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  • On this website some experienced Chiang Mai hikers post open invitations to join their hikes in the area.
  • We use the date format YY/MM/DD where YY is the year, MM is the month and DD is the day of the month.
  • Hike descriptions may be posted at short notice. So it may be worth checking the website frequently.
  • Hikes may be cancelled or varied at short notice due to weather conditions or other factors. So it is advisable to check the website beforehand on the day of the hike.
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2021/04/11_Report_Big white Buddha to Luang Pu Thuat and high ridge back

The worst of the smoky season seems to be over, and our number of hikers got back into double digits. Our twelve participants included at least three returnees from southern islands.

Our bread-and-butter of our hiking was on forest paths, a bit stony but clear enough, the forest still looking dry but relieved by some young growths and blooms. This bread and butter enclosed a unique filling in the form of a visit to Wat Mae Ta Khrai, with its old Hell theme park and new giant statues of Luang Pu Thuat.

The forest hiking had its own highlights, especially in the views from the high ridge that we climbed (most of us) in the second half.

Most of us… . Yes, we lost two of our most experienced and ardent hikers at the junction between a ridge that went upwards and another one that went downwards. Not easy to see or explain in the forest which was which, and they did want to press ahead of the leader. But with GPS, phone contact and the road nearby they didn’t get badly lost, and we picked them up on the road at the end.

The upsurge in Covid-19 cases in Chiang Mai in the last week meant that restaurants were now observing a strict alcohol ban, and many were closed altogether. We counted ourselves lucky to find a local place willing to send out for soft drinks and serve simple dishes, and where there was space to talk to each other while spread out in a socially-distanced way. Many thanks to our leader for this interesting and enjoyable hike.

Distance 13.5km. Elevation gain 640m. Hike time: 5 hours, including breaks and temple visit.

Hike leadership by John. Reporting by Michael. Photos by Michael, Othmar and Bussakorn.

2021/04/04_Report_Wiang Kum Kam hike

It was a short, dry-season filler, but an enjoyable little stroll for the four of us who took part. We were lucky that after days of increasing heat and smoke some rain had come to Chiang Mai the previous evening, making the day relatively cool and fresh.

From the Wiang Kum Kam Information Center we walked to the river, where the streamside promenade is less obstructed than it was the last time we visited. However, the river-management compound with the barrage still blocks the way; we had to use some ingenuity and athleticism to avoid a long detour in order to get through to the stretch where one sees the pyramid of Wat Chedi Liem presiding over the vegetation-fringed waterway.

A new monks’ dormitory is being built at Wat Chedi Liem, and one of us paid for a tile bearing his initials to be incorporated.

House-building has eradicated some of the trees around Wat That Kaow, but the lady who runs the refreshment stand has tried to compensate through her cultivation of a colourful flowerbed, currently featuring sunflowers among others. Continuing to Wat E-Kang, we found that the flimsy and dusty hall built for a royal visit some ten or twenty years ago has at last been removed. Not so the more picturesquely dilapidated wooden home nearby.

At the former visitor center and Wat Kan Thom:

Toward the end we investigated a veteran automobile yard.

Well, we were just four boys. The so-called hike took barely two hours and we spent nearly as long over coffee at the end, telling stories about the famous people we have met, speculating on collective body-mass of dogs in the world, and discussing the fungibility of animal movie stars. It was another happy day.

2021/03/28_Report_Zoo hike

Eight hikers, nearly eight km, three hours, lots of animal photos.

After walking round the west (mountain) side of the zoo, we stopped for refreshments and then split into two groups. While two hikers returned through the zoo, six marched out of the back entrance, down through Wat Fai Hin, into the west gate of CM University, and looped back via the University lakes. Our outing was rounded off by iced drinks at the Milk kiosk in the Nature Study Centre.

Leadership by Michael. Photos by Michael, Young-he and Champ.

2021/03/21_Report_Doi Lang Lo backwards

Just four takers for this tough hike. Tough not because of distance (8km) or elevation gain (600m) or even air quality (AQI 160), but more because of stony terrain and – on this day – heat reaching nearly 40C. Nevertheless, it was a satisfying accomplishment for the hikers who did it, and, as usual, afforded scenes of beauty and interest.

The four takers:

Rocky adventure:

Reasonably good views:

Nature: cicada, new sapling growth with shiny colours:

Finally, big big big thanks to our leader, John, who has prepared our hikes (meticulously) for three weeks in a row, in this difficult season.

Leadership by John. Report by Michael. Photos by Michael and Champ.

