Mae Na - Pakhia - Mae Mae loop

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by cm das, Apr 22, 2009.

  1. cm das

    cm das Ol'Timer

    After several busy weeks I finally had the chance to take out my D-Tracker again on Sunday. It was my first ride with the new ECU & my first opportunity to test out my rear Trailmax tire on some dirt. Armed with my GT Rider Mae Hong Son Loop map I headed up the 107 with the intention of doing some exploring around Chiang Dao. On the way the D-Tracker with it's new ECU seemed to have a little more pick-up than I recalled, but I had hardly ridden it for about 3 weeks so it was tough to tell.

    First I decided to turn left at Mae Na & head up towards Pakhia. This section of road was covered well by thailasse in his report from last year (http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorc ... t4225.html) but I'll add some pics since the road's looking pretty different now than it did last August.

    The turnoff to Pakhia
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    How great to have clear skies & views again!
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    It's soon a very pleasant dirt road winding upwards through forest, the surface is uneven but not loose or difficult.
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    This is the first of several sleepy villages I passed. Actually, except for Pakhia every village looked just about empty.
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    More nice dirt for a while til I hit the checkpoint.
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    At this point I still wasn't sure which road I was on, but the friendly guy manning the checkpoint told me that I could continue straight ahead & eventually end up at Mae Taman. Now I had a mission.

    There were several forks in the road but I kept following signs for the Mae Taman Headwaters Management Office (?), the sign on the right here
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    At this junction I turned right for a quick visit to Pakhia.
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    Along the way were great views of Doi Luang & Pakhia itself.
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    After a Pepsi & some refueling in Pakhia (40 Baht/liter), it was back up the mountain, where I soon came across the Headwaters Management Office, a well-tended collection of buildings high on the ridge.
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    Another guy here assured me that if I continued on & kept to my left, I'd end up at Mae Taman. And here's where my adventure began. Up to this point my new tire was performing well. I hadn't noticed much change in grip but I was comfortable and may be riding with a little more confidence on the loose, steep parts.

    From here the road narrowed and got noticeably rougher.
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    I was climbing along the ridge & just beginning to think that maybe I was getting in over my head when I spontaneously performed a freestyle attempted de-restriction of my D-Tracker. In other words, I dropped the bike, going up this loose & rutted incline.
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    It doesn't look like much in the pic, probably it wouldn't look like much to most of you in person, but I got caught taking a bad line & when I tried to change it the bike ended up on its side. No problem, it was a soft landing & neither of us was hurt. On the second try I made it up without difficulty.

    The rocky, rough road continued along the ridge & I was a little jittery but managed OK. And there were some fantastic views.

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    Eventually I came to another unsigned fork in the road. I didn't take a picture but it was about 1 or 2 km after I passed under a large tree that had fallen across the road. "Keep left" I remembered, and so I did. It turns out that to get to Mae Taman I should have kept right. From here the road descended in a series of steep switchbacks, past another empty village.
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    And eventually I emerged onto a slab road at Mae Mae, greeted by the temple nagas.
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    By now I'd been on the mountain for a few hours & was ready to head back down, unfortunately it wasn't so simple. At the T by the nagas I had a choice of turning left (downhill) or right (uphill). I chose left & the result was another half hour or so of trying out various roads only to have them deteriorate back into loose dirt or dead end. I did stumble across a weird, also empty, resort-type place that had another great vista.
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    Backtracking to Mae Mae I found an actual, living human being who set me on the right road to Chiang Dao. From here it was a windy slab road, nothing spectacular but a pleasant ride.
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    I came to this junction and headed downhill.
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    If you wanted to do this loop the other way, you'd take a right here, and a left just past the temple in Mae Mae.

    Finally I passed this pretty little lake and emerged onto the 107 just opposite the big police checkpoint.
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    On the way home, it was time for me to test the new ECU & see if my attempted de-restriction had worked. The result - a top speed of 115 & revs stuck around 7000, same as before.

    All in all, it was a nice ride & I learned alot about my bike & my own capabilites as a rider. Most practically, I learned that dotted line roads on the GT Rider maps are probably not for me, not at this point. The way up to Pakhia is easily doable on a D-Tracker with no off-road skills required. And if you're looking for a more adventurous & bumpy, scenic trip along a high ridge with awesome views, I can recommend the whole loop.
     
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  3. Ally

    Ally Ol'Timer

    Cm what a great loop & brilliant report.

    I like those shots (as you well know) of the hard soil with the forest back drop, it must have been a very enjoyable ride.

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    Sorry to hear about the slight misadventure but at least neither of you were 'hurt' of at worst, put off continuing upwards!

    I am certainly going to be out that way very soon, that area looks very appealing.

    Ally
     
  4. Fishenough

    Fishenough Ol'Timer

    Thanks for a nifty report; was reading Thailasse report just last night too, and now with yours the route is at the top of my list of to-do rides.

    And after reading of your attempted de-restriction, starting to question the safety of riding off road like I have been attempting also. Not being twenty years old anymore plus really being surprised how a rough road tires you out in short order; a bit of an eye opener.

    Cheers
     
  5. thailasse

    thailasse Ol'Timer

    cm das, brilliant report and nice to see new updated photos from Pakhia side trip section. The Hmong Pakhia side trip is my favorite dirt road in North Thailand. Sometimes I still have to ride your route, many thanks for good idea and photos from Pakhia - Mae Mae section.
     

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