Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hiking Japan - Asahidake Mountain

In the middle of the island is Daisetsuzan National Park, Japan's largest National Park. Asahidake, standing at 7,518', is Hokkaido's tallest peak and still an active volcano. This hike was the first of two big hikes in Hokkaido.

A beautiful 10k trail circles around the back of the mountain leading to a very steep trail taking you to the top of the mountain. From what we've seen, the trail builders do not believe in switch-back trails. The final quarter mile shoots straight up the the mountain-side at a 45-50 degree slope requiring you to crawl on all fours to get to the summit.

With the coming of cool weather, the trees, shrubs and ground cover were turning color. The hike climbing approximately 2,200' was very strenuous but the scenery and vistas were quite stunning and worth the effort.

Note: To view enlarged photo, mouse over picture and click

The easiest and most enjoyable part of the hike was taking the gondola from the base to the trailhead at 5,200' elevation.
Steaming Asahidake stands behind us. A challanging 10k trail took us clockwise around the backside of the mountain to the top.

Passing several ponds on our way up

Trees beginning to turn color. The low growth appeared to some kind of dwarf bamboo or ti-plant.

Elevated boardwalk keeps you from trampling the tundra which was also turning color

Colorful low-growing trees and shrubs streaming down the mountain-side

Taking "five" before the serious climbing begins

Trail takes you by a natural hot spring

Joining a fellow hiker who was skinny-dipping in the hot springs

Awesome views down the valley from the saddle

Foto opp time at the saddle. We take the trail to the summit from here.

The trail overlooks a small caldera on the backside

The summit at 7,518' looms in the horizon. The last quarter mile to the top is straight up the side of the mountain requiring you to crawl up on all fours.

Clusters of steam vents around the base of the mountain looks like dust devils

Unbelievable! . . . Andrew hiked to the top with his flip-flops

I go soaring from the summit . . . bagging my first big peak in Japan!

Group foto from the summit marker

Encountering more dust devils on the way down. The 10k hike took us 5 1/2 hours. An awesome day!

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