2021/03/14_Report_Doi Ton loop

A total of 8 hikers enjoyed a hike of 7.3km with around 550m of ascent in just under 4 hours. The group consisted of 6×2-legged hikers and 2×4-legged hikers. The 4-legged hikers were generally the best behaved members of the group, only getting a little exited when leaving the hike in the back of a pickup, they were chased for quite a distance by a noisy pack of local lake, mountain dogs.

The air appeared slightly improved from previous days, despite extensive burning evident on the mountain, some of this very recent, evidenced by smoking logs. Fortunately the trail was made more visible by the burnt ground either side and did not detract from the enjoyment of the trail and its surrounding scenery.

A short distance around the lake, staffed by multi-rodded fisherman, led to the dry river bed and the start of the steps cut into the hillside.  Altitude is gained quickly on this hike and some views were possible, particularly of the impressive steep cliffs ahead. Going was good and a number of salas allowed the group to assemble at each one.

 

Impressive rare bug found on the path and fortunately spotted before it was trampled. 

Circumnavigating one of the contour paths at the base of a steep cliff an empty, almost plastic honeycomb was spotted, and above on the higher up cliff overhangs were a number of these seen.  Impossible to reach by climbing, some sweet toothed locals had assembled some long readily available bamboo sections to make up some complicated ladders and honey collection devices. A dangerous endeavour given the amount of loose rock on these cliff faces.

Completing the steepest parts of the climb and leaving the steps, rails and steel staircases the group turned onto the ridge which takes one to the highest point. Near the top one joins a dirt road which snakes its way right down to lake level.  This has facilitated the development of the plateau as an area of religious shrines, which were inspected and photographed by all.

Descending a short way on the road the trail soon branched off to track some river valleys and the bamboo forested descent path was safely negotiated by all.

Before reaching the place where the path reached the start of the ascending steps, a couple of buildings and another set of steps was seen. On checking them out it was found to be a holy well, still producing running water, with cups available to sample the clean water, backed up by a board listing the expected mineral contents and the absence of harmful bacteria. Blue pvc pipe went up a steep trail from the top of the steps and the group followed this to find the pipe disappeared into the cliff face, not a conventional well.

Most were pleased that despite high (under 200) numbers from the pollution index the walking environment had been quite acceptable and to continue with the planned hike today was the right decision.

A short drive to a favourite corner restaurant allowed all to have a pleasant and economical lunch.

Hike leadership and reporting by John. Photos from Champ, Bussakorn and Michael.

2021/03/07_Report_Huay Lan Orbital

Just 5 determined hikers met up at Huay Lan reservoir for the 9km circuit of the reservoir and two of its surrounding mountain ridges.

The morning air was similar to the midweek, not at all clear with a soften outline of the reservoir and the ridges to be scaled. However it improved when altitude was gained and did not lead to difficulty breathing or to sore eyes. Starting with a brisk walk over the dam admiring the flocks of birds on the reservoir and passing a large sala, surrounded by signs forbidding the leaving of plastic waste. However the signs have been sadly ignored by thoughtless visitors.

The ascent of the first ridge began on a discernible trail, albeit with leaves and large stones. The trail soon disappeared but the  ridge above could be seen, allowing the hikers to find their preferred route around the stones. Assembling on the ridge the walking became easier, helped by the occasional white ribbon tied around the trees. The intended route was to continue up this ridge, but on reaching a contour path it was obvious the the whole mountain above this path was burnt.

This had happened since Wednesday. What was also obvious was that  the leaves had been swept away and downhill of the path, creating a firebreak and there was no burnt ground below the path. This happened after the Chiang Mai authorities declared last weekend that all intentional fires were illegal until after the 30th of April.  From the length of the contour path and the effort with the leaves this must have been the coordinated effort of quite a number of people. 


One advantage of not continuing up the ridge, was that the descent was shorter and less steep. However no trail in this direction meant the gpx track or compass bearing had to be followed, but going underfoot was OK for all.  Stopping for a snack break one observant hikers saw quite a long snake on a nearby hump. The hikers wishing to take photographs ventured ever nearer, and the snake watched warily but did not retreat.


Having reached a lower altitude the group found a worn track which lead in the required direction, eventually joining a larger well worn vehicle track. Here was spotted the rubber sole of a walking boot, tried for size by all it was found to best fit the Euro 45 feet of the leader. Further on the same sharp eyed hiker spotted the rest of the boot, and even further on was spotted the second abandoned boot.. No further footwear or body parts were spotted that day.

A short visit was made to a fenced enclosure with an information board showing that here had been planted trees local to each of the 77 provinces of Thailand.

