Hike and Bike!

Wow – again far better than expected! People tried to talk us out of the hike and then ride. And I have to confess that I thought it might be geared for the tubby tourist. It wasn’t!

We started the climb just inside the gates of the national park – don’t know the elevation, but not much. And we ended at a Hmong village at 1460 meters and just over 2 hours later.

Along the way, our guide (we were lucky to be such a small group) told us about the park, the logging ban, poachers, cobras, and more. It was terrific to have a guide that was both well informed and eager to see more conservation of the park and other Thai resources.

And he was also committed to his work – since his tour companies offer hikes and downhill rides at all levels, he felt like he had to be able to lead a group of novices and experts. And then he confided that if he had too many easy groups in a row, that he spent his day off getting in a great workout!

When we arrived at the Hmomg village, I noticed an old set of stones – used to grind corn and rice.

The Thai government is bringing electricity to the village, and in what struck me as smart was using that as a bartering chip: If the village could comit to preserving the natural resources, and to growing legal crops, the government would ease that cultural shift by providing electricity and help with farming and other things. I hope it works – Thailand banned logging in the mid to late 80’s, and seems to be working hard at implementing more conservation efforts.

After a delicious lunch at the village (population about 300), we (as Queen sang) got on our bikes and rode!

It was mostly downhill, over rock, dirt, clay. The steep parts were some technical due to the varied terrain and yesterdays rain. Along the way, we saw rice terraces, an eagle, a lychee farm, and more. And listened to the cicada matting call, which was surprisingly loud.

Near the end there was a series of optional single track. I took my brother in law’s advice and tried not to look at what I was going over, but what was 10 or 15 feet ahead of me, and this worked surprisingly well until the second to last single track sections. I made the final turn, but didn’t carry enough speed over the ditch to the main trail, and went over the bars, landing (in order) on my head, right shoulder, backpack, left ankle.

Luckily me and the bike and the camera were no worse for wear and tear, so I went after the last single track: I didn’t want my last riding experience in Chiang Mai to be where I fell and didn’t try again!

The last track was hard but fun, and I sped up into the main trail to finish safely. A short ride later and we were at the lake for a rest and a meal in a shaded hut on the water!

Pictures that follow include Puja at the start, the Hmomg village, and Puja descending one of the final frails


One Comment to “Hike and Bike!”

  1. So enjoying your “trip reports”…great adventure! Thank you for taking time to share the details; Joe and I feel like we are getting a vicarious trip. The Lewis peeps.

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