Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Japan vacation, hiking day one.

We breakfast at 7:00 with a pretty elaborate Japanese breakfast that you could also have served us as dinner and we wouldn't have complained. We are checked out and on our way by shortly past 8.

We follow the river for a bit along the nature trail through the woods before hitting the fork of the "mountain trail" that we will follow for the next while. This starts to take us up the end of the valley on a very nice trail through the woods, up, up, up. There are several places where we would no doubt have a great view if we weren't in fog/low clouds. Ah well... It's not raining yet. We are more or less alone on the trail; a couple people pass us coming down and one guy passes us on his way up.
up up up through the woods
Eventually we hit the Dakesawa hut. This does seem to be open for business and it looks like it has places to sleep (we had tried to figure this out from Tokyo without any luck. We do a short break, drink a bit of water and then continue our way up the path to the ridge. This steadily steepens, making us really wish we had some steady views; instead we just get the occasional glimpse down to the valley floor. Up, up, up we go, passing a few more people coming down, steadily up. After a while the trail starts to get very nicely scrambly, so we are having plenty of scrambling fun. The wind is picking up, so we get the occasional very nice bit of view (damn these clouds!). We do a short lunch break (too windy for a long one) at the point where the path forks to go up to the Maehotakadake. Given that it's nothing but clouds up there, we opt to skip that peak and just continue on our way. Now the path is leading us along a bit under the ridge... It is seriously windy - with some brace yourself with the wall gusts. Verrrrry nice that we are under the ridge and not directly on it.
path a bit under the ridge
Further along we go, gently climbing, the wind and clouds buffeting us from the side, until we hit the peak of the Okuhotakadake (3190m). We take a couple pictures and do a very short break in a wind-sheltered spot and then head on; it's not much farther to the hut, and the idea of getting under shelter is very, very appealing. 
peak of Okuhotakadake (3190 m)
On the way down it starts actively raining (ick! But at least it didn't start an hour earlier), so we are both very glad to reach the hut (2983m) and get into the warm indoors. The next step is figuring out the procedures and etiquette of a Japanese mountain hut. We manage to get through this without too much trouble (we do something wrong with taking the wrong slippers, but get past that quickly), make our beds, and settle in for the evening.

The weather certainly wasn't ideal, but it was still a nicely varied day of walking. And we did our first peak in Japan. :-)

Dinner was an interesting experience: good food, many things on the plates, only the rice and miso served family style. It's served super early (5:00), so we just kind of hung out for a few hours before heading off to bed at around 8:00. Fortunately this hut has more hanging out possibilities than Swiss huts.

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