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Japan20091005

Page history last edited by Phil Baraona 14 years, 8 months ago

Monday, Oct 5

Today, we hiked. It was definitely the most difficult hike I have ever done. It turned out to be 22km/13.7mi and 5,400 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Wow.

The day started out from Kamikochi a little before 8am. The first 6 miles of the hike get you to the Yokoo Hut and this was very easy hiking. The trail was almost flat and we only gained a couple of hundred feet over the six miles. We covered the distance in a little over two hours. The walk was up a gorgeous river valley with amazing views of the mountains nearby. Words can’t describe how beautiful it is. You’ll have to look at the pictures, though it’s unlikely even those will do it justice.

One thing I was surprised at was the number of people on this part of the trail. It’s a Monday morning during the offseason and we probably saw well over 100 people coming down off the mountain in the two hours we were on the trail. Based on the scenery and the relative ease of this part of the hike, I can certainly understand why so many people would want to be here. I just can’t imagine how crowded it must get on nice summer weekends.

After the Yokoo Hut, the next couple of miles of trail continued to be pretty flat with great views. It was the last 4.5 miles that were the real killer. We gained almost all of the 5,400 feet there. And, of course, it was steeper the closer you got to the top where you were the most tired and most impacted by the altitude. Especially in the last kilometer or so, I just put one foot in front of the other and powered through. But I got there.

“There” is the hut closest to the summit of Mt Yari-ga Take. We dropped our packs off at the hut and then finished the last ~350 feet to the summit. Although the climb up to the hut was long and tiring, it didn’t require any scrambling, ropes or ladders. This last little bit to the summit required all three. And it’s easy to understand why. The summit is the classic pointed mountain top that people compare to the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps. It has a great view in every direction and made the physical challenges of climbing up well worth it. The summit is at 3180m/10,433ft which is far and away the highest that I have ever hiked – and may even be the highest that I have ever been.

After enjoying the summit for a little while (before I got cold), we headed back down to the hut. We actually had pretty good weather today – mostly cloudy, but no rain with a high around 60 (I would guess). Excellent hiking weather.

The hut we are staying at is amazing. It sleeps around 300 people (there are about 30 here tonight) and the only thing missing between this place and the ryokans we have stayed at so far was a hot bath (or any bath, for that matter). Dinner was a little on the small side, but quite tasty. There is a television in the lobby showing the track of the typhoon currently headed towards Japan. There is even a laptop connected to the internet. For as amazed as I was about checking my e-mail last night, I am completely flabbergasted that I was able to do it here tonight up above 10,000 feet. Double Wow.

One final exciting piece of news: there is a beer vending machine in the lobby! We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have “mountain hut short boys” in the heated bar next to the lobby. After beer, I caught up on my journal and will probably just head off to bed. I am exhausted. It’s not quite 8pm. They turn the lights off at 8:30. With luck, I will be asleep before then.

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