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18/03/18_Report_Beyond Buddha’s Footprint

A relatively small group of 10 hikers met at the Arboretum for this late winter hike on Doi Pui. We speculated that perhaps the seasonal visitors are beginning to leave Chiang Mai now that spring is beckoning in their homelands. Our group traveled in three cars and two motorbikes to the start of the hike at Ban Hmong Doi Pui, a popular tourist destination on the south slope of the mountain. There we met another hiker who had arrived by motorbike to join our group, which now numbered eleven.

From the hill tribe village we proceeded on a gradually rising trail through a highland forest for about two kilometers until reaching a saddle with a large valley opening to the north. Beyond the saddle we continued northwest about one kilometer up a gradual incline until reaching a rocky summit at 1522 meters elevation. A quick snack and drink refreshed the group in preparation for the trek “beyond Buddha’s Footprint” which only two of us had previously visited.

Just beyond Buddha’s Footprint on the top of the ridge, we encountered a newly constructed meeting venue consisting of a stage with benches to accommodate over a hundred people, a small campground, and two concrete toilets with running water for the convenience of visitors. Signs and written slogans indicated the area was a meeting place for villagers and volunteers working to prevent fires and preserve the wilderness.

Hiking down the ridge, we entered new territory with less underbrush, more pines, and more open views to the valley below. Traversing around a small peak, we shortly arrived at a junction of several roads leading to hill tribe villages below. There we encountered a small group of villagers who appeared to be enjoying a social get-together while some of the women engaged in craft activity. From the junction we hiked up a road to the grassy summit of a small mountain where we enjoyed a lite lunch while imagining the views of Doi Inthanon we’d see on a day that offered greater visibility.

From our pleasant hill top lunch spot, we retraced our steps back down and then up the ridge leading toward the newly constructed meeting venue. Once reaching that point, we elected to follow the trail that traverses the west slope of the ridge below Buddha’s Footprint. We noted that the trail had recently been improved and cleared of dense underbrush. There were some flowering trees to be seen, but clearly they were beyond their prime.

Rejoining the main trail we returned along the path previously traveled to the village from which we had departed. Before leaving for home, we enjoyed a second lunch and liquid refreshments while sharing impressions of the day’s experience. The consensus found the hike to be an agreeable extension of the classic trek to Buddha’s Footprint.

Total distance covered: 13 km., elevation gain: 615 meters, time elapsed, including breaks and lunch: 6 hours.

Hike initiation and report by Michael G. Photos by Michaels G & M, and Janet

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