Successful Linking of Hiking Routes in Phang Nga Province
Phang Nga Province offers some of the best jungle in the region. Just one hour north of the Sarasin Bridge (the bridge to Phuket), Phang Nga Province is truly authentic Thailand. There are still vast areas of old-growth jungle, with towering emergent trees, abundant wild fruit, an impressive variety of birds, some wildlife, beautiful creeks, and no shortage of waterfalls.
I have done a lot of research trips to Phang Nga Province and I knew some of the routes traveled were fairly close to each other. However, it wasn’t until I superimposed two routes over each other on Google Earth that I realized just how close they were. Using the measuring tool, it looked like a mere 200 meters to connect one nice route to another nice route.
Both routes had previously been done as A to A route… basically out and back to the same starting location. I really wanted to come up with a nice A to B route.
Two weeks ago a Facebook friend from Chiang Mai was in town and I asked him if he’d like to go out on an exploratory trip. He jumped at the opportunity. I told him that we would go on a route that I had done before and that the plan was to go off-route to connect to another route.
We went to the starting point and started walking. We reached the spot where previously I had turned right to go up a creek, but this time we went off left up a mountain. The connection to the ridge trail was about 200 meters up this incline according to Google Earth. We went off bushwhacking.
After a bit of mild struggle, we arrived at an obvious trail… yes, this was exactly what I wanted!
We turned right and started up the ridge trail. I had only done this ridge trail as an A to B once and it was about three years ago, so this was a really good find. I had the route on my GPS, but it is only so accurate.
We walked for quite some time, hacking and clipping as we went. The trail was seldom clear. Small clippers and small knives are what I prefer to use over machetes or big knives. They are very efficient and are very easy to carry.
We reached a point at which it made sense to start heading back. My buddy wanted to try to bushwhack a new way back, so we went exploring. After not too much time, we realized this was a bad idea. By now, time was starting to be an issue.
We struggled back up the mountain that we just descended to get back on the route we were on previously. Now it was time to not dilly dally. There was a problem however: the trail was not really that clear. We basically had to look for clippings that we cut on our way up. The GPS gave us a pretty good idea where to go, but it was fairly general and a lot of places looked like the right way to go. The good thing about being on a narrow ridge is you can’t really get too far off course. Too far left or right and you’re going down a steep mountain… wrong way.
We still got confused many time. The clock was ticking. It would really be unfortunate if we had to spend the night in the jungle. We weren’t lost. We also had really good mobile phone reception on top of the ridge, so it would be odd to be stuck in the jungle, yet be able to tell friends on Facebook what is happening!
After much exertion, we made it to the last downhill bit of open farmland that lead to my truck. We were both beat. This was a solid seven hour walk!
The Next Visit
Approaching from the other direction was my next goal, so two weeks later another buddy and I drove up to give it a shot.
I had gone up to Phang Nga Province a few times by myself to try and find the link from a known mountain climb to the ridge trail. I never could find it. What I did find was that if I went off in the other direction I would be heading towards a wonderful creek walk that I’ve done many times. By heading down, my GPS showed I was within 300 meters of the creek. The problem: it was thick and very, very steep. I got as far as I could go without using ropes. I came to a stunning big boulder cascading waterfall area. I was just 60+ meters from making the complete connection. To be done safely, that will require a rappelling rope… and not being solo.
Anyway, this time, my friend and I stopped at just the right spot to look at the GPS. It showed that we were sort of past the place where we should have turned off to get on the ridge walk, darn. However, looking left, we noticed a faint trail heading in exactly the right direction to make the connection.
Within minutes, we were actually on the ridge walk trail!
The trail was rather obvious. Local hunters apparently use this route. As usual, we had knives and clippers with us. We did quite a bit of easy clearing as we went.
After stopping for lunch, we both decided this was enough. I was happy with making the connection. That was why I came up here. There was no need to keep going.
Once home I got on both the Garmin program and Google Earth to figure out whether this A to B route should be done as a one-day trip or a two-day trip. Well, the entire route is just 6.5 kilometers. However, almost none of it is flat or mild. On this second research trip, we did 2.6 kilometers in just under 3 hours. We were not pushing the pace at all. I estimate that with a reasonable pace this entire route could be done in 7 to 8 hours.
The Ridge walk Hike would be suitable for folks who don’t mine several hours of mildly strenuous walking on fairly challenging terrain. The ridge walk itself is actually quite easy. The tough bits are getting up to the ridge and coming down off of it.
Hiking in Phang Nga Province can be added to your Khao Sok National Park adventure. Phang Nga Province hiking can be customized to include jungle survival training as well.
Khao Sok Creek Trekking
We have found several nice creeks in Khao Sok that offer you a chance to venture deep into the otherwise extremely challenging jungle. Creeks give you access to deep inside the jungle without the same level of struggle.
For those who like struggle, we offer that too.
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