the group. Lower down, we reached a more flat and open grass-festooned ridge section which provided a smidgeon of respite, before dipping down once more through forest to rejoin the path close to our staring point, and eventually back to our cars and bikes.

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Peter G-B’s account:  A group of 10, including three Newbies, set off at the later time and followed in the tracks of the earlier group and good progress was made up the hill to the turn off point.  After a short water break we continued along the dirt road, on a much  more gentle gradient, through light forest and farmland taking a pause every now and then to take in the scenery.  Upon coming to a junction, where we stopped for a snack break, we were left with two choices, option 1 was to follow in the footsteps of the earlier group, which entailed another 300mtrs ascent and about 2.5kms distance, or take a short cut and miss that section out.  By a large majority it was decided to take the short cut.

With snacks eaten we set off once again and, after a few hundred metres, left the dirt road and went back into the forest and the start of the descent.  We were not as lucky as the first group with regard to wildlife although some of us did get a fleeting glimpse of a snake as it sped past us, we thing it was either a Copperhead Racer or a Red Mountain Rat snake, whatever it was it was in a hurry and did not wait to be photographed.  Our route back was different to that of the earlier group and we did not have to negotiate the bamboo but otherwise, we met the same challenges and the group became a bit spread out for the  last kilometre.  All was well, nobody got lost and we arrived back at the cars/bikes with the same number that set out and from there it was a quick change and off to the restaurant for the usual post-hike refreshments and to wait for the other group.

The 2P’s would like to thank all who turned up, for both hikes, it was great to see everyone and special thanks to Cynthia (who was on the 0800 hike) for the photos.

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