Pilgrim's Trail to Wat Doi Sutep, Chiang Mai
Like many travelers in Chiang Mai, I wanted to take advantage of some of the great hiking nearby. Unlike many travelers in Chiang Mai, I decided to conduct my hike of the Pilgrim's Trail during the hottest part of the day. The trail itself starts at the base of the mountain range just west of the city and basically goes uphill from there for about 4km to Wat Doi Sutep - a famous temple at the top. Halfway into the hike (the easy half mind you) you find yourself at Wat Palaat - a meditation retreat. After a quick break I pushed on to the top. Little did I know the difficult portion of the hike lay just ahead. I made the first half of the hike in great time. It took me roughly 30 minutes to get to Wat Palaat. A hiker on the way down informed me it would take double the time to get to the top. Of course, being extremely cocky and very confident in my hiking ability and fitness level, I shrugged off his sage advice and pressed ahead knowing it wouldn't take me that long to get to the top. Within five minutes I realized how wrong I was. Pride goeth before the fall. It was as if the person designing the trail decided switchbacks were useless and wanted to employ the age old strategy of the "shortest route between A and B." Sections of the trail were literally straight up and with the heat of the day cresting one hundred Fahrenheit, the hike became grueling. A hundred meters then break. Another hundred then break again. Waves of sweat poured off me. I was literally having my own monsoon season. After about an hour I reached the top where a cold water and fresh mango shake congratulated my efforts.