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  • On this website some experienced Chiang Mai hikers post open invitations to join their hikes in the area.
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  • Hike descriptions may be posted at short notice. So it may be worth checking the website frequently.
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2021/03/28_Zoo hike

The hot smoky season, and the fact that this will be a voting day for Thais, make it the right time for a relatively short local hike. So let’s do something new: have a walk round the zoo. It covers a surprisingly large area, but many of us have lived in Chiang Mai for a long time without ever having been inside. The basic cost is a reasonable THB 150 for adults.

We will try to hike this as a group, following a route researched by the leader, taking about three hours. Very short pauses may be incorporated in order to look at animals, but we will try to keep this as a hike with forward momentum.

Leader: Michael

Meeting time and place: 7.50am for 8am departure from the small carpark west of Huay Kaew Arboretum.

Don’t forget: Bring sun protection and plenty of fluids.

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.

2021/03/21_Doi Lang Lo backwards

The AQI is well below 200 and the hike is ON.

The highest point of Doi Lang Lo sits at 920m and allegedly has a small volcano at the summit. The mountain is also known as Nangmo mountain and Mon Jing. What ever you wish to call it, it does stand out when travelling along the 1317 in Mae On area, This is due to its steep nature and several sheer rocky cliffs.

There are 4 main ridges dropping from the summit and the group in the past has ascended through the forest, the one on the West and then gone down the South Ridge, which is also known as Suicide Ridge, this is because it is rocky with steep drop offs on either side. This time of year also loose and slippery in places making it a difficult descent for some. However we will reverse the direction of the hike so the ridge will be ascended. In general steep loose slopes are safer ascended, rather than descended.The ridge itself does need some moving around simple rock obstacles and while traversing the ridge could not be described as difficult it may be a concern to those with poor balance or a fear of heights.

Our hike will be close to 8km with a total ascent of over 600m. Normally completed in around 4 hours. The mountain has already been subject to extensive burning, several weeks ago, with some more recent areas lower down. This can be seen as an advantage as it reduces the risk of any danger from fire when hiking. Most of the trail avoids walking through ash.

Hike leader: John (deputy: Michael)

If you want to come: Please make sure you have read the general advice on this website (see tabs above) as well as this specific post. If you still think this hike is for you, just turn up at the stated time and place (see below). Lifts in cars are usually available. (Please offer your driver THB 100 toward fuel costs for the return trip.)

Meeting time and place: 7:30am for a 7:40 departure from the side of the 1317 slip road in front of Promenada shopping mall.

Bring: as per usual advice (see tabs above). Especially note:

  • Water or isotonic fluids
  • Consider a PM2.5-proof face mask

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.

2021/03/14_Doi Ton loop

Air quality has improved slightly – the score is less than 200 – so the hike is ON!

The plateau on this mountain  is over 800m and has many different Bhudda shrines, images and constructions. The hike starts at lake level, tracks the lake edge for a distance and then gradually ascends on forest tracks. As the slope gets steeper one meets steps cut into the hillside and every 500m or so large shelters, the slope continues to get more severe in gradient, but assisted by steps and handrails, even at one point a large steel staircase. So  it has been made possible for regular less fit walkers to get to the summit. The descending trails are much gentler in incline and while leaves and dry surface makes them a little slippy in places, they are never difficult  for anyone with decent footwear.

Total distance is around 7km, with ascent 550m.   Easily completed in less that 4 hours with ample time to visit the interesting features.

Hike leader: John (with normal Michael as deputy)

If you want to come: Please make sure you have read the general advice on this website (see tabs above) as well as this specific post. If you still think this hike is for you, just turn up at the stated time and place (see below). Lifts in cars are usually available. (Please offer your driver THB 100 toward fuel costs for the return trip.)

Meeting time and place: 7:30am for a 7:40 departure from the side of the 1317 slip road in front of Promenada shopping mall.

Bring: as per usual advice (see tabs above). Especially note:

  • Water or isotonic fluids
  • Consider an air quality mask

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

2021/03/07_Huay Lan Orbital

Well, yes, the air is getting a bit smokier, but our leader reports that when he went to do the recce on Wednesday, it did not smell or feel bad, and he had no trouble with breathing or eyes. And the softened colours were rather charming. So maybe you don’t have enough reason just yet to give up on your hiking exercise.

We will orbit the Huay Lan reservoir. The main group will go up onto a ridge (pictured) on the west side, return to base-level on the south side, and do another slightly lower climb on the east side. There is an option for gentler hikers to skip the ridge climb and instead visit the smaller Huay Pa Rai reservoir before rejoining the main route.

Total distance for either option is a bit less than 10km, expected to take four hours. The paths are not very difficult, but care is needed in some sections to avoid turning an ankle on loose stones covered by leaves.

At the end we may have lunch at Baanpong Lodge where it might be possible to swim in the pool. So bring your swimming togs if interested.

Hike leader: John (with normal Michael as deputy)

If you want to come: Please make sure you have read the general advice on this website (see tabs above) as well as this specific post. If you still think this hike is for you, just turn up at the stated time and place (see below). Lifts in cars are usually available. (Please offer your driver THB 100 toward fuel costs for the return trip.)

Meeting time and place: 7:30am for a 7:40 departure from the side of the 1317 slip road in front of Promenada shopping mall.

Bring: as per usual advice (see tabs above). Especially note:

  • Water or isotonic fluids
  • Bathing costume if you want to swim afterwards

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.