summer, another week tramping through the mountains with stunning
scenery and wonderful weather.
I was starting to think we must have done all the good week-long high altitude walks in Japan (there are basically two long mountain ranges, the Kita and Minami Alps) but on inspecting the maps again more carefully I noticed a sneaky ridge route that took in two rather inaccessible hyakumeizan, possibly reaching a 3rd if we had the energy. Since it was a 5 night / 6 day trip, we decided to fit it between two weekends ahead of the busiest Obon period, hoping to miss the worst of the 2-in-futon fun that this period often brings.
So we got up on the first Sunday in August at stupid o'clock, so as to walk into town for the 5:51 train. Yes, there are trains at 5:51am on Sundays here. A total of 4 changes later, ranging from 2 (no typo!) to 16 minutes in duration and we were on the bus to Ogisawa.
|We started our walk by reversing the end of last year's summer trip, up the 3rd-best snowy valley in Japan (which with good weather and fresh legs was a lot more enjoyable than the previous rainy descent had been) and 4 hours later stopped at the Harinoki Goya, where we spent our first night.|
Harinoki hut looked south over our planned route, with Yarigatake in
distance. The day's walk (over Renge-dake and Kitakuzu-dake to
Nanakura-dake) was not too long, but very hot, and after getting to the
Funakubo hut we found out that the promised spring was a good 20 minute
walk down a steep hill...still worth visiting for a good wash and a
long drink of beautiful fresh clean mountain water though.
There were lots of alpine flowers on the way.
|The hut was quite something - run by an old lady (grand-daughter of the original builder?) with a Nepalese Sherpa. It had no electricity (all the others have a generator) and lighting was provided by paraffin lamps. Despite the relatively primitive set-up, they produced an amazing tempura dinner (much of which appeared to have been picked off the hillside). Then they made us sit round the stove, introducing ourselves, and the Sherpa was made to sing some Nepalese song for our entertainment.|
morning, the ridge round the head of the valley to Fudou-dake was
extremely narrow and prone to landslides. There were frequent detours
where the old path had fallen away and rather insecure ropes and log
bridges to scramble over. It was also extremely steep and isolated,
with only a handful of people attempting this route.
Just after finding a fresh pile of bear scat, there was a loud commotion in the undergrowth as a large animal ran away. I didn't get much of a look but it was dark in colour and there's not much else it could have been.
Fudou-dake (above), the walking got more straightforward and
open, and after a quick sramble up the rocky peak of Eboshi-dake (left) we
reached the Eboshi-goya around 2pm, where suddenly there were lots more
people who had come from the other (easier) direction.
Our first impressions of the Eboshi-goya were not good. Hot, sweaty and in dire need of a wash, we asked where the spring was (clearly marked on the map), only to be told that it did not exist, and we could buy water at ¥200 per litre instead. The toilet was a horrible outside hole in the ground. However, we later found there was an inside toilet for customers (as opposed to campers and passers-by) which had plenty of running (but non-drinkable) water. As so often in Japan, if you don't ask precisely the right question, you don't get the obvious answer. We had a fairly good night, in a semi-private cubicle for 2.
You can send us an email here