It’s only partially sunny when I wake up. I spend a few hours after breakfast looking for and photographing cool moths around the VC. I find a few that are as big as my hand and some that are totally camouflaged to look like a leaf. I get on the trail at 11. At 11:30 it starts to rain. I have enough food and water to hike the whole day and I don’t want to try and run back to camp. I have a feeling the rain is not going to last long, so I take shelter beside the trunk of a tree underneath a lot of vegetation. I actually stayed really dry, even when the rain got heavy. I took down my tent earlier to let it dry completely under the roof of the washroom. The rest of my gear was also in there, so I had no worries about anything getting wet while I was away on the trail.
The rain stopped after half an hour and I started hiking again. I only hiked for about half an hour before the rain started again. I found some decent shelter and waited out the rain, which lasted about an hour this time. I was lucky to have my Ipod and listened to some podcasts to pass the time. I was staying dry but I couldn’t move around much or sit down, unless I wanted to get soaked.
The rain was starting to bring out the leeches. I had seen a couple around but since I was stationary, I was a sitting target. I felt something on my ankle and had 2 leeches feeding just above where my socks ended and then a few more on my boots. Leeches are very hard to kill without something sharp, insect repellant, a lighter or salt. I had none of these items on me. All I could do was take them off me and then fling them as far away as I could!
Finally the rain stopped and I was on the trail again. The forest changed into a more open pine forest with tall grass. I could see a lot of blue patches in the sky and the rain looked like it was over for now. I spotted some interesting red centipedes crawling all over a bench on the trail. I sat on the bench and ate my lunch of sticky rice and bananas. I spotted a flower covered up with pine needles not far away. I uncovered it and later learned it was a Siam Tulip. It was my first time seeing the flower. It was no leaves and just a small stem. I think it was blooming out of season as it was the only one around. I spotted a Dendrobium orchid growing nearby very low on a tree, so it was easy to photograph.
I wanted to hike this trail to the viewpoint. That way I had hiked all the trails in the park and the side trails connecting them. I saw where I missed the trail a few days ago. I guess I didn’t look too hard to for it. It wasn’t hidden! At the viewpoint I was shocked to see the long and heavy bamboo benches were destroyed. One was flipped over and the other had the bamboo torn off of it. There aren’t many people on the trails in the park. I haven’t really seen anyone around and besides, who would take time to flip over a heavy bench. This was the handy work of one pissed off elephant! I could see bamboo cracked and destroyed too along the trail. The same trail I hiked 2 days ago when the bamboo was unharmed. This was all very recent activity. The elephants were around but had continued to elude me.
About an hour and a half after the last rain stopped, I could hear thunder in the distance and see the rain on the mountains. It was headed my way. I wasn’t in dense forest anymore so I hiked quickly to get into some taller forest for cover. I found a good spot before the rain came and waited about half and hour for the third storm of the day to stop.
Despite all the rain, my gear and I managed to stay really dry. The rain made for a really interesting day and I’m glad I stuck it out on the trail. I got back to camp about 5 hours after I left. I set up my tent more in the open but on slanted ground so no water would collect underneath it.
The forest was still dripping wet after dinner as it had been the last 3 nights. This was my last night in the park though and I really wanted to go for a hike. Instead of my epic 3 hour hike, I settled for the 1km nature trail. I hiked it with the Belgain couple. We saw about 4 frogs but the real highlight of the night were the fireflies. There were dozens of them around us everywhere. It was almost unreal and totally surreal. I had seen lightshows like this before but not in a while. The Belgians had never even seen fireflies before until they got to Thailand so they were absolutely amazed! Thankfully the sky got clear again and it didn’t rain anymore that night.
I was awoken at about 12.30 in the morning but something making some noises in the vegetation near my tent. My tent was about 5m from the forest edge which had a bit of a grassy area before it turned into dense forest. I unzipped my tent and took a peek. It was an elephant no more than 6m from my tent! A huge elephant at that! I was sitting on the ground, half in my tent and I was looking up at it. I shined my light at him and he looked over at me. Okay, okay, I moved my light away from him. I was just picturing him getting angry and coming over and stomping me in my tent. The Belgians heard him and were up too, though they were further behind me. The elephant didn’t seem too bothered by us so I tried to take a few photos with my camera and the flash but he was too far away and my weak flashlight wasn’t providing me enough light to focus on him. In the end I was so happy to see an Asian elephant on foot but unfortunately I couldn’t get any photos of it. Oh well, that’s just the way spotting wildlife works sometimes. I’ve definitely seen a lot more than I have been able to photograph, but I’m trying to change that! Seeing that elephant so close was an awesome highlight of the trip and something I’ll never forget.
Apr 02 2012