The weather was ideal as we began our trek through dense tropical forest. Soon we were breathing deep of the scent of pine as we made our way across the hillsides at a height of around 1,500 metres. Since the summit is only 1,929 metres, we didn't have to gain much elevation, but with constant downs and ups, some of which were very steep, I felt I was pushed to my limit and stopped frequently to let my heart stop pounding.
Finally we emerged from the densely-wooded slopes onto a windswept, west-facing ridge, and the best part of the hike began. As we walked along that ridge, sweeping panoramas opened up all around us, with the enticing summit at the end of the trail, surrounded by an almost sheer drop-off on all sides. The guide led us down a short slope to a sheltered area by a stream where we set up camp, and my hiking companions raced up to the summit and back before dark while I sat on the ridge soaking up the spectacular scene.
In the morning I joined my buddies for a look at the view from the highest point for miles around, though as we trudged up the final approach, a thick mist kept visibility down to a few metres. Then, as often happens in such circumstances, the mist began to evaporate rapidly, revealing lush valleys and receding ridges all around. The summit was graced with a tiny stupa, at the base of which a few hikers had left offerings of coins or energy snacks, and on the hills around were some gnarled, moss-covered rhododendrons just bursting into flower. Suitably re-assured of the raw power of nature, we skipped back down the trail to the campsite, packed our things and made our way back to the city.
is a British writer and photographer based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.