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17/12/31_ Trip Report_Ridge Walk from Ban Pha Nok Kok

Given the informal way in which we organise hikes, the size and make-up of the group is always a potential surprise in waiting, as illustrated perfectly by this Sunday’s hike. One might have anticipated that on New Year’s Eve the hike leader would be seen trudging around his trail in splendid isolation, but not so! The last day of 2017 saw the largest turn-out of the entire year, with 41 would-be hikers and 3 canine companions mustered at the meeting point.

We started by re-allocating passengers between cars in an attempt to minimise the size of the convoy. Even so, a daunting-looking convoy set out behind the lead car. I never did manage to count how many cars, but it must have been 8 or 9 at least. It was with profound relief and a sense of accomplishment that all cars arrived safely at our destination and that the convoy fitted snugly into the large space in the centre of the village.

Before starting out we arranged a group shoot in the village square, partly for posterity and partly so that the leader could get an accurate headcount, taken by a camera-toting member of the group who was appointed as impromptu official hike photographer. Unfortunately during the confusion that reigned at the end of the hike (more of that later), we failed to touch base on how to pass the photos on. Hannah, if you are reading this please click on the link at the bottom to contact me and make arrangements to post your photo(s). Otherwise it will be left to the imagination to conjure up an image of the grinning multitude – man and beast.

The journey out was accomplished with clockwork efficiency. Short stops were made at trail forks and the top of steep slopes, but there were no significant delays and, most importantly, the group stayed together. Highlight of the trail out was the appearance of an Assam Mountain Snake (aka Arrowhead Snake) with the distinctive black arrow on his neck. Sadly none of the hikers who had the privilege of viewing this beautiful creature’s stately progress close up had a camera available to record the event.

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As with the last time when we did this hike, in April, the ridge was in low cloud for most of the day. However, the cloud thinned and broke up from time to time to provide some lovely views, as nicely captured by Andrew’s atmospheric photographs. Although it was quite cool with the cloud and a light breeze there were few complaints as it made for comfortable hiking conditions.

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The choice of snack stop had been left deliberately vague in the pre-hike description with the intention that hikers would make their own decisions about where best suited them once we had reached the more open area towards the western end of the ridge. The hike leader elected to continue on to a large tower located on the highest (just) summit of the day and in the event most of the group continued on with him. Kudos to the municipality (or whoever) for clearing the mounds of rubbish that once surrounded the tower, thus returning it to a pleasant spot to take a picnic.

A major strategic error became apparent half-way through the return leg – we had omitted to include a sheep dog within our canine complement to prevent the flock from straying. In the event two black sheep lost their way, one was located by a search party and the second (thankfully an experienced hiker) managed to drop down from the ridge into the wrong village, 20 km round trip by road from the parked cars. Much gratitude is due to the kind-hearted shepherds who spent considerable time and energy on gathering our lost companions back into the fold.

A happy ending to the story as a large group of us sat in the excellent Thermador restaurant and imbibed its restorative ambience and refreshment.

There has been debate as to whether “Pussy-cat” was a misleading description for this hike. Those who walked as far at the tower covered 14 km and the ridge ups and downs probably doubled total elevation gain to about 600 meters, maybe a notch up from “Pussy-cat” level without being overly difficult. For sure it was not a boring (apologies to feline fanciers) “Pussy-cat” hike and maybe the best epithet would be the “Curate’s Egg” hike – good in (most) parts.

Thanks to all who helped recover our lost souls, to Andrew and David for the photographs, for the entire groups’ co-operation and forbearance in shrugging off the difficulties of the day and last, but not least, to our canine companions who showed just as much energy and good humour as the hikers.

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8 Responses

  1. Thanks very much Richard ! This trek was quite a succes, and your report was a pleasure to read. Will be looking at incoming treks.
    Happy new year !

    • Hi Rene,

      Glad you enjoyed the hike,

      Richard

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    • Glad someone read the trip report!

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  2. Richard, I tried contacting you to send you my photos as you asked but I never got a reply. I probably used the wrong email address?

  3. Hi David,

    My E-mail is richarda_lee@hotmail.com. If you can send me a couple of your best, I will add them to the hike post,

  4. Actually we had a greater number – 45 – for the Sakura hike on 22nd January!

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