July 27, 2008

Hiking in Hokkaido

Hey everyone, we have been very very bad bloggers! What can I say... you see- hey look! New pictures!
We went hiking in Daisetzuzan National Park on the northern of Japan, Hokkaido. The same place we went for the Yuki Matsuri... which was the last blog entry... in February. OK, geez, you don't have to dwell on it!

Click on the slideshow to view the album.

The park is named after Daisetzudake, a mountain in the park. We actually did not see that mountain. Instead, we climbed Asahidake, and other minor mountains in the area. The climb up the mountain was pretty grueling, but our spirits were raised by the droves of high school students hiking up the slopes with us. Unfortunately, we weren't rewarded with a great view at the summit, which was engulfed in clouds. In general the weather was pretty cloudy during our trip, but Tisha and I were pretty happy with this, as it reduced our sun exposure (we still got minor sunburns though).

The big highlight of the trek for Tisha was our stop at the natural hot spring bath on the backside of Asahidake. Tisha is quite taken by hot baths, especially Japanese Onsen. The hot spring was located in a beautiful little valley next to a rushing creek. The catch was that the valley also reeked of sulfur. Tisha didn't mind too much, but I thought it sunk like an egg McMuffin sandwich. We camped about 10 meters from the spring, and in the morning Tisha didn't hesitate to have a soak in the Onsen. I was a bit less enthusiastic, but perched on a rock I dangled my feet into the hot water, and I must say it was a pretty neat way to start our second day on the trail.

We wound up hiking around the park for three more days before getting out in the nick of time (the remnants of a typhoon were about to wreak wet havoc in Hokaido). There were many amazing landscapes to look out over. Also the wildflowers were in full bloom, and Tisha took many pictures of those. It was also great to mingle with the Japanese hikers, who are a very down-to-Earth-crowd. All in all it was a wonderful trip, and a great last impression of Japan (for now at least!)

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