Hiking in the hills of Laos

The hike that Caitlin contracted Dengue on was actually an awesome hike. I hadn’t posted this story yet as I felt that I needed to give some space between Caitlin fighting a brutal fever and aching bones and posting awesome pictures about our hike.
The hike itself was a little bit more strenuous than we anticipated. The start of the hike started out fine. We got into a boat to cross a river and then began hiking into the jungle. At first the path was wide and fairly dry making me think this would be nothing too difficult, that thought quickly changed. Shortly after we got into the heavier vegetation we came to a small river, our guide suggested that we should take off our shoes so that we could cross easier. I didn’t really feel like it was necessary and I saw a small tree leaning over the river that I thought I could shimmy up a little ways then swing my legs down on the other side. What I didn’t factor into the equation was that my backpack was holding about 8 liters of water in it and severely limiting my movement. So there I was dangling from the tree trying to shimmy farther across with Caitlin watching and all I could think was I can’t fall because I have all my dry clothes on and the camera in the backpack. Prior to starting this tactical error I had pictured myself crossing smoothly like a Tarzan movie, in reality it looked more like an upside turtle clinging to a tree while flailing its legs. I finally made it across without stepping into the river at which point I look over and see Caitlin sitting on the bank taking off her shoes. Next time I should just listen to the guide.
Our next struggle would be mud on the path making it difficult to find a path and at times very slippery. This wasn’t that bad until we had to start stopping to check our legs for leeches. Sure enough I pulled one off of my foot that had crawled through my sock and would later discover that one had been on my thigh and sucked its full then dropped off. I’m basing this on the blood I discovered when I took off my pants.   These stops to check for leeches however also doubled to give us a chance to see some of the best views of our trip in Laos. The country is absolutely amazing geographically. The hills and sky are so bright in greens and blues, many of the pictures we took look color boosted but have not been altered. 
By the end of the hike we had drenched our clothes in sweet and were ready for a break. Thankfully we arrived at the village when there wasn’t much left in our tanks. We spent the evening hanging out which I will post about later. The following day we got up and headed out. The hike down was supposed to be relatively easy and I thought it wouldn’t be that bad. It turned out I was wrong. Once again it started easy enough until we came to a small river. This time however there was a bamboo bridge, thinking how much easier this was I started walking across. Unfortunately I’m bigger than most Hmong and the bamboo couldn’t handle my weight and the bamboo plank split in two and I plunged into the river only to be split in the mid section by the remaining bamboo planks that had held up. It did not start the morning well. Laughing it off and thinking what are the chances. We then came to another river but this time we had to leap across it. We would end up leaping across this little river about 15 more times all while trying not to jump too high and hit your head on one of the branches or vines overhanging. Probably at cross three I plunged my remaining dry foot into the river. This made for a soggy slog back to Luang Prabang.
The hike was definitely more of an adventure than we had anticipated but turned out to be the highlight of our trip, until Caitlin got Dengue from it.
Panoramic view.
Our boat driver across.

At the start, things were easy.

Caitlin climbing over a barbwire fence, carrying the water for the hike. We would sweat that out over the course of the day.

Walking through the rice fields.

The colors were amazing.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think they really look like the pictures.

Hiking down the road towards the mountains.

The rock formations were so cool.

To give you an idea of what we were going up.

Caitlin posing.

The views were absolutely amazing.

Our guide chopping up a fruit that is kind of like grapefruit for a snack.

No adjustments made.

The better of these two photos I shut my eyes.

Our guide catching us in action. 
A massive millipede.

Yet another amazing view.

Slogging through the mud. We learned there are two types of rice they grow, mountain rice and paddy rice.

Our guide showing us the grains they make Beer Lao with.

Dinner with an Irish couple we met who were also staying in the village.

The path on the way out.

Taking a break at another ‘village’. It seemed more like a families farm.

Cool looking caterpillar.

More rice paddies, I couldn’t stop taking pictures.

Caitlin preparing to cross one of the final rivers/creeks.
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