9km and 450m of climbing was completed in under 4 hours and the group was happy to retire to the nearby Baanpong Lodge.  Service and food was good, the environment pleasant and the prices reasonable, although no members decided to part with 100 baht for the swimming fee. Maybe a bottle of beer was seen as a better option.


Hike leadership and reporting by John. Pictures from Bussakorn, Champ, Young-hee and Michael

2021/02/28_Report_Ban Pong upland farming loop

A surprising twenty hikers turned up at the starting point, including some newbees and returnees, and combined with two hikers waiting for us at the Temple this gave a grand total of twenty-two hikers and two canine volunteers for this new hike.

Keeping with tradition the hike leader missed an early turn, ably assisted by his co-leader, but this was quickly corrected. After a period two hikers decided to turn back and walk back to the temple, where we would meet them later. The rest of the group wound its way through a patchwork of cultivated fields, small encampments of farm workers and barking dogs, with some of the latter taking exception to the presence of the two canine volunteers, without any serious engagement. At the first mini stop there was much camera clicking at a rather large stick insect and the patchwork field views.

After that things went quiet as we made the not steep but longish climb up the road towards the highest point on the hike. Shortly afterwards we came upon the “Rose garden” a cultivated area of rose flowers, which caused considerably excitement among some hikers.

The owners of the field kindly give free rose bud flowers and a bunch of bananas to the hikers and the hike leader felt obliged to offer some unasked for compensation, which was gracefully accepted. The hike leader then made another short wrong turn, which happily ended in strawberry fields with one of the hikers buying a bucket of strawberries.

We had our lunch/snack break at the end of our road through the agricultural area, where our path turned down into the forest. During the exploratory trip two weeks ago the hike leader had taken the wrong turn half way down the forest trail but this time, conferring with his co-leader, we stayed on the right track, and completed the 15km loop hike in a good time of four hours and fifteen minutes. We picked up the other two hikers at the temple and retired for refreshments at one of the restaurants overlooking the Hillsborough Country hotel.

Hike leadership and reporting by SRR. Dependable backup by Tall Michael. Photos from Champ, Bussakorn and (the master of the stick-insect) Oliver.

2021/02/21_Trip Report_Mystery Ridge

The monks and lay helpers at Wat Kio Tam, a sleepy Wat in the middle of nowhere, must have been amazed to be inundated by a large convoy of vehicles and humans descending on them from all points of the compass. Numbers were too much for the two pick-ups originally intended for the shuttle, so a third was pressed into service to help convey 23 hikers the 4km to the hike start point. Realistically this is the most vehicles that can be parked safely off-road at the take-off point.

Conditions were perfect for hiking. The weather was cool and pollution monitors were reading in the green zone.

The initial section of the hike flatters to deceive being more like a Sunday after-lunch stroll along the lovely Mae Wan stream, with bucolic views over flood plain and forest. Once the trail starts to climb, though, it keeps climbing. never overly steep but only occasionally flat and never down. The initial part of the climb up on to the ridge still offers panoramic views back over the Mae Wan Valley, but after turning right onto a forest trail following the ridge line no more views are to be had because of all the damned trees.

The thick layer of leaves and lack of those nasty little stones that have one roller-skating down any slight incline makes for pleasant underfoot conditions. An impromptu snack stop turned into an irresistible photo op and eventually, just as lunch time was approaching, some large rocks appeared from nowhere to make perfect picnic benches.

By this time the forest trail has broadened out into what must be intended for a firebreak.

Alas, though, as we approached the high-point of our hike, our trail deviated from this majestic highway onto an easily-overlooked small trail through thick undergrowth. Although this trail continues all the way through, it is not much used and is sometimes difficult to follow where blocked by fallen trees. Inevitably at one point the leaders managed to execute a perfect loop, which had the entirely unintended consequence of allowing the back-markers to catch up and meant the entire group emerged from the jungle onto the wide coffee road at the same time. The short hike back to Wat Kio Tam along Highway 1252 was enlivened by the sublime white flowers of the Dok Siew trees and these magnolia look-alikes.

This is a good hike for the descent-averse. Not only is the down much less than the up, but the cushion of dry leaves and lack of slippy stones makes for a relatively comfortable descent.

Home at last! A temple with all mod cons.

Having finished in a little under 5 hours, there was plenty of time to enjoy a cold drink and some hot food in Doi Saket on the way home.

Thanks to Oliver, Kissinger and Andrew for help with the car shuttle and to Andrew, Michael, Champ and Young-hee for photographs.