Friday, September 06, 2013

Japan vacation, hiking day three.

We are up for breakfast at 5:00. Outside it is a miraculously clear morning; the few low clouds just serve to increase the drama of the it-yet-quite-risen sun. A few head lamps are visible making their way up the Yari-ga-take (3180 m); kind of surprising, we had expected to see crowds doing that. The Japanese at our table seem even more hectic than usual, the guy next to us explains that the sun will be rising in eleven minutes, so they have to hurry. We nod and continue eating at our normal pace. The four westerners are the last people to leave the breakfast room. ;-)

After we get outside, we make a last minute change of plans and decide to go ahead and do the quick climb to the top of the Yari. Andrea has been agitating for this, but Greg was really not particularly excited about climbing up in a crowd and tacking an extra hour and a half onto what looks like it might be a fairly long day. Greg changes his mind when he sees how clear it is and notices that there don't seem to be a huge number of people on their way up at the moment. We ditch the packs and start up. We do eventually end up getting stuck behind a line of people, but it doesn't take too terribly long to get to the top. It's definitely nice that there are two trails up: one for the ascent and one for the descent. Up there the views are stunning and the crowd isn't too bad. We wait in line so Greg can take a picture of Andrea at the shrine, then wait in line again to start back down. The trip down takes longer than the ascent and is somewhat irritating, but we do get a great view of the first helicopter of the day coming in to resupply the hut. We grab our packs and set off.
on top of Yari-ga-take
view from the top of Yari-ga-take to the hut and along the ridge from yesterday
waiting in line on the way down

The first stretch takes us down a couple hundred meters from the peak to a nice trail that follows the ridge to the northwest. Good walkings along this in the sun, enjoying the views all around, up some, down some, the usual ridge walking. It is interesting and strange to just walk for an extended period of time and to not be concentrating so much. Oh, and the sun is awfully nice too. After a bit we climb up to the Momisawa-dake (2755 m) and descend to the Sugoroku hut, where we stop for a food break. We supplement the last of day one's buns with a bowl of udon soup and then continue on our way. 
sunny ridge walking
Now we climb for a while to the peak of Sugoroku-dake (2860 m) and follow from there the ridge up and down, across another few peaks, crossing the occasional group coming the other way, just generally enjoying ourselves. At the peak of Mitsumata-renge-dake (2841 m), we take another short break, chat a bit with a couple Japanese hikers, then turn west and start descending. 
view from the peak of Misumata-renge-dake
The path takes us down, down, down, through constantly increasing vegetation, under 2500 m for the first time since day one, until we reach the Kurobegoro hut. This is smaller (only 60 people) and very nicely situated on a wide broad saddle. We are the only guests when we check in (another guy comes later). We spend the afternoon enjoying the quiet and peace and appreciating the views from the terrace.
quiet afternoon at the hut
Dinner is very, very good; a great finish to a very nice day of walking.

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